Best Managed Companies 2021

AAG Tailored Cutting Solutions

A pandemic pivot to manufacturing PPE helped meet worldwide demand

AAG Tailored Cutting Solutions is the largest Canadian-owned producer of CNC cutting solutions. “In layman’s terms, we make the tools that you would use to cut anything from a soft foam all the way to titanium and everything in between,” explains Luke Hansen-MacDonald, the president of the business, which is headquartered in Burlington, Ont.

AAG works with a wide variety of industries, which means the cutting solutions it provides vary. “The desk used on Sportsnet for the Super Bowl was made on our  routers, and components that go into U.S. fighter jets are made on our water jets,” says Hansen-MacDonald. In fact, the company sold a water jet to NASA last year.

AAG is able to serve this range of customers because it designs its solutions to be modular, offering endless possibilities for customization. “We can easily and reliably come up with a configuration that’s specific to whatever you’re trying to accomplish,” says Hansen-MacDonald, noting the company manufactures everything in North America, allowing it to be flexible.

There’s also the fact that AAG — formed when Ontario-based AXYZ CNC Routers and Ohio-based WardJet were brought under the same roof in 2018 — can call on 30 years of experience. “We have a huge amount of bench strength in industry expertise,” says Hansen-MacDonald, who came on board a few years ago. “Our job is to support our customers so they can get the output we sold them that tool for.”

When the pandemic hit, AAG found itself helping clients who’d previously been, say, making signs for retail businesses retool their production lines to make PPE practically overnight. “Our machines were used for everything from masks to hospital beds. We even had a letter from the Pentagon telling us that we had to get them a machine as quickly as possible,” recalls Hansen-MacDonald. “I’m so proud of my team for keeping our factory running and going out in the field and supporting our customers.” The company also launched an online forum called Fabricators Fighting COVID, which allows people in the industry to share ideas. “It empowered a lot of fabricators out there to say ‘Okay, my business is down, but I have the equipment to help my local retirement home or keep the economy moving.’” As a result, millions of pieces of PPE were produced on AAG equipment.

Looking to the future, the company has a record number of new products coming out and is investing heavily in its 250-person team. “We didn’t slow down through COVID,” says Hansen-MacDonald, who hints at cloud-integrated smart tools to come soon. “We took it as an opportunity to focus on making ourselves better and coming up with new solutions for our customers.”