With the capability to produce 35,000 cylinders at any time, Kaplan Industries has been serving both domestic and global welding distributors with compressed gas cylinders and related equipment since the early 1950s. Recently, the Harrison, Ohio-based company has seen some exciting developments and gasworld US got in touch with Bud Allen, Vice-President of Marketing, to get the latest.
What proportion of cylinders does Kaplan sell into the welding market?
Bud Allen, Vice-President of Marketing at Kaplan Industries (BA): It is estimated that 85-90% of our cylinder sales is into the welding market.
How does Kaplan meet custom finished cylinder needs?
BA: At Kaplan we look at cylinder finishing as an art. We have the capability of doing 3-4 colour paint schemes on a cylinder to meet customer needs and to personalize the cylinder by stamping customer name and or other identifying marks. We have four paint lines with the largest capable of hanging 1000 cylinders.
Any recent examples where Kaplan has met special demands from customers?
BA: Again, due to the pandemic, Kaplan used its on hand resources to support customer demands. With the industry facing transportation and logistics issues, Kaplan is utilizing its own truck fleet to deliver product. We also work with those customers that to not do their own filling by drop shipping their cylinders direct to fill plants to be filled thereby eliminating a cost step for the customer. As an essential supplier during the pandemic, Kaplan supplied a US government agency with 5,000 medical D cylinders and 500 250CF cylinders for oxygen that were used on the two hospital ships Mercy and Comfort treating Covid patients.
What trends has Kaplan seen in the welding market recently?
BA: We see a pent-up demand for finished product due to repercussions of the pandemic that far outweighs the current supply. With the shortage of raw materials and items to support the manufacturing processes, severe logistics issues both domestically and internationally. We believe that Kaplan along with other vendors in this industry, will be working through these issues/opportunities into 2022.
How was the welding market affected by the pandemic in your observations?
BA: Initially a dip in the demand was felt as the pandemic took hold and manufacturing facilities and business closed. However, demand for cylinders, with a big emphasis on oxygen and other critical gases were needed, and as a result our business was considered “essential” and we along with other businesses in our industry did our part in supporting critical infrastructure needs.
Can you explain the variety of products Kaplan offers, and what industries it serves?
BA: Kapan is involved in servicing a wide variety of industries with various sizes of both steel and aluminium cylinders: welding Industry, CO2 beverage industry, medical industry, speciality gas packaging industry, propane gas industry, fire fighting and cannabis extraction industry.
What are the capabilities of Midwest Cylinder, and how does it fit into the Kaplan business model?
BA: As part of the Kaplan Family our Midwest Cylinder business completes the circle for complete cylinder service. Midwest services the same customer base as Kaplan with its cylinder reconditioning and hydro services. With its 38 years of expertise in the cylinder service business, it extends the life of industrial steel and aluminium cylinders, medical, reconditioning cryogenic cylinders and propane gas cylinders thereby maintaining the value and service life of asset cylinders for customers. Like Kaplan it utilizes its own fleet of service trucks to pick up and deliver product. From the birth of a cylinder to its end of life, Kaplan/Midwest provides a “circle of life” for cylinders as no other company can.
Have there been any recent developments at Kaplan, following the company’s 65th anniversary last year?
BA: Kaplan continues to always look for opportunities to grow and expand its service level to existing customer base and new industries. Our development in the hydrocarbon gas packaging for cannabis extraction grew substantially last year with additional investment in bulk storage capacity and filling processes. In addition, Kaplan finished it new 1,000 position paint line increasing through put capacity and developed plans for a new 15,000 sq.ft. warehouse facility which is now under progress and to be operational late August.
Is e-commerce an area the company wants to expand into? Is there a market for it in for some of your products?
BA: We have looked at several ways it could support our business, but what we have found over the years that due to a lot of the special/custom work we do for our customers in the welding industry, the ‘human touch’ interface with customers is required!