Timmins manufacturer exports haul trucks
A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, quotes Timmins businessman Rene Fink from an ancient Chinese proverb, as he builds his quickly-growing company one day at a time.
It is this same philosophy that fueled the evolution of Fink’s one-man radio remote control (RRC) company called Nautilus Automation into a 35-employee flourishing RRC, rebuild, manufacturing and equipment sales and leasing company known as the Trident Group.
Not afraid to step away from the security that a service technician/mechanic job provided at Sandvik Tamrock, Fink started his own business out of his basement selling Nautilus radio remote control systems.
“I put up two walls in the corner of my basement, bought a computer and worked out of my garage,” Fink said.
Within a matter of months, his business mushroomed. In fact, over the next four years, Fink moved his business location four times, continually enlarging his work space, adding employees and expanding the scope of services offered. By 2000, Fink and his staff were working out of a 9,000-square foot rebuild and manufacturing facility.
“It got to the point where I was doing so much manufacturing and repairing, the name Nautilus Automation didn’t suit the primary business.”
As a result, Trident Mining Systems was born. By 2005, demand led to the start-up of Z-Equipment, Sales and Leasing. A year later, Fink saw the need to amalgamate the three companies into the Trident Group.
Focused on serving the mining industry, Trident Group continues to sell and service radio remote controls, but the company also promotes its E3 Technology: efficiently engineered mobile mining equipment.
As Trident Group established its expertise in the remanufacturing sector, it also built an impressive reputation for quality customized work, particularly with its hosing and wiring systems.
“I think that is where we stand out,” Fink said. “Although I’m only a very small OEM (original equipment manufacturer), we’re very flexible.”
This flexibility was reflected in the refurbishment of mining equipment for the Stillwater Mining Company in Montana.
“They were impressed with how we were doing wiring, hosing, and rebuilding equipment,” Fink said, specifically addressing wiring and hydraulic systems, which account for the most downtime on equipment. “We want to make sure they are accessible, not exotic.”
Guided by a simple philosophy, Fink tells his technicians to build the machine as if they had to work on it next week. “Put the filters and valves where you can get at them. Put the hoses where they won’t rub. Route the wiring properly so all the wires are identified and the schematic actually matches the machine.”
Before too long, rebuild orders for 12- to 18-ton capacity underground mining haul trucks soon turned into orders for newly manufactured haul trucks.
Willing to face a challenge head on, Fink put his head down and charged forward, developing an engineering department to design and build the trucks. After the initial growing pains with some financial losses on the first three units, the company has reduced its manufacturing time per truck and is turning a profit.
“Now we know right down to the nut and bolt what is needed to build an underground, closed cab, air-conditioned truck,” Fink said.
The new truck features quality components built for easy access and repair. The engine radiator and torque converter are one removable module. The cab comes off in less than one hour and the hoses are easy to service. Fink welcomes input from clients and will make changes accordingly.
“We are not afraid to use the best ideas and put them all together.”
On July 1, 2008, Trident Group moved again to a 15-acre property on Highway 101 East in Porcupine. It’s now housed in a12,000-square foot building.
As Fink settles into his new location, he will continue to sell RRCs, and specialize in refurbishing mining equipment, but his immediate goal is to build more trucks.
Tagged Canada, E3 Technology, Greater Sudbury, haul trucks, Montana, Nautilus Automation, Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Business, OEM, Ontario, Rene Fink, Stillwater Mining Company, Sudbury, Trident Group, Trident Mining Systems, Z-Equipment