Houle has his son’s dreams to live up to, but the veteran heavy equipment guru is confident he and his staff are up to the challenge.
“In spite of the harsh loss, the company is going forward to fulfill the dreams Kevin had to be the number one supplier of quality equipment in the North,” Houle said. “We’ve accepted what has happened. It has been a horrific two years since we lost Kevin. It’s tough for me to talk about it without getting emotional. It brought me back into the company after being retired for seven years. Kevin did a great job. He had big dreams. It’s the desire of everyone at the company to keep the spirit of Kevin’s vision going. We’re on track to do it and that is what we are going to do.”
Tracks and Wheels is expanding and changing for 2011 to meet the lofty goals of the former president and his relentless quest to be the best in the mining equipment industry.
Houle’s confidence is based on a lineup of products designed for the most extreme mining environments, a team he knows he can count on and big plans for expansion and change.
The company has hired a new president and is adding 6,000 square feet to the shop to expand the manufacturing facility and increase overall efficiency.
“We’re confident mining will be the lifeblood of this operation for a long time,” Houle said. “It’s all about having the right people to do the right job.”
Tracks and Wheels’ MineMaster line of mining equipment is the company’s hallmark. MineMaster machines are in operation all across Northern Ontario in a variety of applications.
As mines have become deeper and more machinery and equipment is used, diesel emissions have become more of an issue. Keeping pace with the needs of its customers, Tracks and Wheels constantly researches and develops new, more versatile and multi-purpose MineMaster machines with state-of-the-art engine technology that reduces emissions and complies with newer standards.
The Torquematic GEN III all-in-one vehicle, MT6500PC Personnel Carrier, MMLP80 Forklift and M845 Grader are examples of the extensive MineMaster lineup.
The Torquematic GEN III was re-designed after more than five years of underground testing, using valuable feedback from customers and the implementation of newer technology. Improvements includ
e a Kubota diesel engine with increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions, an upgraded electrical system, heavy duty copper radiator and double walled pipe exhaust technology. The Gen III has also been made maintenance friendly and its mechanical parts and components have been coated with a special paint for extended life. It can be equipped with a multitude of attachments, including loader arms with forks, forklift masts, scissor lifts and rear baskets.
“We’re thinking for the miner when we design these machines,” engineering manager John Le said. “Losing Kevin in 2009 was a big loss for us. Kevin always had great ideas for our machines. He was always thinking about the miners who had to operate the machines and how to make the experience better for them. We are following his goals.
“The Torquematic GEN III has improved stability. We also brought the hood down 15 per cent to increase visibility for the operator, and with the new engine, the ride is smoother. It is an all-in-one machine.”
The MT6500PC Personnel Carrier provides a balance between strength and agility. It’s just 60 inches wide and 200 inches long, but has room to carry 10 people plus the operator.
The MMLP80 is a low profile, rough terrain underground forklift with a lift capacity of 8,000 pounds and overall height of 79 inches. The M845 has a sleek profile design with a solid frame and a rear hood that slopes away from the operator’s compartment to provide a 360-degree view. It boasts an overall height of 96 inches and has a full eight inches of ground clearance.
“The MT6500PC is the smallest, but can carry a lot of people and is durable and compact. The MMLP80 lifts the most and is the lowest and can go from one level to another,” Le said.