BLACKFALDS — As tough as it’s been for many Central Albertans to find a silver lining in the recessionary cloud, Jamie Young can identify a few.
Branch manager of Wajax Industries’ new sales and servicing outlet in Blackfalds Industrial Park, Young faced a far different economy when the doors to his shop opened this May than was the case when construction started a year ago. Demand for cranes and their servicing — the core of Wajax’s business in Blackfalds — had declined.
But Young said he’s been able to develop his staff and equipment, and prepare for the inevitable increase in activity. That’s included meeting new customers, learning their needs and developing relationships.
“Building up the confidence that we’ll be here when they need us,” he summed up.
The Blackfalds branch is one of 31 that Wajax operates across Canada. Other locations include Calgary and Edmonton, which previously served Central Alberta.
“Logistically speaking, it just made sense to be here,” said Young.
Products carried by Wajax include Palfinger knuckle boom cranes and Weldco Hydralift stiff boom cranes, Hitachi excavators, Hyster forklifts, and Tigercat forestry and logging equipment. The company also customizes and installs equipment for customers’ specific needs, said Young.
“It could be up to a two-month build to prepare it for the end user, depending on how they want it.”
The Blackfalds branch also services equipment and operates a parts department. This has eliminated the need for local customers to travel to Edmonton or Calgary for servicing and repairs.
“That was why we centralized the crane repair facility,” said Young, pointing out that a minor breakdown previously could have taken equipment out of production for days.
“We can bring it in here and have it out in an afternoon.”
The 33,000-square-foot Blackfalds shop is Wajax’s biggest. It contains 18 bays, with dual overhead cranes, and sandblasting and painting facilities.
Staff currently numbers 10, said Young, with this figure expected to grow.
Although some of Wajax’s biggest accounts were already located in Central Alberta, establishing a bricks-and-mortar presence here has raised the company’s profile.
“New customers are coming daily,” said Young.
The energy sector generates much of the demand for Wajax’s products and services, but the company’s customer base is diversified, he pointed out. Road construction, basement excavation and even drywall supply are industries that use cranes.
Wajax Industries is the mobile equipment division of Wajax Income Fund, which dates back a century and a half to a blacksmith shop in Montreal.