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Fabricator moves to a bigger stage

DJB Mining Products and Services expands in Timmins

If Daniel Brunet’s name seems unfamiliar to many in the mining service and supply industry, it won’t stay that way for long.

In December, the 31-year-old owner-operator of DJB Mining Products and Services Ltd. opened an 11,000-square-foot shop along highway 101 in Timmins, fabricating customized mining buckets, refurbishing and rebuilding buckets, manufacturing bucket lips, and providing on-site welding services.

It’s a giant step forward for Brunet, who had been operating under the radar from a 2,800-square-foot shop on his private property on Kamiskotia Road.

A demand in the industry led to steady growth for his burgeoning business, and a need for space and employees quickly followed.

“I started with a one-man show, and now we’re currently employing 18 people,” Brunet said. “We went from eight full-timers to 18 in the last three months and we’ve tripled our business.”

Taking up shop at a former Aecon facility in the west end of Timmins, DJB has landed a contract with MTG out of Barcelona, Spain, as the sole North American manufacturer for its cast lips.

The product has been tested over the last three years and proven its durability and longevity, Brunet said, and the industry is starting to notice.

DJB has landed a three-year contract for the cast lips with a mining company operating in Timmins, and negotiations are underway with more prospective clients.

“We’re the first ones in Canada to put these to the test and we’re the second ones in the world to put them to the test,” Brunet said.

To date, the cast lips have been distributed in Alberta and Quebec, and Brunet has plans this year to open a second location in Quebec to better serve that province. He expects to hire between six and 10 employees for that location.

While it may seem Brunet is new to the industry, he’s anything but.

Originally from Cochrane, Brunet started out in the forestry industry at the age of 16 before transitioning into mining during a downturn.

By the age of 20 he was leading teams of 10 workers, 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 about 2010, he was growing, with a workforce fluctuating between four and 10 employees.

He’s now brought on a sales force and managers to help run the business, while he works on the floor alongside his employees.

“My motto’s always ‘quality over quantity,’ and it’s brought us to where we are today,” Brunet said. “First you become good, then you become fast, and that’s bringing on key people.”

Brunet started out as DJB Align Boring Customs before branching out, and his shop still houses align boring equipment, along with a 400-tonne press, five- and 10-tonne overhead cranes, a CNC plasma cutting table, and a state-of-the-art drill press to fulfill orders.

If demand continues to soar, Brunet anticipates expanding his workforce to 35 within the year.

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.

A decision to bring on two college students three years ago has more than paid off, as the two remain on Brunet’s staff today and are “probably two of my best guys,” Brunet said.

“What we used to do in a month we do in a week now,” Brunet said. “It's good for everybody. It creates jobs — that's the whole idea.

“We're 18 (employees) today, but my plan's always to feed families, and if I can do more of that, and make some money at it and pay things off, that's the goal.”