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Equipment World’s growing family is reaching out to all of Northern Ontario

Equipment World saw a need to expand its Thunder Bay operation into Northeastern Ontario in the late 1980s and went from one location to three within a few years. It opened its Sudbury division in 1987 and its Sault Ste. Marie division in 1990.

Equipment World saw a need to expand its Thunder Bay operation into Northeastern Ontario in the late 1980s and went from one location to three within a few years. It opened its Sudbury division in 1987 and its Sault Ste. Marie division in 1990. Due to their growing success, both locations have relocated and expanded since their beginnings. Equipment World is now proud to say they can service all of Northern Ontario, from as far west as Kenora to as far East as Barrie, Ontario and north to the Quebec border.

Aaron Wise is the newest member of the corporate management team, as he has been the Sault Ste. Marie division manager since April 2012. Having lived in the Sault Ste. Marie area all of his life, he truly is a northern boy. 

“My wife and I, along with our three daughters, truly enjoy the Northern Ontario lifestyle and all it has to offer. I have spent the majority of my 18 years in business in various roles, with the primary focus being in Engineering and Operations Management.” 

When asked about his decision to join Equipment World he said, “Following much discussion, it was evident that the business philosophies, the progressive nature of the team and the commitment to the company values closely matched my own.” 

He continues with a smile, “After a year with Equipment World, I can absolutely say it’s held true. Being a manager with Equipment World has proven to be a very rewarding experience. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with and lead some great teams. 

I can confidently say the team at Equipment World is top-notch. Each individual truly brings a unique perspective to the team and is focused on providing the customer with the best creative solution to suit their needs.”

Chris Fillator, or “Coach” as many people know him, has been leading the Sudbury team since December 2006. Chris knows the Sudbury marketplace very well. 

Born and raised in the neighbourhood, he grew up playing sports and travelling throughout Northern Ontario for tournaments and events. 

The father of three boys and one girl, he has been involved within the community for a few decades. Many people are aware of his superior hockey skills and motivational coaching strategies. He knows only too well what it’s like being on the road, both personally and professionally. 

“I spent 23 years in the sales field within the Industrial Sector, so I was very familiar with the primary markets that Equipment World serviced and it felt like it would be a good transition for me.” 

To add to his initial challenges as the new Manager, in October 2008 Equipment World opened a brand new facility at 1130 Lorne Street. “When I started with the company, we were next door to our current location in a strip mall. It has been very exciting to customize our new, standalone building to best suit our company’s needs.”

Lyle Knudsen, company owner, expands on their flagship location. The 17,000-square-foot site located at 1130 Lorne Street is the fifth local location the company has seen in its 26 years in Sudbury, and represents what Knudsen refers to as a “huge leap forward” for the company.

Part of these lofty expectations is the ability to involve their suppliers’ tried and true goods throughout the building. This ranges from the use of 'bolt-together' pallet racking to a high-speed traffic door from Rite Hite. 

It also includes equipment storage drawers from Rousseau, a company with which Equipment World has had a solid relationship for 30 years. 

“We definitely had a vision with this building, and that was to integrate a lot of products that we typically supply and provide to our customers as solutions for their needs,” says Knudsen. “We had the luxury of taking a building as a shell and incorporating a lot of these concepts into our building, right from the front counter through to the rear loading dock and everything in between.” 

This allows the building to double as a showroom where working examples of the products are on display, proving not only their functionality but also Equipment World’s confidence in them. Having full ownership of the building has also allowed officials to design the facilities to meet their exact needs, which are changing as the company expands. 

This has led to the construction of a warehouse, multi-media training facilities, an equipment auditorium, a construction department as well as parts, service and sales offices. It also features a fully equipped 8,000-square-foot mechanical shop which includes a wash bay, overhead crane and more work bays for staff, whose numbers are gradually increasing as the business grows. 

Starting out with an empty shell allowed Equipment World to also be able to look into the use of various Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) concepts, which they continually promote to their customers. By including a number of energy-efficient systems such as double insulation for the ceil­ing and walls, infrared heating for the warehouse and shop areas, and ultra-efficient light­ing Knudsen hopes they can have as much of an impact on improving the environment as on the bottom line.

Each division has its unique challenges and marketplace trends, and this adds to Equipment World’s ability to diversify and expand their product offerings. “The Sudbury marketplace is extremely dependent on the mining industry. 

This goes up and down in cycles. Fortunately, we are currently in an upswing of the cycle. Having survived the lows of 2008 and maintaining steady sales as a company, we are stronger because of it,” says Sudbury Division Manager Chris Fillator.

