Gator Kennels Unleashes Creativity & Boosts Productivity With MultiCam Routers

Specialist manufacturer harnesses power and precision of fleet of nine MultiCam machines to more than double production

  1. Purchased first MultiCam machine in 2003, growing to a fleet of nine across two decades
  2. MultiCam routers enabled acceleration of production capacity, meeting customer demand and driving business growth
  3. Precision engraving and repeatability of quality gives company USP in North America

The inspirational story of the success of Gator Kennels actually dates back to 2003, when the company was then known as Gator Products. With a growing customer base and an already solid reputation for developing prototypes and making quality products to order for other companies, owner and managing director Joshua Robinson thought a CNC router would be a sound investment to enable faster production with greater consistency.

“When we were first looking for a routing machine, there was a company just up the road from us that made metal signs,” said Joshua. “They showed us around and we saw their MultiCam machines in action, and figured that was what we needed.”

For two decades, those machines have been solid, totally dependable - and on the rare occasions that you do need to do maintenance work on them, they’re incredibly easy to work on.

Perfect machines for precision routing

The growth of the Colorado-based company began in earnest in 2008, when the global economy was in turmoil. “We were going along quite well until the economic downturn really took hold,” said Joshua. “As many businesses struggled, we took the opportunity to pivot into specializing in kennels.”

Gator Kennels’ designs comprise a metal frame structure, with reinforced aluminum supports and joints, with a secure door made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

“They’re big, bulky and therefore not something that we had to worry about competitors using offshore businesses to build,” said Joshua. “And of course, we already had our MultiCam MG Series machine, which was perfect for making the kennel frames and doors.”

Joshua said that a USP for Gator Kennels is the personalization capability, engraving names, logos and other detail into the doors. “It happened by accident really,” he explained. “Early on, a customer ordered a bunch of kennels with plain gates. Although she was very happy with the way they looked, she said ‘You know, what would be really cool would be if we could have a big paw print on the front of the door.’ Transfers, stickers and even paint can get scratched off, but you can’t easily scratch off an engraving!”

We use the MultiCam software and the precision routing capability to bring designs to life on the doors, and the ability to do that has attracted new customers for us.

Boosting productivity to meet demand

“We didn’t realize how large that potential customer base was, until we got into it,” said Joshua. “Between all the various veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels and humane societies , there is a huge market. And of course, everyone loves their dog, so a strong, sturdy and attractive shelter is always going to be needed.

“As demand grew, we soon learned that our single machine just could not keep up with the number of orders coming in. Our lead times had begun to hit six months plus, and people simply can’t afford to wait that long for their kennels.

“We added two MultiCam 7000s to our setup, effectively doubling our production capacity overnight,” he said. “This brought considerable benefits in terms of productivity. The machines are accurate and precise and make repeatability and achieving uniformity easy.

“Creating the basic shape is sped up by the machine, but where it really adds value for us is the ability to engrave branding, logos and fun patterns into the plastic gates. We are the only kennel manufacturer in the US offering this level of personalization on kennels like this,” said Joshua.

This was an investment in machines that not only helped meet the current demand, but that would also allow us to grow further.

Optimized efficiency to maximize throughput

By 2021, in a post-Covid world where dog ownership had boomed, the company was again faced with growing demand. “We added two more machines to our setup – this time the MultiCam Apex3R,” said Joshua. “We use these to construct the doors from HDPE, while the other machines cut and rout the metal fittings from aluminum. Having machines dedicated to each material means there is no need to change tooling and settings as we change material.

“To further speed things up, we use the carousel tool changer for plastic sheet work, and the linear fast tool changer for the aluminum. This makes the process considerably faster and makes everything more efficient, ultimately boosting throughput speed.”

In the summer of 2023, Gator Kennels’ trajectory of growth had continued to such an extent that the company moved from its original 8,000 ft2 home to a fantastic new 25,000 ft2 facility. “We had really outgrown the old unit, “ said Joshua. “We were so packed in that we actually had to drive the forklift out one side and go around the building to access the other side. Moving to the new unit gives us the room we need, and we also have further space available for future growth,” he said.

We added another four Apex3R machines to the setup in the new facility and doubled our team, so we now have 16 employees using nine MultiCam machines to produce our kennels.

This new setup means there are now six MultiCam machines cutting and engraving the HDPE doors, with three dedicated to making all the aluminum fittings, corner posts and stiffening the framework. “With the precision and maximized productivity we get from the MultiCams, we are able to manufacture anywhere from 15 to more than 20 kennels a day,” said Joshua. “We have already boosted productivity massively from where we started, and we’re looking forward to the next exciting chapter in our story as we continue to grow.”

About the customer

Since 2008, Gator Kennels has worked on a huge number of exciting kennel projects, delivering bespoke and branded equipment for everything from boarding facilities, breeders and daycare facilities, through to grooming companies, rescue centers and veterinarians. Its creative designs and investments in production facilities and equipment have led to more than two decades of growth and success.

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