Kenco makes sure its parts and equipment for asphalt plants and construction equipment are built to last.
To remain competitive in the busy construction industry, an operation can’t fall prey to being slowed down by equipment or component failures. In the construction industry, time is definitely money, and Kenco Engineering understands that well. That is why Kenco remains dedicated to building parts and equipment that are made to last, always producing “longer wearlife” parts for asphalt plants and construction equipment. By specializing in solving wear problems that cause unnecessary downtime, Kenco delivers reliable value to its customers.
“We are known for providing ‘the good stuff,’” Vice President of Operations Brian Handshoe says. “It’s about the value proposition – our products are high quality that will last. We never try to be the cheapest, we want to provide a long-term value part that will allow our customers to reduce downtime or maintenance.”
Based in Roseville, Calif., Kenco produces wear parts for asphalt plants, loader buckets, crushers, road construction and earthmoving equipment, as well as wear patches and wear plates. Kenco remains dedicated to quality, Handshoe notes, because its strong staff has extensive experience in these industries.
“It’s not easy or cheap to maintain this quality, but we do it,” he says. “We’ve developed a very good sales team with a lot of corporate knowledge, and as a company we have a workforce that is older than average, so we retain all of that experience and applications knowledge. We never try to chase the lower dollar – we go after projects where we have a good chance of providing value for the customer.”
Kenco recently commissioned a new machine that will allow it to perform its tungsten carbide impregnation process on auger flighting. Tungsten carbide impregnation is an exclusive Kenco manufacturing process where a job-suitable parent metal is melted to a depth between .250 inches and .375 inches. While in a liquid state, crushed Kenco tungsten carbide chips are dropped into the molten puddle. The wear part is then allowed to cool, solidifying the tungsten carbide deep in the parent metal. Then, all Kenco wear parts are mechanically flattened to exacting tolerances.
“The inspiration for this machine came from a customer that was having us do our tungsten-carbide process on their parts, which allowed them to save a lot of money and time,” Handshoe explains. “They work in foundation drilling, and our augers allowed them to drill more holes, so there is less repair on a large job. We went from helping lengthen the service life of these parts to now having the capacity to manufacture the entire assembly for them and other people. You can carry this concept all the way down to dust fines augers at asphalt plants or slipform pavers.”
He stresses this machine is important for improving its service to customers and is a great example of Kenco’s strengths. “This machine is key because it gives us the potential to open a much greater portion of the market than we’ve ever had before,” he says. “With this machine, we can manufacture to our designs and specifications as precisely as possible and are not dependent on an outside vendor to do it for us. We see the potential to revolutionize the material transfer industry and foundation drilling market when we combine it with our tungsten carbide process.”
Votes of Confidence
Kenco chose to proactively manufacture parts and stock more items so it can be more responsive to its customers. During the recession, the company cut back to stock only the basics, but now its enhanced stock levels allow customers to maintain an efficient material flow.
“We have a proprietary line of pugmill parts and we’ve greatly increased stocking on these parts,” Handshoe says. “That way, customers can rely on us to have it in case they have a breakage or a failure.”
The company has been growing very well during the last several years, he notes, and 2019 is already a big improvement for Kenco over 2018. The growth is happening faster, and by entering into the auger market, he sees a “very good opportunity” for a native expansion of Kenco’s markets. Its new machine also is creating synergy between markets that the company has never had before. Handshoe explains Kenco’s staff have been key in the company’s ability to grow as quickly as it has.
“We attempt to treat our employees like family as much as possible,” he says. “We allow them freedom, and then they are able to surprise us with their talents on how to accomplish different issues. As long as the job is done properly, we don’t micro-manage. We refer to our sales staff as ‘applications engineers.’ We use products and materials that are best to solve an individual customers’ problems, and then the guys on our manufacturing side come with ways to improve the process. We appreciate our employees’ ability to always expand their horizons.”
President Dave Lutz adds that the skills of Kenco’s employees allow the company to maintain a strong position in the industry. “We have very little turnover in our staff, and therein lies a lot of votes of confidence,” he says. “This is part of why we also have very little turnover with customers. We have been around for 60 years, and we have many of the same customers we started with. That is a vote of confidence, as well, because they come to us for the value we provide. We also deal exclusively with manufactured items from the United States, and customers always appreciate that.”