Aaron Wise mentions how the Sault Ste. Marie division tries to position itself. 

“With increased competitive pressure from web-based business commerce, as well as other local competition, our team is extremely focused on ensuring we get the word out to our current and prospective customers that Equipment World has a full-service value proposition. By educating the customers on our full product offering including service, parts, training and construction specialties, we believe we will win every time.”

When asked about the Sudbury Division’s success, Fillator states, “I believe the most important thing that has brought us success has been the strong team atmosphere that we have implemented. We all have specific jobs to do but we can count on each other for support when we need it.” With Sudbury as their base storefront, they also have Account Managers who regularly visit and service the North Bay and Timmins areas. 

This allows for consistent communication from Equipment World throughout all of Northern Ontario. Diversification seems to be a common theme for Equipment World. “We offer such a wide range of products. There isn't a business in Sudbury that we can't sell something to,” Fillator says. “We provide quick, efficient and knowledgeable service from our now 25 employees locally. This gives our team a reputable name which creates re-ordering and new orders from new customers, new projects, etc.” 

Fillator’s team has also been recognized by vendors and suppliers over the past few years for earning sales achievement awards from Toyota Industrial, TVH, Loadlifter and Rousseau Metals, just to name a few. 

“It’s very rewarding to be recognized for doing well in our industry.”

Although these interviews were done separately, this message is echoed by Wise: “In the past year, it has become increasingly clear that we will need to continue to explore non-traditional markets to ensure continued growth for our business. Although we do not want to forget those customers that have been partners with us to this point, we must broaden our focus to new market segments and geographic areas. 

Equipment World is well positioned for this growth due to our customer focus of solutions based thinking, and vast product offering. This diverse product offering allows us to create value to virtually every customer in every market segment.”

When asked about past successes and upcoming marketplace trends, Wise says over the past couple of years, the Sault Ste. Marie Division has kept busy with the large amount of construction work in the area. He continues, “This has included both the building of new and remodeling of several existing schools, the completion of the new hospital, the construction of a new Public Utilities Building and more.  

Although there are still some significant projects on the horizon, reduced government spending on infrastructure will result in a decline in this area.” Over the next couple of years, he says, “I believe we will see further development in the renewable energy sector in Sault Ste. Marie. This has been an area of growth over the past several years and will continue for the foreseeable future. We have also seen significant increases in our Health and Safety training, as companies and organizations continue to take a more proactive approach to ensuring safety in the workplace.” Fillator has a similar strategy, saying, “We rarely find a challenge we can’t solve for our customers. Each day we have the opportunity to help our customers improve how they operate.  

That’s probably what I enjoy the most about what we do. Equipment World constantly provides new and innovative products to the mix and supportive product training to staff, which includes chances to travel throughout North America. We need to be two steps ahead of the competition, technologies and products, and I think our resourceful team does that well.” 

Both Chris and Aaron speak highly of the Equipment World family. 

“Equipment World has endless opportunities for employees to better themselves. They support staff with school, training and courses, and they make it a meaningful experience for them to want to get ahead and achieve different goals as a team and as an individual,” says Fillator. “Every day I am confident in my abilities as a manager because I know I have the support and trust I need to guide my team. I know I can count on others to get the job done because we work well as a management team.”

Equipment World foresees positive growth in the future. Knudsen notes, “We are continually hiring new staff at each location to meet our growing needs. Our website has a dedicated Careers section——where we post our most current available positions.” He continues, “We are expanding each location by adding more office, storage and/or warehouse space and we are always looking for new and innovative product lines and vendors to further meet the diverse needs of our customers. With a solid management team in place, I am confident we can continue to provide Great Value and Great Service to all our customers within Northern Ontario and beyond.”

“Equipment World has a giant heart. They care not only about their staff but the families of their staff, too. They are a family-oriented company that gives back to the community through participation in community events, sponsorships of sports teams and fundraisers.” 

Fillator concludes, “Equipment World is not only a place to work with other individuals but we are a family that works together to ensure we can achieve success for our customers and ourselves.”

“I believe in order to be successful leaders in business we must think, communicate, organize, and drive. Firstly we must think through the idea or vision. We must then communicate it to the team. We then must organize a plan or strategy on how we are going to implement the plan. And lastly, and most importantly, we must drive for the results.” Wise summarizes, “As business is continually changing, it is even more critical to adhere to these basic principles to achieve the desired results. I can say with the utmost confidence that the team at Equipment World is well positioned to achieve those results.”