The Canadian market is experiencing a post-pandemic revival
2022 is shaping up to be a strong year for the lifting, rigging and heavy transport market in Canada. Much better than 2021, actually different “night and day”, perhaps.
“That’s probably the biggest year-to-year difference I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Ed Bernard, president of Precision Specialized. “I know that for us, our 2022 will probably be the best year we have ever had. From our existing customers, one-time quote wins, small and large projects, assets and our project logistics team, everything is at lightning speed Our entire transportation group (under the GTI Group flag which includes GTI Canada, Nomad, GTI USA and Jetco) is experiencing similar market conditions.
Bernard said for the most part, 2021 was not a good year for his business or in general for the market in Canada.
“Project delays, manufacturing delays, we all know what 2021 was like,” he said. “But currently 2022 has been amazing. Rate increases, an abundance of work ranging from small one-off moves to big projects, everything imaginable seems to be moving, and everyone wants to get it done as fast as possible. Our approved orders and pipeline are filling through 2023.”
Bernard said typical deck and double-drop work tops the demand, followed closely by multi-axle work, which are the heaviest and largest loads.
Inflation, high oil and gas prices and supply chain issues are impacting the market and business development, but it has been manageable.
“Certainly we feel it like everyone else,” Bernard said. “From fuel to parts to rubber bands, everything is going up in price. The time it takes to get most of our supplies has also increased. This of course comes with price increases for our tariffs. It’s almost as if everyone decided to raise the prices of everything at the same time.
The hurdles faced by companies like Precision Specialized are similar to those faced by American companies.
“Infrastructure and lack of harmonization with weights and configurations for oversized loads across provinces,” Bernard said. “We can load a 185,000 pound baler with dimensions of 24 feet by 12 feet by 12 feet from Toronto to Baltimore or any port in the northeast on one of our lightweight 13-axle configurations. But we can’t ship that same load west of Ontario to Manitoba or any of the western provinces. Similar situations exist in the United States, but they are more pronounced in Canada. One day, maybe we can all be on the same page and try to reduce the number of differences to move goods of all sizes. It is in everyone’s interest to do so. »
Bernard said once you understand what you can and can’t do and can fix things where others can’t, your phone rings more.
“Manufacturers need it moving, if you can do it, again where others can’t or struggle to do it, that’s a good thing for us,” he said. declared. “We are working with many of our SC&RA colleagues on shipments in and out of Canada. Mainly because they are extremely busy or the required trailer configuration is something they don’t have. It’s no different when we approach one of them for a 19 axle or dual track, that’s something we don’t have. It’s a great partnership. »
Bernard said manufacturers in Ontario and Quebec are getting ready. The West is seeing oil come to life in a big way, he said.
“LNG continues to grow in British Columbia, port work has increased like crazy, especially with the delays in California,” he said. “The stronger U.S. dollar means more exports from our manufacturers to the United States, which means more transportation and more dollars for permits, fuel, and whatever it takes to get a truck to travel from Canada in the United States. It also puts money into not only Canadian companies, but many American companies as well.
Bernard is optimistic about the future.
busier than ever
Likewise, Kevin Kwateng, director of heavy-haul operations for Bellemare, said business is busier than ever.
“We see all of this as very promising right now,” Kwateng said. “The projects are expanding. The challenges are more complicated and the deadlines are getting shorter. But the opportunities are phenomenal. This is what will allow us to grow and become a bigger and better company and we look forward to it.
As for the most in-demand jobs, he said there are definitely a lot of medium-sized machinery projects.
In Canada, there is a lot of infrastructure construction, which means there are a lot of steel and concrete beams to be transported to support the rapid construction of bridges, he said.
“Many factories are retrofitting equipment and making closures,” he said. “We see a lot of things happening in the renewable energy and wind sectors. Most sectors are up. The mining sector probably remains the slowest sector.
Inflation and rising equipment prices have had many impacts on the Canadian market, Kwateng said.
“Today, our customers don’t necessarily ask us what your price is?” he said. “Instead, they ask ‘What is your earliest availability?’ They’re willing to pay for us to be there when they need us.Our customers are so busy that the sooner we can reach them, the sooner they can turn to a new project or move equipment out of their shop floor. Now it’s all about partnering with whoever they can get to get quality, fast service and not slowing down.
Kwateng said it looks like things are going full steam ahead.
“I think things are only going to get escalated,” he said. “The market is now in full force and things are more under control. People are more comfortable with the Covid situation and learning to live with it. We are seeing a greater willingness to travel and manage risk. This adds to the demand. Demand is strong and will remain so for some time.
There are still challenges in the market, and for Bellemare the big hurdle is staff.
“It may cost more money to get steel, but you can get it,” he said. “But having a certified workforce that knows how to operate the equipment and operate it well is hard to achieve. We don’t find them out of college, and the good ones already have good jobs. It’s really difficult to have someone on board and give him the time he needs to grow in his position. Right now, everything is on deck. It’s harder to expand business when you don’t have the right people.
But the positives of the market rebound in Canada outweigh the negatives.
“We are past Covid and we are still alive,” he said. “I mean that wholeheartedly. People have lost loved ones and colleagues. Businesses have failed and no longer exist because of Covid. So we are lucky to still be here and to have our health and a healthy business. We are grateful because we survived and now we feel we can survive anything.
Guillaume Gagnon, executive vice-president of Guay Inc., describes the Eastern Canadian market as “strong demand”.
“The economy has been stimulated by the government with lots of construction projects and low interest rates,” he said. “There is a shortage of crane operators.
Civil infrastructure, building construction, mining and wind turbine maintenance projects are the most in demand, Gagnon said.
“[There is] no energy building but [it] should start again in the near future,” he said.
High oil and gas prices and supply chain issues are impacting the market, but the industry is still thriving.
“Yes, we see high prices for oil and gas,” he said. “Our operating and maintenance costs have increased significantly. There are also greater delays in the delivery of parts and new cranes, which impacts our availability and forces us to constantly review our schedule. »
He said rising interest rates, inflation, rising wages for workers and labor shortages will be a challenge.
“With inflation, oil and gas prices and the impact on the supply chain, we will have to work on price increases and focus well on controlling our expenses,” Gagnon said. “On the labor side, we will be very focused on hiring new employees, but we will also ensure that our current employees are satisfied. »
The Canadian Crane Rental Association (CRAC) Annual Conference will return as an in-person event May 17-19 at the Queens Landing Hotel in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
The three-day conference includes business meetings and seminars relevant to the crane rental industry in Canada, as well as golf, tours and networking events.
A first for CPRC is the Canadian Elevator of the Year award which recognizes excellence in the Canadian crane industry. There are two categories: Less than 20 metric tons and More than 20 metric tons.
■ For registration information, please visit https://crac-aclg.ca/welcome/ or to watch the conference virtually, visit: https://crac-aclg.member365.ca/public/event/ details/0dc86efca50203b0c390c858ccda5d5e9e650dbd