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Rocking the mining sector

Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals partners with Komatsu and SMS Equipment for continued growth and success

Few companies in the heavy equipment sector have grown as quickly as Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals. Headquartered in Camrose, Alta., the company has grown by leaps and bounds over its 20 years of operation. Known initially as Dutchmen Equipment & Rentals until it's name change in 2009, when the ownership structure changed, the company experienced its first major spike in growth in the mining sector after taking on a contract at Canadian Natural Resources’ Horizon oilsands site in 2011.

“From there, it just exploded on the mining side,” says President Jesse van der Werf. “In 2012 and 2013, we purchased Ledcor’s larger mining assets. In 2014 and 2015, we purchased some of Graham’s [mining assets]. And in 2016, we entered into an agreement to take over Emeco Canada, which came from Australia – that was a big acquisition for us.”

After acquiring Emeco Canada in 2016, all the companies rebranded as Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals. The company then purchased the Canadian division of ECCO in 2017 and acquired Blue Diamond Rentals in 2020.

Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals experienced significant growth, with annual revenues increasing from $350,000 to now expecting over $650,000,000 and expansions to over 15 locations, including satellite branches.

Van der Werf acknowledges that Heavy Metal’s capacity to attract exceptional individuals and ensure their continued presence has been a fundamental element of their success. Building a team of highly motivated and dedicated individuals is undeniably the foundation of Heavy Metal’s achievements.

Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals

Choosing the right equipment

The company’s primary focus over the past 12 years has been serving the needs of its mining sector clients by ensuring that it has a fleet that can meet its customers’ needs.

With 28 hydraulic shovels in operation, Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals boasts the largest fleet of hydraulic shovels in the world for an independent company, according to van der Werf, adding that the company is also most likely the largest owner of Tier 4 Final 400-ton trucks in the world. When selecting equipment to add to its impressive fleet, the company always has its customers top of mind.

“We're very customer-focused, so we start with a customer’s requirements. If your customer is not happy, then you're not going to have success,” explains Clarence Boutin, General Manager of the Oilsands Division. “From there, we look for a balance between performance and cost. At the end of the day, we need a high-performing machine that is cost-effective to operate. Customer requirements drive everything, and then we analyze the data and component values and figure out our labour costs associated with running maintenance and components, and we put it all together in a package and present it to the client.”

As a privately owned company, Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals can respond to customer needs quickly and efficiently when reviewing potential additions to its fleet.

“Often, those decisions will boil down to a client’s site,” explains van der Werf.

The company’s latest purchase was a brand new Komatsu PC7000 hydraulic excavator driven by client demand.

“We ended up going with Komatsu because they could deliver the fastest, which was important, and it made the most sense economically,” says van der Werf.

While they have a long-standing partnership, SMS Equipment and Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals’ relationship grew by leaps and bounds when the company purchased its first Komatsu hydraulic shovel in 2016.

“We appreciate the Komatsu product from the large shovel side,” Boutin adds. “The PC7000 is a very fast, highly productive machine, and there's also that balance between performance and what it costs to maintain. We find customers like it because of the cycle times, and we can maintain it efficiently. We've had good performance from our previous PC7000, which was one of the reasons to continue down this path.”

Van der Werf adds that SMS Equipment being a national equipment dealer is another reason the company likes to partner with them to meet their clients’ equipment needs.

“One of the nice things about dealing with them is we can deal with them here [in Alberta], or in Newfoundland, or the Northwest Territories, they’re everywhere,” says van der Werf. “That is a key advantage for us when we move equipment from one end of the country to the other, given our North American presence.”

The service advantage

One of the main reasons that Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals opts to purchase a large amount of Komatsu mining equipment is due to the service SMS Equipment can provide to each machine.

“My relationship with SMS Equipment started back in the Transwest [Mining Solutions] days, going back over 20 years,” Boutin recalls. “After 20 years of developing relationships, you're able to sit down and collaborate effectively. What I like about SMS Equipment is that they’re customer-focused. They listen to their customers, and they react in a timely fashion, which is our business rule.”

While focusing on serving the customer is key for selecting an equipment dealer, Boutin says accountability is also vital.

“Underneath it all, there has to be accountability for creating value. Over the years, I’ve found that SMS Equipment matched our level of focus. It’s very apparent, you can see it, and we're very integrated,” he says. “We have site services. We've got labour-supporting shovels on all our sites. We have shovel-outage crews that come out and help. We use the welding services at SMS Equipment extensively. The reason why is because there's value in it. And if there's any kind of disagreement, they're open to wholehearted conversations.”

Access to the highest levels of leadership within SMS Equipment is one of the reasons that van der Werf appreciates their partnership.

“We get to deal with the highest level of executives,” he says. “They’re able to make quick decisions and be accommodating when you have to be creative with a financing solution to make something work. They've always been able to work through that with us, and that's been important for our growth. As a strategic partner, you're investing in each other.”

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