Bushman Equipment builds lifting device for Port of Halifax

Bushman Equipment Inc.
W133 N4960 Campbell Drive, Menomonee Falls
Industry: Material handling solutions
Employees: 45

“If you can make it, we can move it” is the motto of Menomonee Falls-based Bushman Equipment Inc.

The company custom designs and manufactures floor-based and below-the-hook material handling solutions for the automotive, paper, steel processing and aerospace industries. One of its newest pieces of equipment, however, was manufactured for the cruise industry.

Seattle-based Cochran Marine LLC hired Bushman in early April to build a device to lift the extension cords and plugs of its Automated Shore Power System. Delivering electrical power to cruise ships at ports around the world, it eliminates the need for the ships to run their diesel engines while docked.

This specific Shore Power System will be used in the Port of Halifax in Nova Scotia, and the 25,000-pound machine Bushman created has the capability to lift its four extension cords, each measuring four inches in diameter and weighing 1,000 pounds.

A large piece of steel that has been welded will become part of a lifting device.

“It’s like powering a small city,” said Bushman president Pete Kerrick. “It takes pretty big extension cords pumping through a lot of electricity to keep the ship powered up for its port of call.”

The $400,000 machine arrived via truck at the Port of Halifax fully assembled in early October. It was completed by one lead welder fitter who was supported by six other craftsmen that included additional welder fitters, an electrician and material processors.

For a typical project, however, a welder fitter is responsible for the complete fabrication, assembly and testing of the device, while an electrician, a painter, a machinist and material processors provide assistance, Kerrick said.

Bushman recently shipped this piece of equipment, which will be used for powering cruise ships at a port.

In total, Bushman employs 45 workers, including 21 craftsmen and 11 engineers, at its 40,000-square-foot-facility. It also has sister companies located in Hamilton, Ontario, and York, Pa. Its parent company, Xtek Inc., is based in Cincinnati.

While Bushman designs and manufactures new inventions, it also makes more standardized equipment. It can take one week to one year to manufacture a machine, but all projects – no matter how standard – are made to order, Kerrick said.

Each year, Bushman receives 300 to 350 orders for new equipment and 400 orders for parts and services, with 95 percent of its business done in the United States. Besides Cochran Marine, other national clients include Ford Motor Co., Georgia-Pacific, Russel Metals Inc. and Boeing.

Another 2 percent to 3 percent of Bushman’s business is conducted in Mexico, with the remaining orders from foreign countries such as Thailand and India.

Bushman’s equipment is made for both end users and resellers, the latter of which includes original equipment manufacturers and distributors. The equipment lifts objects weighing anywhere from hundreds of pounds to 200 tons and can cost between $1,000 and $1 million.

The company’s annual revenue is approximately $10 million, and Kerrick expects that to remain flat this year. He does expect growth in 2015, however, due to an increase in purchasing activity and general pickup across a number of industries.

Bushman plans to hire up to five welder fitters in the next three years, according to Kerrick, which may result in more shifts. Currently, the company operates one shift.

One aspect of Bushman’s work that Kerrick particularly enjoys is the opportunity to learn about all kinds of industries.

“Every industry manufacturing things needs to lift heavy things, so we get to see how everything is made,” he said.

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