Inside LTR Industries’ Journey to Becoming a Digital Fabrication Powerhouse

Founded on traditional craftsmanship, LTR Industries has pivoted dramatically over the years, adopting cutting-edge technologies and management practices to redefine what it means to be a leader in commercial cabinet manufacturing. Under the guidance of CEO Brian Vlaming, the company has embraced a future-forward approach, transitioning from manual labor-intensive methods to a digital fabrication powerhouse equipped with CNC machinery and ERP software. This evolution is not just about technological advancement but also about fostering a robust company culture and expanding through strategic investments and industry engagement.

 

Embracing Technological Innovation

Located in Ottawa, LTR Industries has undergone a significant transformation in its manufacturing processes, moving from labor-intensive manual methods to advanced digital fabrication techniques. This shift was primarily motivated by the need to improve operational efficiency, enhance safety, and expand the creative possibilities of their projects. The introduction of CNC machinery and CAD software marked a pivotal change in how LTR Industries approached production. “We used to cut everything on a table saw, lifting every sheet, pushing it through manually. Now, with the CNC, we digitally create all of our products and design with CAD software,” explained Brian Vlaming. This transition was not without its challenges, as the company had to overcome a steep learning curve and significant capital investment in new technologies. This seamless integration of digital tools has not only sped up the production process but has also enhanced the accuracy and quality of the final products, reducing waste and the likelihood of errors.

Safety in the workplace has seen remarkable improvements as well. The automation of cutting and milling processes means that workers are less exposed to direct handling of heavy materials and machinery, significantly reducing the risk of accidents. “People’s happiness and their ability to enjoy their day in a safe working environment was key,” Vlaming emphasized, reflecting on the values driving these changes.

 

Cultivating a Strong Company Culture

At LTR Industries, respect, inclusivity, and teamwork aren’t just ideals—they are integral to the company’s operations. These values influence decisions, interactions, and project management throughout the organization. Brian Vlaming emphasizes the importance of these principles, explaining, “Respect is number one. We want to be inclusive and embrace everyone’s story. Teamwork is also important, and we want to cheer each other on and have a great time building stuff.” This ethos fosters a workplace where employees feel valued and supported, boosting productivity.

LTR implements these values through practical measures such as training programs that encourage career advancement and regular team meetings that enhance collaborative efforts. Highlighting the extension of these values to customer service, Vlaming says, “The ‘yes’ means I say yes to what people ask. We want to listen to our customers and our clients. We want to build their dreams.” The resulting workplace environment not only leads to high employee satisfaction and low turnover but also better customer service, as engaged employees are more committed to excellence. Vlaming concludes, “Our people are our key asset. We want to have people who have the right attitude, who want to be part of our family, our culture, see our values, and live our vision.”

 

Industry Engagement and Networking

Brian Vlaming overlooking LTR Industries

Along with Brian Vlaming sitting on the Program Advisory Committee of Algonquin college, LTR Industries actively participates in the Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario, the Wood Manufacturing Council, and the Ottawa Construction Association, demonstrating a commitment to industry leadership and collaboration. These organizations provide essential platforms for sharing knowledge, accessing training, and spearheading initiatives that enhance technological and workforce development across the wood manufacturing sector.

The Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario focuses on strengthening regional competitiveness, while the Wood Manufacturing Council leads national efforts in skills development and career promotion (See their recruitment video here). Vlaming values these relationships: “Being part of these organizations allows us to not only stay informed about the latest industry trends and technologies but also to contribute our insights and learn from the collective experiences of our peers.” This engagement facilitates LTR Industries’ adoption of innovative practices and technologies, such as digital fabrication methods influenced by insights from cluster events.

Additionally, Vlaming emphasizes the strategic benefits: “Our active participation in the Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario and the Wood Manufacturing Council not only keeps us connected with the pulse of the industry but also positions us as a forward-thinking leader committed to driving positive change.” Through these affiliations, LTR not only enhances its operational capabilities but also contributes to the broader industry’s growth and sustainability.

 

Navigating Challenges with ERP Software

At LTR Industries, the implementation of INNERGY’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software marked a significant turning point in the company’s approach to integrated business management. The decision to adopt INNERGY’s ERP system stemmed from a series of challenges with previous software solutions that failed to meet the company’s unique requirements for flexibility, customization, and ease of use in managing complex manufacturing processes.

The introduction of the ERP provided LTR with a robust, scalable solution designed to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and improve data accuracy across all departments—from project estimation and management to financial oversight and customer relationship management. This software supports LTR Industries’ ability to manage diverse project requirements with greater precision and efficiency, ensuring that every aspect of operations aligns with the company’s strategic goals and customer expectations.

The benefits of implementing ERP software has been multifaceted, addressing the core needs that initially led LTR Industries on their ERP journey. The system provided a unified platform that facilitated the integration of customer relationship management, project estimation, shop floor operations, and financial forecasting. This holistic approach has significantly improved operational efficiency, data accuracy, and project management capabilities. “We’ve been using INNERGY as an ERP software for four years, and it’s grown immensely,” explains Vlaming, underscoring the system’s adaptability and the value of having a dashboard that centralizes critical business functions.

Moreover, the adoption of ERP software has enhanced LTR Industries’ ability to respond to customer needs more effectively, streamline production processes, and improve decision-making through better data visibility and analysis. “It’s that seamless connection from software to software that’s really cool. Because when I go from estimating, now I don’t need to do anything; I push a button, and within 10 minutes, I’ve got work orders created in the project management part of the software,” Vlaming notes, highlighting the operational improvements realized through the ERP system.

 

Strategies for Business Growth and Funding

LTR Industries’ strategic approach to growth incorporates smart investments, adept use of funding opportunities, and effective risk management. CEO Brian Vlaming’s decision to purchase and transform an old school into the company’s manufacturing hub highlights their commitment to long-term asset ownership and operational expansion. To finance this acquisition, Vlaming utilized personal investments, demonstrating a calculated approach to risk to secure essential assets for the company’s future.

The renovation of this property was also supported by strategic government loans, some interest-free and partially forgivable, showcasing how LTR leverages diverse funding sources to facilitate growth. Vlaming remarks on the financing strategy: “To secure the property for our factory, we explored various financing options and decided that leveraging a combination of equity and favorable loan terms was the best route. This decision ensured that we could expand without compromising our financial health.”

Vlaming’s philosophy, “The only risk is not moving forward,” highlights the importance of proactive evolution in today’s competitive business landscape. This strategic vision allows LTR Industries to continue innovating and expanding within the wood manufacturing sector.

 

 

Tyler Holt is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine. He has a master’s degree in literature and publication, and years of experience in the publishing and digital media industry. His main area of study is the effect of digital technologies on industrial and networked production.

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