Kuriyama Canada Inc. may have an international presence, but it operates as a small shop that listens to its customers’ needs.
With headquarters in Japan, multiple manufacturing facilities in Canada and the United States and customers throughout the world, it is easy to think of Kuriyama Canada Inc. (KCI) as nothing more than a global player in the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) hose industry. While that is the case, Terry Jackson, president and director of technology for Kuriyama Group of Canadian Cos., says KCI maintains the attitude of a startup looking to make a name for itself.
“Our culture remains one of a relatively small company, even as the overall corporation grows,” Jackson says. “This sets us apart from many of our competitors who tend to take a more corporate approach to business, sometimes losing the direct, one-on-one communication and the personal commitment needed to maintain each individual market segment.”
KCI operates as the Canadian core company of Kuriyama Holdings Corp. of Osaka, Japan. Based in Brantford, Ontario, KCI was established in 1984 as the first flexible PVC hose company in North America manufacturing products in a single continuous process, going from pellets to finished coils of hose in one operation.
In 1989, KCI acquired Accuflex Industrial Hose Ltd. Of Guelph, Ontario, a specialty thermoplastic hose manufacturer specializing in the propane hose, beverage dispenser hose and tubing markets. KCI launched Kuri Tec Corp. in 1991 to distribute hose products from its manufacturing facilities in Canada. Kuri Tec Corp. also manages the transfer of Canadianmanufactured hoses to its American affiliates owned by Kuriyama of America.
Today, Kuri Tec Corp. is the largest manufacturer’s distributor of thermoplastic hose products in Canada, selling Canadian-manufactured products under the trade names Kuritec, Bevlex, Polywire and K-Tough. The company also distributes products made by its American affiliates, most notably Tigerflex Corp. and Piranha Hose Products.
“Our path to market is primarily through distribution in Canada and our affiliated sales/distribution centers in the U.S.A.,” Jackson says. “As do all of our global affiliates, we promote the concepts of ‘The Kuriyama Value’ and the ‘One- Stop Shop for Hose and Accessories.’”
KCI’s main focus is on food-grade products, including bulk-food transfer, plumbing hoses, propane hoses and beverage hose and tubing for the two major North American soft drink companies. Both factories are registered to ISO 9001 standards, and they have specific certifications under NSF, UL and CSA for various products.
In order to customize materials for specific applications and ensure quality, KCI mixes its own flexible PVC compounds. In 2016, Jackson says KCI will be the first hose manufacturer to completely eliminate phthalate plasticizers from its product line, making it easier to ship products to Europe and California without specific labeling or material declarations.
One of the company’s most recent innovations is a combination of a new, rugged, oil-resistant hose named K-Tough.
“We continue to strive to utilize thermoplastic materials in novel ways, often being able to replace traditional industrial rubber hoses with nontoxic, food-grade alternatives,” Jackson says. “This product epitomizes our long-established objective of utilizing the special physical properties of thermoplastics to enhance the performance of products traditionally manufactured from rubber materials.”
KCI also aims to anticipate the needs of its customers, often surprising itself with its knowledge of the market ahead of demand.
A few years ago, KCI used the expertise it gained in the beverage industry to develop an NSF61-certified drinking water hose for use as a municipal water bypass hose to connect homes to temporary water mains during periods of construction. The PUREFLEX hose brings water to individual residences without a compromise in taste and purity, according to Jackson.
In 2014, KCI was able to supply, on short notice, truckloads of this product to Winnipeg during a critical period. Unusually low temperatures and sparse snow coverage led to broken water pipes, which Jackson says left 6,000 homes without water. The same situation has arisen in many Canadian cities since, and KCI has provided a suitable solution when called upon.
“Until the introduction of the PUREFLEX hose, there was no suitable long-length hose that would satisfy the stringent requirements outlined in the NSF61 standard,” Jackson says.