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THE DRIFT 2020: Timmins bucket fabricator eyeing export market

DJB Mining Products marks decade in business

The year 2020 marks a full decade in business for Daniel Brunet, who operates DJB Mining Products out of a 27,000-square-foot shop in the west end of Timmins.

Specializing in the custom fabrication and remanufacture of buckets and bucket lips, welding, and portable align boring, DJB employs 41 people at locations in Timmins and Québec, which serve mining clients across northeastern Ontario, Québec and western Canada.

It’s quite a long way from the one-man enterprise he started out of a 1,400-foot trailer back in 2010.

“I haven’t seen a dip (in business),” Brunet said. “The only thing I’ve seen is myself picking and choosing the jobs that we’re doing and refusing work; I can only take so much. We’re reputable in the industry, so I’m pretty grateful.”

Originally from Cochrane, Brunet started out in the forestry industry at the age of 16 before transitioning into mining during a downturn. He started out with a focus on custom align boring work before branching out.

By the age of 20 he was leading his own team, well versed in fabrication on buckets, salt skips, ore cars, locomotives, and more.

His work took him to North Bay, and then back to Cochrane, before he settled permanently in Timmins, where he was travelling daily to service the mines.

By 2010, he was growing, and with a workforce fluctuating between four and 10 employees, DJB Mining Services was launched.

DJB soon landed a contract with MTG out of Barcelona, Spain, to become the exclusive North American manufacturer of its cast lips.

“It’s made us who we are today and who we continue to be,” Brunet said.

He now has a sales team and managers to help run the business, but Brunet continues to work on the floor alongside his employees.

Among his equipment are a 400-tonne press, five- and 10-tonne overhead cranes, a CNC plasma cutting table, and a drill press.

DJB moved into its current facility in 2017 but quickly outgrew the building’s capabilities.

Over the winter, the company knocked down some walls to create a more fluid space, and added more power to the shop, bringing in another 800 amps of service.

“That way, we could put in new equipment, because we were kind of tapped out on how many people we could hire,” Brunet said.

New equipment includes a 400-amp cutting table, and a state-of-the-art painting booth, along with a new service truck. Brunet is also eyeing more crane capacity to handle buckets, some of which weigh up to 52,000 pounds.

These changes mean that Brunet can now hire more people, and he is on track to bring on another eight to 10 welders within the next few months.

He’s also supportive of placement and apprenticeship programs that give learners their start, since he remembers what it was like to be young and looking for opportunity.

In particular, he’s eager to work with nearby Indigenous communities to encourage more band members to come on board.

Brunet is focused on sustainability and longevity, and yet he remains cautious and practical when it comes to expanding the workforce.

“Everybody you bring on is family, and they have families to feed,” he said. “So you want to make sure that you can sustain that business and not, six months from now, say, ‘Hey, sorry, you’re out of a job.’”

As he reflects on 10 years in business, Brunet said 2020 will be a year of restructuring for the company, with export to markets in South America, Australia, and Nevada top of mind.

“There’s a need for it, but first I want to make sure that our business is run smoothly,” he said. “I want to make sure that we can deliver when we say we can.”