By Brad Smith | Jul 26, 2018
Machining and engineering services
Industry: Contract Manufacturing
Products: Machining and engineering services, especially for canning, medical, and defense industries.
Conal Manufacturing was founded in 1980 by Neal McConnellogue, an Irish immigrant who was a engineer widely known in the canning industry. He left Derry in 1958 and came to the U.S., settling in Chicago to work for the Continental Can Company. Later, he moved to to Colorado to become director of manufacturing for Ball Corp. in Jefferson County.
"He was an Irishman who fell in love with the West," says his son, David, who now is the owner of the company, based at a 8,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Golden. David says his father had developed a number of patents in the canning industry and decided to strike out on his own. The Conal name comes from an old Irish version of the McConnellogue surname, David says.
Neal McConnellogue "was a well-known engineer who used to do custom machines for just about anything," David says. Among the company's early customers were Coors and Anheuser-Busch. David came to Conal in 1991 to develop the machining operation and took over the company after his father passed away in 1993.
Neal McConnellogue received several patents, including one for an applicator used to apply an exact amount of sealant to metal can lids. Another was for an easy-open push tab to open aluminum beverage cans.
After David McConnellogue took over the company, Conal computerized its machine shop and got Department of Defense certification for International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) so the company could work on defense-related businesses. "When we started out in 1980 we were mainly engineering," David says. "I'm second generation and we evolved from canning to being a supplier to medical and defense. We stay busy with those."
Conal uses CNC (computer numerical control) machining for its manufacturing, allowing pre-programmed computer software to guide its tools and machinery and freeing up employees for value-added work. The company now has 10 CNC milling centers, six CNC turning centers, and a grinding department. The company provides a variety of surface finishes and uses a variety of metals in its machining, including aluminum, steel and stainless steel, brass, and copper, plus various plastics. Aluminum and steel products are the most common.
McConnellogue says tariffs the Trump administration has placed on metals already has impacted Conal's bottom line. The tariffs, first announced in March, are 25 percent for steel and 10 percent on aluminum. McConnellogue says Conal can't absorb that price increase and has to pass the costs along to its customers. Beyond that, he won't go into details about the company's finances.
As a family-run corporation, Conal will someday be run by David's son, Dylan, who runs the day-to-day operations as vice president. "I'm more on the way out than the way in," David says. "I'm working on an exit someday, but there's nothing concrete."
Challenges: "The economy," says David. "Competition. We've been around going on 40 years and have seen the highs and lows. But we're staying busy."
Opportunities: Continued growth, says David. "Staying competitive and bringing in new work in contract manufacturing" are potential drivers, he notes.
Needs: "We really don't need anything," says David. "We're set up the way we want to be."