KEI (Kuntz Electroplating Inc.)

History

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Our corporations’ humble beginning was on October 16th 1948 – the first day of production for Kuntz Electroplating Inc. The Company’s founder, Oscar Kuntz, born on October 17, 1904, was a direct descendent of the Kuntz Family who owned and operated the famous Kuntz Brewery in Waterloo. After studying chemistry at both St. Mike’s in Toronto, Ontario and at Fordham University in Detroit, Oscar Kuntz and his wife decided to return to Waterloo, Ontario with their family to start their own business.

In 1947 Oscar purchased a building owned by Carr Brothers on Princess Street in Waterloo. Originally named Metal Finishers, Oscar started what is now Kuntz Electroplating Inc. with the assistance of his eldest son David.

By 1951, the company grew to 48 employees. Due to the rapid growth of the Company, the plant re-located to Nyberg Street in Kitchener.

The Nyberg Street location was expanded in both 1952 and 1956 to keep up with the growth of the company. Originally a 6,000 square foot plant in 1951, by 1956 it had doubled in size. In the late 1950′s, Kuntz Electroplating had gained a reputation for its polishing and plating of household appliances, defense items including aircraft and
radar work.

In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s, Bob (Bobby) Kuntz brought fame to both the Company and to himself, as he was a star CFL running back and linebacker for both the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats. “Bobby Kuntz Day” brought 23,316 cheering Toronto fans to CNE Stadium on October 29, 1961 when Bob announced his retirement from the Argonauts. Bob later rejoined the CFL and helped the Tiger Cats win the Grey Cup in both 1963 and 1965.

April 1961 was a sad month for the company, as one of the Company’s founders, Dave Kuntz, passed away (Dave was the eldest son of Oscar Kuntz and elder brother to Bob, Paul and Louie Kuntz. Jim Kuntz, still a loyal employee, is one of Dave’s sons). At this time, Bob Kuntz was given the duties of managing the company.

In 1964, after increased production, plant expansion and employee growth, Kuntz Electroplating outgrew its location on Nyberg Street. A site was located on Wilson Avenue in Kitchener’s new Industrial park. In 1965, Kuntz Electroplating moved to its’ present location at 851 Wilson Avenue in Kitchener. The 20th Anniversary in 1968 was marked by adding 6,000 square feet to the plant. Known today as the “old Hoist Line”, this addition “modernized the premises” and rearranged its production lines for one instead of three shifts. In addition, Kuntz leased a 5,000 square foot building (Polishing Plant #2) to the right of the main plant, to increase it’s polishing capabilities. At this time, the Company employed approximately 100 employees and serviced customers from Windsor to Montreal in the appliance, automotive and aerospace industries. Sadly, just a couple years after this anniversary milestone the Company’s Founder, Oscar Kuntz, passed away at the age of 68.

Due to continual demand for product, another Company Expansion occurred in 1973. This expansion included the addition of Maintenance, Lab, Quality Control, the Auto Lines and Shipping Departments. The Company now employed 150 employees and with this expansion, the plant space more than doubled to 52,000 square feet.

In 1978, an addition was added to the existing Main Plant, which included the Hoist Aluminum Department and additional Office space. This increased the plant size to 75,000 square feet. In May of 1978, Kuntz Electroplating became a division of Magna International. This move broadened the automotive market for the company.

In the fall of 1985, the Company saw the completion of the Waste Treatment facilities. This addition cost approximately $800,000 and added 7,500 square feet to the plant.
In October of 1986, the Company completed the addition of the Hoist Steel, Hoist Phosphate and additional Shipping area to the back of the Main Plant. This additional square footage of approximately 56,000 increased the plant to 150,000 square feet including warehouse space.


During the Company’s 40th Anniversary year, the company completed renovations to the Employees Main Lunchroom, Locker rooms, Boardroom, Lab, Quality Control and Office Facilities. At this time, Kuntz Electroplating employed 425 employees, and serviced over 125 customers in Southern Ontario, Michigan and into the mid-western United States. The highest output of products was for its copper/nickel chrome plating on both steel and aluminum bumpers. Zinc, phosphate and “specialty” finishes were produced as well.

In May of 1989, Kuntz Electroplating acquired a sister company “Formulated Coatings of Brampton.” Formulated Coatings had 90 employees, 120,000 square foot facility and was a world class “Cathodic E-Coating” facility.

In the spring of 1990, after 12 productive years with Magna International, the Company felt it was in their best interest to discontinue its relationship with Magna and to go private once again.

In May of 1991, at a time when many local companies had either closed down, left the country or had not recalled their people, Kuntz Electroplating was able to call back the 100 employees that had been temporarily laid off six months earlier. A major company decision was made to discontinue unprofitable lines in the company including barrel plating, zinc and our Auto 1, 3 and 4 Lines. The company instead would concentrate on the polishing and plating of bumpers, rims and automotive trim.

Tremendous growth occurred from 1993 to 1996, with the Company hiring over 300 new employees bringing the total workforce to 675 employees -quite a growth from 50 years ago! Additions included our Recycling Department, where we recycle or reuse wood, gloves, cardboard, pop cans and numerous other goods; new offices for Shipping, Safety, and Supervisors at the rear of the main building; a new Cafeteria and locker rooms; a Health Centre. A Co-Generation Department was also added, allowing Kuntz Electroplating Inc. to supply its own power and harness steam (a natural byproduct) to heat the plating tanks.

In 1997, a Company decision was made to plate additional aluminum wheels and therefore the Hoist Aluminum Department was expanded to accommodate this, along with the expansion of polishing Area 8. 150 polishers were added to staff to accommodate this new business.

In 2000, Kuntz added a 5th co-generation engine which enabled the company to supply over 50% of its own power needs and be capable of running all critical production applications during emergency power outages. Other major projects were completed during the year including an expanded plating line (capable of both steel and aluminum substrates), a technologically advanced coating system for high-speed wheel painting, and an aggressive robotics program aimed at reducing costs and production inefficiencies. In addition, a new high-tech water treatment facility was added with future expansion in mind. This new facility ensures Kuntz’s commitment to a clean, safe environment is kept. In 2000, the Company employed over 1,000 people with over 750,000 square feet of production area.

In 2004, Kuntz Electroplating Inc celebrated a new partnership with Harley-Davidson and Leggett & Platt (suppliers of the die cast aluminum components). A new state-of-the-art plating line launched that was designed and engineered specifically to meet Harley-Davidson’s detailed standards for cosmetic nickel chrome finishing on its most popular engine. A result of two years of research, planning and construction, the new line uses sophisticated computer controlled, automated hoist systems, and is only the second of its kind in Canada. Advanced robotic polishing equipment was integrated into the new line, enabling an output of over 3 million parts annually for the American motorcycle company. This partnership with the fabled maker of motorcycles brings added prestige to Kuntz’s portfolio of plated components.

Today, the company continues to grow and deliver the highest quality polished and plated parts to the world’s most recognized manufacturers including Harley, GM, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Volvo, Nissan, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Freightliner to name just a few.

The Company is now known throughout the world as the # 1 Finisher in the industry. With a dedicated workforce and a commitment “To be the best at what we do”, Kuntz Electroplating is poised to remain #1 and to continue its phenomenal growth. Oscar would be proud!