Tank manufacturers merge

TWO of Canada's largest tank trailer manufacturers are now one.

Tremcar Technologies of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, has acquired Hutchinson Industries Canada of Toronto in a move that will enhance the tank line-up of both companies.

Hutchinson, a well-known tank trailer manufacturer, will retain its identity. Following the acquisition, the company will be called Hutchinson Industries Canada Inc, a subsidiary of Tremcar Technologies Inc.

Tremcar's strength is in food-grade tanks. The company is particularly strong in the production of stainless steel tank trailers designed for the milk industry. Hutchinson's specialty is the production of gasoline tankers.

“There is surprisingly little overlap in the product lines of the two companies,” says Joe DeSimone, vice-president of engineering, operations, and planning and a veteran of Hutchinson. “It's been a good fit.”

The acquisition of Hutchison has breathed new life in the nearly 90-year-old Ontario company. The goal of Jacques Tremblay, president and CEO of Tremcar, is to double Hutchinson's sales and production.

“To do that, we are relying on many experienced employees that have accumulated years of service with Hutchinson Industries,” Tremblay says.

Approximately 80 people work at the Toronto facility, and Tremcar plans to increase that number by at least 25 next year. But to achieve its goal of doubling Hutchinson production with a disproportionately small increase in employment, Tremcar expects to make up the difference by increasing efficiency through improved material flow and upgraded machine tools.

“Jacques Tremblay is committed to making Hutchinson grow,” DeSimone says. “He walks through our plant, sees opportunities to improved, and makes it happen.”

DeSimone cites this example: Tremblay saw someone manually opening an overhead door and immediately decided to install electric door openers. He recognized that the amount of time spent opening and closing a door was time wasted. Multiplying that amount of time by the number of times doors opened and closed during the day made it clear to him that the door openers would pay for themselves quickly.

“We have new equipment and a new attitude,” DeSimone says. “People are excited by the changes.”

Hutchinson has spent the first few months following the acquisition reconfiguring its 60,000-sq-ft plant to more closely follow the way Tremcar assembles tank trailers.

Traditionally, Hutchinson has used a stall-built approach, but Tremcar prefers to use an assembly line. As September approached, the company already had one assembly line in production, with another one on the way.

“We are in the process of a major overhaul in our production facility and methods,” DeSimone says. “We have gotten rid of a lot of old equipment and replaced it with new. And we have set up workstations that we can use to produce every product we make.”

Those products include crude oil trailers, petroleum B-trains, Canadian cargo tanks, and tank bodies that will be sold and installed through the company's network of distributors.

Among the new tools and equipment that have been installed in the Hutchinson plant are five overhead cranes and new welding machines. The company has upgraded much of the equipment it operated before the acquisition, and a new plasma cutting table is on the way.

The company also plans to expand its workforce by 10-15 employees as business continues to increase.

“The B-train market in particular is very hot right now,” DeSimone says. “

Good for Tremcar

The benefits of the acquisition have been apparent at Hutchinson, but the move also helps Tremcar. For them, the move was strategic, giving the company a product line that includes virtually every type of tank trailer sold in North America. Between the two operations, the combined company now produces stainless steel tanks for milk and other food grade products, chemical tanks, pressurized tanks for specialized transportation of crude oil products, and aluminum dry-bulk trailers.

The acquisition also makes Tremcar more competitive in the United States market, particularly in the Midwest. Approximately 20% of the company's production goes into the U S market.

The Hutchinson facility in Toronto is the fourth. Tremcar's headquarters facility south of Montreal manufactures stainless steel tank trailers. A separate plant in nearby Saint-Cesaire produces aluminum dry-bulk trailers.

Tremcar also has a facility in Strasburg, Ohio. There the company builds pressurized aluminum trailers for petroleum products. The location also houses Tremcar's parts and service operation for its U S customers.

Long history

Hutchinson Industries has a lengthy history. After gaining work experience building horse-drawn carriages and ambulance bodies, W J Hutchinson decided to go into business for himself. He founded what initially was known as Hutchinson Body, Mudguard and Radiator Works Limited.

Through the years the company changed to keep pace with a changing market, leaving mudguards and radiators behind to become one of the industry's top manufacturers of tank trailers. The Hutchinson family owned the company for three generations. W J Hutchinson passed ownership of the company to his four sons — Bill, Ralph, Jack, and Norman. Today W J's grandchildren Stephen and Bill Hutchinson serve as president and vice-president, respectively.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tremblay now owns 70% of Hutchinson, with the previous owners retaining 30%.

“We are glad to be part of this organization,” DeSimone says. “Jacquess Tremblay provides a fresh, innovative outlook on the manufacturing process that has reenergized the entire staff at Hutchinson.”

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