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Exporting, partnerships fuel 40 years of growth

Kirkland Lake - Heath & Sherwood (1964) Ltd. has creatively diversified and sought out markets all over the world, maintaining competitiveness at home and abroad.

Kirkland Lake - Heath & Sherwood (1964) Ltd. has creatively diversified and sought out markets all over the world, maintaining competitiveness at home and abroad.

The business began as a drilling and manufacturing company in 1927 catering to the mining sector in Kirkland Lake.

Over time, both sectors grew and developed their own markets, which led to the division of the company in the 1950s. Now, brothers Peter and Michael Marinigh, with Phil Cancilla, own and operate the manufacturing business.

The 35- to 40-employee company works on its five-acre site, within an 11,000-square-foot shop and 3,000 sq. ft of offices. Cancilla operates a smaller 4,000-sq.-ft. facility in Mississauga.

Heath & Sherwood exports between 60 to 70 per cent of its products, and supports its sales with “top-notch” service. Although much of its inventory is in Kirkland Lake, supplying and delivering products and spare parts around the world helps maintain competitiveness. Agents are also placed throughout the world, supporting the products.

“The products we sell we support,” Peter says. “We have spare parts in the country to support customers there.”

The company has three main product lines/services:

• smelter-related (its largest line - 50 per cent);
• mineral-processing related (30 per cent); and
• custom manufacturing, welding and machining (20 per cent), which services local industry.

In the late ‘60s, the Noranda Group, a think tank of scientists in Rouyn-Noranda, developed a product called the Gaspé Tuyere Puncher, an automated mechanism that blasts air through refining furnaces at smelters to keep the air holes clear. Heath & Sherwood was hired to take it from prototype to an actual product. Soon, they were granted a licence to market the device all over the world.

“That is the biggest part of our business,” Peter says.

What used to be a manual, day-long job involving two men pounding a sledgehammer through the holes is today accomplished in 68 seconds (one pass) by remote control. The Gaspé Puncher can be found in local smelters such as Inco and Falconbridge, as well as other international mining operations.

In 1998, it won the CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum) Innovation award.

It wasn’t long before the Noranda Group came up with other products for which Heath & Sherwood has acquired licences.

In the mineral processing area, the company continues to design, manufacture and produce automatic sampling systems, which takes statistically correct samples.

Peter says there is a certain protocol to follow when minerals are processed at the mill.

The device measures samples at different phases of the process, tracking each stage of the mineral’s trip through the mill.

“You want to know what is coming into your mill and what is going out,” he says.

Custom work caters more to the local industry in mining and forestry, but the company will accommodate anyone who requires their services.

Another Noranda development for which Heath & Sherwood Ltd. now has the marketing and manufacturing rights is a computer-based electromagnetic non-destructive wire rope tester called Magnograph. It is designed to test hoist cables and is sold primarily to the mines or testing companies.

The company has creatively developed inroads into global markets by representing other companies’ products and vice versa.

“We have other companies representing our products,” Peter says. “We sell a line of crushers from Australia and a line of drills that are used in the smelter business from Chile.”

The company has also developed its own markets in other countries by having the product manufactured there.

Peter says Australia is very patriot about “buying Australian-made” items. So the company developed a partnership with an Australian company, which manufactures Heath & Sherwood’s products.

“It worked out well for both companies,” he says. “They were looking for products and we were looking for sales.”

They have similar manufacturing ventures set up in Brazil, Chili, Mexico, Peru and India.