Hercules SLR provides creative and safe material handling solutions for a range of industries across Canada. David Soyka reports on this uplifting approach not only to solve issues safely, but also to save customers money and increase operational efficiencies.
What’s in a name? When Bridgeport Wire and Chain, Ltd. acquired Hercules Sling and Cable in addition to Bison Industries a year-and-a-half ago, the company grappled with what to call itself. “We’re headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and our logo of a bridge and a port made sense to local customers because we are a port town and we have a lot of bridges,” explains Dwayne Fader, Sales Manager for Atlantic Canada. “But it didn’t have much meaning to the customers on the mainland in places such as Calgary, Alberta. The acquisitions enabled us to enter new lines of business, so we were looking to rebrand to reflect that. It just happened that the name of one of our acquisitions was perfect – Hercules is the picture of strength. We added the initials for ‘securing, lifting and rigging’ and we became Hercules SLR. In a relatively short time, that name has become a widely recognized brand identity that denotes quality and certifiable safety solutions.”
Indeed, if the mythical hero Hercules is famous for throwing off chains, the company Hercules SLR has become famous for helping customers properly chain in their safety issues. “We provide custom designed material handling solutions for a range of industries throughout Canada and the USA. Market segments we serve include oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation, forestry, fishing, mining, marine, aerospace and construction,” Fader notes. “We have eight shops and over 200 employees that offer everything from part sales to custom fabrication. By offering ‘one-stop shopping’ with a complete line of securing, lifting and rigging products that we can readily integrate into a complete solution, customers benefit from reduced procurement costs, less paperwork and fewer contacts, resulting in quicker turnaround time, enhanced service and exceptional finished products.”
Hercules SLR specializes in lifting and rigging products (such as wire rope, chain and web slings) special forgings and heat treatments and custom fabricated lifting equipment including work stands, towing fixtures, conveyer hooks, low and high capacity rolling carts, platforms, dock plates and robot welding cell structures. The company also rents equipment for most work applications, ranging from basic fall protection to lifting hardware and slings.
Hercules SLR is primarily an assembler of components that may involve additional custom steel fabrication, forging, heat-treating and machining. The key to the success of any solution is careful engineering, both to provide an efficient design and minimize material and fabrication expenses. Hercules SLR facilities are registered to the Canadian Welding Bureau, ISO 9001:2000 and Ontario Power Generation. Hercules SLR can do low volume, custom flame cutting using CNC equipment that is accurate to within 1/32 inches on material up to three inches thick. There are a variety of product finishes including shot peened bare metal, sand blasting, black oxide, wet applied enamel and epoxy paint and powder coat paint.
Like every other company today, Hercules SLR is trying to cope with the rising and frequently unstable costs of raw materials. “We try to manage that the best we can by developing strong working relationships with our suppliers,” Fader says. “Just as we seek to develop partnerships with customers to design the best solutions, we seek to partner with our suppliers, as well. We don’t see suppliers as just somewhere to source parts from – they’re participants in helping us help the customer. So, by working closely together we can be more efficient and cut down on expenses. While there’s no price on safety, prices have to be fairly managed for everyone involved. That’s always one of our key concerns – for us, our suppliers and our customers.”
The company was founded 23 years ago, but its latest incarnation is the result of the vision of new ownership that began nine years ago. “Chris Giannou, our president, wanted to distinguish us as a company that addresses customer needs and provides benefits, as opposed to just a parts supplier. Key to realizing that vision has been the acquisition of other businesses to expand our product line and obtain operations that are closer to our customers,” Fader says. “We intend to continue growing organically, but at the same time we’re looking for opportunities to acquire businesses that fit our strategy and enhance what we can offer to customers. While it’s true that acquisitions do present issues that can become distracting, it’s like the old saying that it may be hard to swallow an ice cube, but eventually it melts. Overall, business is robust and our expectations are for minimum annual growth rate of 10 percent for the near future.”
What’s driving this growth, according to Fader, is increased regulatory emphasis on safety. “Of course, companies are always concerned with worker safety. But the trend is towards regular inspection and certification and most of our customers aren’t sure exactly how they are supposed to deal with it. Hercules SLR, on the other hand, has the expertise and resources to manage this process for our customers. So there’s not only more peace of mind in having top-quality equipment especially designed to maximize worker safety, there’s peace of mind in not having to deal with an unfamiliar and at times cumbersome regulatory certification process.”
He adds, “What also differentiates us from our competition is that all of our parts are traceable. We know when something was put in service and when it requires inspection. You can walk into any hardware store and buy chain, but that isn’t the chain you want on your rigging system.”
Inspection and Certification
Hercules SLR has a dedicated inspection and certification team trained to ensure all equipment complies with industry standards and regulations, which includes load testing up to 350,000 pounds (hydraulic, water weight), non-destructive testing (magnetic particle, loads), and destructive testing up to 265,000 pounds. The team also maintains all inspection and certificate records, provides advance notice of inspection due dates, and schedules appropriate service.
Hercules SLR can also inspect and reverse engineer lifting equipment in order to provide certified drawings, lifting capacities and nameplates for existing equipment to become compliant.
“It’s another one of the many value adds we offer that cust-omers appreciate as part of a complete turnkey systems solution,” Fader explains. “Our approach is to ask the customers what they want, and we’ll come up with a solution that does it for them. Our intent is always to raise the bar beyond their minimum expectations.”
Hercules SLR employs a dedicated sales force and services everything it sells. “Used properly, these systems will last for the life of the needed application,” Fader maintains. “But regular ongoing maintenance is essential. All inspections comply with industry and legislative standards. Our team has had training from a number of leading international companies who specialize in lifting gear application and material handling.”
In turn, the company makes customer training a big priority. “You can’t compromise workplace safety,” Fader remarks. “And it doesn’t matter how good your equipment is if you don’t know how to use it. Our training division provides a range of customer training courses that we provide either on-site or at one of our facilities. Topics range from the science of lifting to the use of forklifts and overhead cranes to steel wire rope manipulation and installation. An educated customer is a safer customer.”
Making sure companies have safe work environments is what Hercules SLR is all about. It’s the most secure choice.