Hite Services does the heavy lifting
Company specializes in hoisting, inspecting, training and engineering
When it comes to lifting, Hite Services Ltd. has the upper hand on the market.
With a business plan built around cranes, whether it be hoisting, inspecting, training or engineering, the Sudbury-based company has continued to reach new heights over the past 18 years.
In March of 1997, Luc Bidal, vice-president, and Ritchie Castonguay, president and CEO, joined forces to launch the company.
Bidal, a native of Sturgeon Falls, 90 kilometres east of Sudbury, came from an inspection background with a specialization in cranes, while Castonguay was a hoisting engineer with the railway.
Hite (an acronym for Hoisting, Inspection, Training, Engineering) offers services such as inspection and certification of lift equipment (on- or off-site), non-destructive testing of wells, operator training and custom engineering and fabrication.
The company also provides accident investigation services, fleet maintenance scheduling and equipment sales and rentals, among other services.
The company is based out of a 10,000-square-foot shop and five-acre yard in Sudbury, but has established a growing reputation around the globe.
The co-owners attribute the wide-reaching success to Hite’s front line workers.
“Having skilled people to meet demand is a big thing,” Castonguay said.
Hite Services employs roughly 35 people with mechanical, welding, inspection and training backgrounds and brings in additional contractors and temporary staff as required.
Training is a big component of the company’s offerings.
“We’re accredited with the Ministry of Education to do the demonstration of skills for crane operator apprentices,” Castonguay said. “We’re the only ones in Northern Ontario who have that designation.”
In fact, Hite’s training programs are regularly booked solid four months in advance.
“All our trainers are mobile but we have classrooms (in Sudbury) as well,” Castonguay said.
Courses are offered for mobile crane, boom truck, locomotive crane overhead, forklift, rigging, man lift and crane safety.
“All our instructors are professional trades people,” Castonguay said. “Right now, the workforce is short of skilled trades people, so when you have an instructor who is highly trained in the desired field, he’s very valuable to our clients.”
Inspections and training are the main driving forces behind the company’s operations. However, Hite continues to expand its range of services.
In the past 10 years, Hite began offering crane rentals in order to meet a growing demand from customers.
“Clients were requesting cranes so we started buying cranes to rent in 2005,” Bidal said. “Our crane fleet has now increased to about 18, which get rented out all over Ontario.”
Roughly five years ago, Hite broadened its scope in an effort to respond to a growing need from the mining sector, engineering a retrieval system to aid in the underground extraction of heavy equipment following rock falls.
“The mining industry had a scoop tram retrieval system that was too light for the modern equipment,” Castonguay said. “We were asked to develop something. I came up with a unit that would pull double the capacity they had in the beginning.”
The unit has been sold to mines across Ontario, with one unit being kept in Sudbury for use in emergency situations.
That’s where the engineering component of Hite Services Ltd. comes in.
“We get a lot of calls for custom engineering and jobs that other people don’t want to touch,” Castonguay said.
Hite’s clientele is a diversified group.
“We cater to any industry — mining, forestry, construction, pulp and paper, rail, etc. — and all those who service those industries,” Bidal said. “Mining probably accounts for half of our business. Our client base has grown substantially over the years.”
Bidal and Castonguay agreed that their greatest success has been customer loyalty.
“That’s what keeps you in business,” Castonguay said. “In a service business, keeping clients satisfied with your workmanship is the biggest accomplishment for all the Hite staff.”
In the near future, Hite is hoping to expand its space, and subsequently expand its ability to hire more staff, upgrade its classroom facilities and serve more clients.
“We’re always growing,” Bidal said.