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Innovation, automation at Straightline
The next few editions of the Peninsula News Review will highlight businesses on the recent Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Tour of Industry. Read about what they do, their challenges and success stories.
Dennis Paulson got his start in metalwork as a Parkland Secondary School student. Who knew that years later, he and his brother DJ would be partners in a company, thriving on innovation, based in Sidney and supplying goods to customers both near and far?
The Paulsons — Mike, Dennis and DJ — own Straightline Precision Industries Inc., which they founded in 1996. They produce machined and fabricated components for a variety of industries — including the mountain bike industry.
“We were initially a little shop in a garage,” said DJ during the Saanich Peninsula chamber of Commerce Tour of Industry, held Oct. 30.
“We started with odd jobs, but we found international customers along the way.”
By 2006, the family-owned business added Straitline Components as an in-house brand. It designs and manufactures high-end, aftermarket mountain bike components — a line they say they have seen grow rapidly over the last few years.
Bike components, such as pedals and gears and more, are designed and engineered on site. Over the last seven to eight years, DJ said their success in this area has allowed them to buy more machines and increase their level of job automation to streamline their production schedule.
From an auto-picking storage machine to a robotic arm that feeds one of the fabricating machines, Straightline says their automation helps them to be competitive in the marketplace.
“We do have robotics running some of the machines,” added Dennis. “Automation is a big thing for us. A little company like this, spending so much on automation, allows us to be competitive.”
It also gives them some freedom to be able to diversify their line of products and what they can supply to a variety of customers. For example, they produce between 20,000 and 30,000 axles per year in their mountain bike components.
While they do send out some of their components for colouring, they return to Sidney for packaging and are sent out to customers around the world. Europe, Dennis said, is Straightline’s biggest market, adding they do send their products to 30 international distribution points.
The company also makes parts for the aerospace industry and has the capacity for more specialized or custom jobs when they arise. Dennis said they don’t advertise that aspect of the company, but there is a demand for their services from the people who know what they can do.
Straightline does employ 11 full-and-part-time employees and have a payroll in the neighbourhood of $500,000. Most of their staff live on the Saanich Peninsula and for the Paulsons, the area has always been their home.
They operate out of a tight warehouse in the Sidney industrial park. With their offices, manufacturing floor, packaging department and storage area all in the same building, there was talk from the Paulsons that they might be looking to move into new digs.
“The business has grown beyond our physical space,” Dennis said. “Plans are to expand in the future.”
Despite their small profile and family base, Straightline Precision is finding success in their 100 per cent entrepreneurial local business.
Tour Mini Series
In Friday’s News Review: The Victoria Airport Authority has expansion at a variety of levels in the works over the next few years. A runway expansion could attract new flights and planned improvement to the terminal itself will offer the traveler more options.