By Sari Huhtala
Innovation in metal fabrication has landed a New Liskeard-based business with provincial acclaim and opportunities to expand markets. This year, Wabi Iron and Steel Corp. captured the provincial Global Trader's Award for their ongoing partnership with Eagle Crusher Company Inc., an Ohio-based company that manufactures crushers for the mining industry.
Wabi's local manufacturing plant provides general fabrication, custom machining and assembly services to a variety of industires.
"We have a relationship (with Eagle Crusher) where we work very closely with them to develop special alloys that are going to excel in the marketplace," Todd Steis, regional sales and marketing manager, says. "Every year we help them develop new alloys and go the next step."
The partnership began in 1994, and today it represents about 12 to 15 per cent of Wabi Iron's business, or about $1.8 million in sales, Steis says.
"It's a substantial amount, and as we look at different products it would be easy to see that grow another 15 to 20 per cent," Steis says.
In 1994/95, Eagle Crusher had "a very small percentage of the resale market," Steis says.
At that time, a lot of offshore product was coming into the market and manufacturers were able to produce a less expensive crusher, but the life of the crusher was short-lived.
Wabi Iron developed a higher quality product for the manufacturing of the crushers and Eagle Crusher has since then reaped the rewards of increasing their percentage of resale business by large numbers, he adds.
Wabi Iron projects growth of about 10 to 15 per cent annually, depending on market opportunities, says Steis.
"We did develop new markets in 2001 and are looking at further expansion in that customer base," Steis says.
Wabi Iron has remained "fairly diversified" with clients in a number of different industries. Mining, however, is the largest industry the company serves, with about 30 per cent of their business in that sector. About eight per cent of their business is within the forest industry.
A "fairly large amount of capital" has been invested into the company over the past few years to introduce new technologies that would reduce costs and increase efficiencies, Steis says.
Their local plant employs about 128 people. They also have sales offices in the United States, and in Quebec to serve the Maritimes, as well several sales agents throughout Canada and the U.S.