COO Jared Jones is supplying an international market of aluminum can plants and looking closer to home for customers of a new canning line and other craft-centric equipment.
Bill Jones, Jared's dad, started Codi with a partner to build conveyance speed-ups for the first eight years of the business.
In 2000, they developed the Codi Retrofit System. The patented innovation removed 95 percent of the moving parts from roller conveyors. Anheuser-Busch loved it and kept Codi busy installing it at 12 breweries across the U.S. over the next seven years. "It helped reduce the maintenance costs," says Jared, who joined Codi in 2003.
Business with A-B tapered after the InBev acquisition and Codi "went back to its roots building can plants all over the world," he adds. The business is primarily in Asia, with recent projects in China, Vietnam, and South Korea. "There aren't a lot of new can plants being built in the U.S.," Jared laments.
Now Codi is getting into the canning line business with a counterpressure system that will be on the market soon. After beta-testing the system at Tommyknocker and Golden City Brewery, it's almost ready to go, but Jared says there's no sense rushing it after three years of R&D. "We could have pushed this out last year, but that's not what we're about."
"It hasn't been 100 percent of our focus because the can plant business was so crazy," he says, citing 275 percent growth in 2014. After recent tests, Jared says he expects "minimal time” before it's available; the base unit is about $140,000. "We've got five interested people right now."
"Some of the stuff we're going to do with a counterpressure filler, you can't do with other fillers," he says. There can be considerably more variability in the temperature and carbonation of the beer. "We're evacuating the can before we fill it. We're getting crazy low dissolved oxygen numbers."
It will can more than 40 units a minute. "Speedwise, we're not going to be the fastest," says Jared, touting "the consistency of the fill level, and the quality of the fill, and the ability to handle higher temperatures."
The seamer is a secondary piece that attaches to a filler, so it can be repurposed in a higher-speed line. "It's kind of like a Lego set," says Jared of the modular approach.
"The Brewers Association is constantly reiterating quality, quality, quality," says Jared. "The brewers all know this."
He says Codi is developing a "university program” to help train and educate brewers with a mobile system. "We can come and train in different breweries, different environments, and different beer conditions."
But Codi still provides plenty of can and case conveyance systems, depalletizers, and other canning mainstays, and the company offers contract manufacturing services. About 5 percent of its sales are tied to craft brewing, a number with plenty of room for growth if the canning system takes off.
"We'll build you a conveyor," he says. "That's what we do."
Challenges: "Our biggest challenge is going to be educating as many people as possible why our system is better," says Jared. "There's a lot of things going on from a can perspective that people don't understand. There's a lot of small amounts of knowledge that are dangerous. There's botulism and things like that that goes on with aluminum exposure. There's a lot of training that needs to go on in this industry."
Job-hopping by welders and fabricators is another issue, he adds. "These guys will chase a quarter and go somewhere else. They could have talked to me and I could have got them that quarter."
Opportunities: "Custom fabrication," says Jared. "Because of our can plant business, we spent a lot of money on new lasers and two of the latest and greatest press brakes. . . . Because of the equipment and the engineering and our resources, we can help manufacturers improve their products."
He sees room for growth in Colorado, which typically accounts for 30 percent of Codi's sales. "We'd like to see that at 40 to 50 percent. Our goal is to get as much manufacturing in Colorado as we can. We are going to be aggressively promoting that."
Needs: Skilled workers. "We're constantly looking for talented individuals," says Jared. "We bring in a lot of younger engineers and train them. We developed a system that allows us to get someone fresh out of school and get them into a seat and get them designing and part of the team in a couple weeks. That's pretty remarkable."
Capital needs "depend on how well the fillers take off," he adds, and the company subleases space as it needs it to stage big projects for can plants and avoid clutter at the main 30,000-square-foot facility in Golden.