Judy A. Camp
Writer for Carr Lane Mfg. Co., St. Louis, MO
An ability to change is vital for today's manufacturer. Carr Lane Manufacturing Co. has grown and thrived in its 47-year history, largely by being innovative and evolving with manufacturing. Carr Lane provides industry-standard parts to engineers in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, furniture and appliance.
Carr Lane's goal, under the ownership of Earl and Myrtle Walker, has always been to stay ahead of an evolving industry.
Most recently, the Internet has initiated major changes, by revolutionizing the information-gathering process. To meet this demand, Carr Lane's 550-page catalog, along with a distributor locator, are now on line at www.carrlane.com.
Important to engineers, Carr Lane's CAD/CAM tooling library, the Tool Designer's Assistant®, is now available free on the web, allowing engineers to utilize full-scale part drawings.
New technologies and new methods have sped up the entire manufacturing process, and Carr Lane has continued to provide engineers with innovations.
Known primarily for clamps, knobs, and jig and fixture components, Carr Lane carries more than 100,000 items, including toggle clamps, plungers, modular fixturing, drill bushings, and power workholding. Carr Lane offers a single source for any machine shop.
The idea that became the basis for Carr Lane Mfg. Co. came to Earl Walker in 1952 while he was working as a foreman in the Tooling Division at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co., where he saw an ever-in-creasing need for standardized parts.
Mr. Walker and a few others began to manufacture parts in an old wooden garage in St. Louis. Making pins for McDonnell Douglas, they worked nights and weekends while day jobs provided funds for equipment.
In 1953 their old welder started a fire, burning down the garage. The company relocated to larger quarters, and 46 years of growth began.
Myrtle Walker, key to the company's success, oversaw the building of an inventory of commonly used parts, and initiated a policy of 93% to 96% of orders received by 3 p.m. being shipped the same day. The policy is still in effect.
In the early 1960's, aircraft building and OEM manufacturing were rapidly expanding. Carr Lane positioned itself on the leading edge by committing to an in-stock inventory, a solid chain of distributors and superior customer service.
Over the years, the company added thousands of new products, as engineering innovations continued.
In 1997, Carr Lane received ISO 9001 certification, important since Carr Lane now exports globally.
To assure Y2K compliance, Carr Lane went on line May 24, 1999 with a new Oracle integrated computer application system for order processing, inventory, and purchasing.
The company catalog, now over 550 pages, is meticulously watched over by Vice President Raymond Okolischan for consistency and accuracy.
Watching every aspect of production has been a central part of Carr Lane's success.
Today, Earl and Myrtle Walker attribute a great deal of the company's success to a willingness to make changes as needed. "If you want to be successful, you have to be flexible," Mr. Walker said.
The two owners also attribute much of their success to their 300 distributors. But most importantly, they both believe in and practice their original corporate philosophy of striving to provide "Savings Through Standarized Parts."
Carr Lane. Using flexibility and innovation to stay ahead of a rapidly changing industry.