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We build trucks that owners want to own, and drivers want to drive,” says Luc Stang, President & CEO of GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx, which comprises multiple business units and partnerships that variously manufacture, install and service work truck modifications and custom trailers used in specialized and severe duty applications. These include up-fitting for dump bodies on Class 3 and larger trucks, roll-offs and hook lifts, cranes, flat tilting trailer decks, and snow and ice removal systems.
About 70 percent of GINCOR’s trucks and trailers are sold through dealers, with the remaining through direct sales. “While many of our products are custom designs, we do also build for dealer inventory,” Stang explains. “We work with our dealers to determine what our customers most likely need in a truck or trailer and manufacture accordingly. Given that a made-to-order design can take anywhere, depending upon the complexity of the application, from four weeks to four months to manufacture and deliver, customers experiencing a sudden or unexpected uptick in business may need of a truck they can drive off the lot. So we do provide a number of pre-built vehicles to anticipate those situations.”
GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx is based in Canada with 14 locations across the provinces, with about a half million square feet in manufacturing space. The head office is located in Mattawa, Ontario. Business is split roughly evenly between truck and trailer sales, and while it does market throughout North America, sales below the 45th parallel are primarily trailers. “The regulations for trucking vary not only between Canada and U.S., but also among provinces and states,” Stang says. “Trailers on the other hand are fairly standard regardless of where they are operated. Since our manufacturing and service centers are based in Canada, most of our trucks are made for the Canadian market.”
Stang emphasizes that what differentiates GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx from other truck body up-fitters and trailer manufacturers is the experience and passion of its employees. The company employs 550 and when Stang says they are passionate about their jobs, he isn’t merely using a current buzzword.
“GINCOR itself has been around for forty years,” he notes. “Other business units we’ve acquired or partnered with are equally well-established and recognized in our industry. We have people on our staff with 50 years tenure and many have been with us for 25 years or more; we don’t have a mandatory retirement age and we have some employees in their seventies still working for us. These are people who see themselves as vital contributors to our industry who are committed to making high quality products.”
Built on Experience
It’s no surprise then that GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx considers investment in its employees as one of its key differentiators. “We deal with four or five OEMs for the truck and the chassis, and then we build on that. We don’t have a lot of automation. Because much of the work is custom, we need skilled craftspeople,” Stang says.
Unfortunately, trade schools aren’t emphasizing traditional manufacturing skills such as welding as they once did when the company’s more veteran employees were younger. “These days the technical schools seem to be more focused on programming and other high tech training,” Stang says. “However, we do work with local schools and colleges to offer apprenticeship programs in the skill sets we need. In terms of general hiring, we look for people who have attitude and aptitude that we can then train with the required skills.”
He adds, “A few years back when business was in a downturn, unlike some of our competitors we continued to develop both our people and our capabilities. As demand came back for our products, unlike some of our competitors, we had the people and processes in place to provide customers with the quality and innovation they needed.”
The company’s commitment to the highest workmanship is backed by what it terms as the best warranty in the industry. “We try to match the OEM warranty, which can be anywhere from three to five years. Most of our competitors only offer as little as 30 days, or at most a year,” Stang says.
This is the other half of the GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx equation: “Just as we’re committed to our employees, we’re equally committed to our customers,” Stang says. “For example, many of our customers are in seasonal businesses, such as snow removal. They make their money only during four or five months— they can’t afford to have equipment downtime just when they need their equipment to work. So, first off we strive to provide equipment that isn’t going to fail in the first place. Then, if it should, we have trained service staff either at one of our locations or through one of our dealers that are immediately dispatched to fix any problems and it get it operational with minimal turnover.”
GINCOR itself has grown through acquisitions and partnerships. Stang foresees the truck up-fitting industry as a whole undergoing consolidation. “Back in the 1970s just about anybody could set up shop,” he points out. “Now these people are getting older and their kids aren’t particularly interested in carrying out the family business, so they are either selling to a larger company or just getting out altogether. It’s similar to what’s happening to auto garages— there used to be a mechanic on almost any corner who’d do any kind of work on just about any kind of car. Now you’ve got a Jiffy Lube specializing in oil changes and some other big operation doing only mufflers, and you’ve got this specialized segmentation while the smaller operators start to disappear. Our industry is starting to go in the same direction.”
For GINCOR Truck & Trailer Werx itself, business is plowing ahead. “Our customers service different industries, but most of these are tied in one way or another with infrastructure development. With the exception of oil and gas, what’s happening with infrastructure here in Canada is very similar to the situation in the U.S.—projects are getting funded and new construction is confidently going forward. We intend to continue to build the vehicles and equipment that meet our customer needs and provide them with the highest return on investment.”