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Haul truck manufacturer goes global

December 1, 2011
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News with 0 Comments

 

“I was the marketing department until now and suffice to say, I haven’t been doing a very good job. Trying to do 50 things at the same time doesn’t work out.”A heavy-duty mechanic by training, Fink started in business building remote control systems in his basement. One thing led to another and, before he knew it, he was remanufacturing underground mining equipment.One day, he got a call from the Stillwater Mining Company of Montana.“They were having a hard time getting rebuilds in the U.S., so they came to Sudbury and someone there told them they should come up and see us,” recalled Fink. “I was out of town at the time and didn’t know they were coming, but they must have liked what they saw because they called me up and said ‘we’d like you to rebuild one of our trucks. Can you come down here?”

Fink assumed he’d be one of several companies bidding on the job.

“I figured there’d be me and a few other companies, but I got there and I was the only one. We looked at the truck and before we even got around to talking about money, they said they’d send it to me the following week.

“They liked what we did with the hydraulics and the electrical system, so they asked us if we could build a new truck. I said ‘I can’t. We’re just a rebuild shop.’ So they said, ‘What if we bought the frame?’”

The first truck was followed by a request for four more. To date, Trident Mining Systems has built 15 haul trucks for Stillwater, including thirteen 16-ton trucks and two 20-ton units.

The company has also sold several trucks to EastWest Gold Corp, a Kinross Gold subsidiary, for use in Siberia. That sale came about as a result of a recommendation by Hatch’s Sudbury office, which provides engineering services for Kinross operations in Russia.

Word of mouth has taken Trident this far, but the strategic marketing program the company participated in this year convinced Fink that he had to take it up a notch.

He hired Focus America, a Toronto-based sales management consulting firm that led a session on sales management as part of the Strategic One-on-One Export Marketing Program, and is getting serious about database marketing and search engine optimization to boost business.

“We’re going to take a different approach,” said Fink. “We’re going to hire someone to help me with all the legwork and, eventually, we may bring in a salesperson.”

Adopting a new, ‘Go big, or go home’ philosophy, Trident is also ratcheting up its investment in trade shows.

“I was at MINExpo in Las Vegas (in 2008) with a 10’ x 10’ booth and some posters,” he said. “This time, I decided to rent a 20’ x 34’ space for $28,000 and I’m going to bring down a haul truck with me. I’m a pretty good salesman, but it’s a lot easier to sell steel and rubber than a piece of paper.”

Fink is also looking to diversify Trident’s business to take the sting out of the cyclical nature of the mining industry.

He has already made some inroads into the Colombian tunneling market and plans to explore opportunities for supplying underground equipment used in North American tunneling projects.

The Strategic One-on-One Export Marketing Program was “very effective,” said Fink. “I highly recommend it.”

http://tridentgroup.ca

 

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