RDH-Scharf ready to break into new markets
Company pushing for sales in Europe and Africa
Less than a year after RDH Mining of Alban, Ontario, was purchased by SMT Scharf of Germany, the company is ready to take on the world with its Northern Ontario-produced mobile diesel and battery-electric mining equipment.
Kevin Fitzsimmons, managing director of sales and marketing, recently commented that the takeover that occurred last May saw few changes in the first five or six months at the newly named RDH-Scharf operation in Alban, 60 kilometres south of Sudbury.
But since then, he said, the company is integrating new quality control procedures and some assembly changes at the plant.
Fitzsimmons said one of the key reasons for the Scharf acquisition was the fact that coal mining is on the decline in Europe and Scharf, which was strong in supplying the coal mining industry, made the decision to diversify to hard rock mining.
“They didn’t have anything on rubber tires. They didn’t have scoops, trucks, jumbos, bolters like we do. They just did everything on rail. And it was just mainly haulage bringing men and services to and from the face,” Fitzsimmons explained.
“They were looking for something to diversify. And no one really knows where coal is going at the moment. So they were looking to expand into hard rock mining. They were looking for the next big thing for their company and that’s where we came in.”
He said the company plans to expand in Africa by manufacturing RDH mining equipment there.
“By the end of 2019 we plan on starting to build in South Africa. They’re putting in a manufacturing facility. That’s not going to take away from the Alban facility at all, but it will make it cost effective for those regions by eliminating shipping costs and taxes.”
Fitzsimmons said it will be exporting RDH knowledge and expertise to manufacture robust machinery for hard rock mining on the other side of the world.
“SMT Scharf has 10 branches throughout the world, so we are able to use their sales force. We have locations in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
RDH shipped a battery-powered six-yard LHD and a battery-powered scissor lift to the Electra Mining tradeshow in Johannesburg. The scissor lift was sold and the LHD is being used on a demo basis at various mines in South Africa.
“We have had SMT Scharf people come here and I myself have gone to some of the locations trying to get their people on board to learn about our equipment,” he added.
On the flip side, Fitzsimmons said efforts are also underway to sell SMT Scharf equipment in the North American market.
“They’re the world leaders in monorail technology,” he revealed, pointing out that there are many innovative pieces of mining equipment that could be of interest to mining operations on this side of the Atlantic.
Fitzsimmons said with the changes at RDH-Scharf and stepping out into the international market, the hope is that more companies in Canada will take a fresh look at what it has to offer the mining industry, especially now that the technology for battery-powered mobile equipment is proven.
One of the company’s goals for 2019 is to improve battery power running times on mobile equipment as well as improve the time it takes to recharge spent batteries.
“Those are key priorities,” said Fitzsimmons.
The company has also made some recent additions to its Canadian sales team, including Bert Sartoretto, area manager for Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut, and business development manager Shannen Edwards, who is responsible for visiting corporate offices in such places as Vancouver, Denver and Toronto.
Also new to the team is sales rep Pierre Forbes, who will handle sales for Quebec, the Maritime Provinces and the United States.
Fitzsimmons, whose sales territory is global, has the responsibility for getting everyone in the SMT Scharf sales community trained and familiar with the RDH product line. In 2018, for example, he travelled to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America.
“With all the combined Scharf branches we will have more than 40 salespeople selling for us, so we are hoping to see a big year in 2019,” he said.
Back home in Ontario, he added, the Alban plant is running smoothly. One reason, he admits, might be the progressive idea of providing a company bus to help employees commute from Sudbury.
As many as 15 employees can relax on their way to and from work, a safer way to travel especially on winter highways.
The company-provided transportation helps RDH-Scharf compete with every other mining supply business in Sudbury in attracting skilled mechanics, machinists and welders.
“It cuts down big time on costs for wear and tear on their cars. “We can make sure they’re here safely and on time every day,” he said.