Corporate Profile 
Omni-Lite specializes in design of custom metal-composite products

From the Calgary Herald - High Technology & You

For return on investment, no other technology-based company in Alberta has a track record like Omni-Lite Industries, 20 times an Olympic medal winner, all gold. One of the world's fastest men, Michael Johnson, won his 200-metre title at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games with help from Calgary-based Omni-Lite, a company that has one of the fastest growing stocks on the Alberta Stock Exchange.

The company, which specializes in the design and manufacture of precision materials, helped reduce the weight of Johnson's Nike runners by half with Omni-Lite composite spikes. Together with Johnson, 20 gold-medal athletes chose Omni-Lite spikes in Atlanta.

While the spike supplier of choice in the track-shoe market, through contracts with both Nike and Adidas, Omni-Lite has distributed golf spikes through Canadian Tire and has diversified the application of its lightweight materials into products for the automotive industry and the American military.

With 65 products available in 140 countries worldwide, it is the main supplier of a crucial component in Chrysler transmissions. It also manufactures General Motors air-bag components and a coupling pin used in an ammunition system.

"We feel very connected to Canada and Calgary," says Calgary-born president David Grant, who founded Omni-Lite in 1992.

While one warehouse and the head office remain in Alberta, he runs some company operations and the production plant from Cerritos, California, where administration, marketing and production is all managed by Albertans.

"We believe the company has gained from the entrepreneurial spirit of Calgary. I don't think you can find that same kind of support for a small company anywhere else."

With a 300-per-cent per year increase to sales over two years, Omni-Lite has already paid off it $3 million California manufacturing facility, and has provided its 50 original investors with a 10-fold return.

Last November, with 1997 sales of $800,000 US, the company went public on the Alberta Stock Exchange, listed as OML.

In 1998, with $2.2 million US in purchase orders, and three-to-five-year contracts in hand, sales will be close to $2.4 million.

Independent analysts Brink, Hudson & Lefever Ltd. predict a 60 per cent increase in 1999.

This meteoric success has been acclaimed in The Financial Post, Calgary Business Week and a score of mainstream broadcast and print news media.

While trading at $2.31 per share in July, Investor's Digest magazine predicted a 32 per cent gain in share price, rising to $3.20 over a 12-month period. OML is now trading at $2.40.

As a professional engineer, Grant laid the foundations for Omni-Lite's success with extensive research in metallurgy. His common sense approach to commercial development earned him the support of the National Research Council.

"We spent a lot of money on research and development in the early days," says Grant. "And now we are ready to provide shareholders with a good rate of return."

Omni-Lite's ongoing growth is linked to its soon-to-be patented revolutionary fabricating process and low overhead expenses, which generate exceptionally high earnings.

"We invest a lot in mechanization," explains Grant. "Everything is monitored by computer. It's the only way we can do what we do."

Between its Alberta and California operations, Omni-Lite has just eight employees, three of them engineers. A single operator can produce 100,000 parts per day, all to exact specifications, through a process called progressive cold forging.

The products, made of lightweight metal matrix composites and carbon steel, are formed by machines applying immense pressure instead of heat. The automated process links the cold forging machines to a central computer.

"When you stand in the middle of these machines it all sounds like a symphony, and running the operation is much like being a conductor," says Grant, who is in the process of moving the Cerritos factory and buying five more machines to meet the growing demand for his products.

Grant believes composites are going to play a major role in metallurgy in the 21st century, and calculates an automobile could be reduced in weight by up to 180 pounds just by using composite screws and bolts.

For the immediate future, however, he plans to keep Omni-Lite on the cutting edge of this technology by continuing to produce and improve precision parts for a spectrum of enthusiastic customers.

"We don't have all of our eggs in one basket," he says. "We are a very diverse company that offers an engineering solution to a wide range of companies, and the technology we have developed can be applied to hundreds of thousands of components in aerospace, automotive, sports and recreation and other industries."

More information about Omni-Lite is available through its web site at:

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