By Dan Pelton
There are a number of explanations as to how long a business lasts.
If it is around for a year or less, it can be assumed the business fit the statistical probably that 30 to 50 per cent of new ventures fail in that time frame. If a company lasts five years, its demise could be chalked up to such factors as conflicting management philosophy and/or inadequate profit margins.
When a company celebrates its 25th anniversary, though, it’s safe to say it is an established and dynamic business. Bay-Lynx of Ancaster, Ont. fits into this category.
Established in 1992, the family-owned operation designs and builds construction industry equipment at its 50-employee, 3,716-square-metre plant. Bay-Lynx specializes in spreaders, volumetric concrete mixers and steel-beam cambering units.
The expertise is also in place to customize Bay-Lynx’s offerings to a client’s specific needs.
“A large reason for our success is listening and adapting to the customers’ needs,” figures Bay-Lynx president Greg Kopelaar, adding that the company has evolved from an equipment manufacturer, and is now a business solution provider that manufactures construction equipment.
“We know that keeping a customer typically costs less than creating (a new customer),” says Kopelaar. “Nurturing that relationship produces great value and provides return for both parties, year after year.”
To illustrate the Bay-Lynx strategy and mission, look at its volumetric mobile mixers; invaluable to the construction industry since they allow for a precision mix of concrete ingredients and water on site and produce the exact amount of concrete needed;
Considering it has been around since the 1960s, mobile volumetric mixing is hardly a new technology. The key, here, is to update and refine a brand to make it stand out.
This is an example of how important it is to offer value-added services when approaching a perspective client. In the case of Bay-Lynx, a major benefit they bring to the table is their expertise gained through experience.
Bay-Lynx not only offer a standard stock mixer, they work to tailor the machine to the client’s specific requirements.
“As part of the sales process, we really examine the business to see if it really will be profitable and fit into their strategic plan going forward,” Kopelaar said.
The involvement is thorough to a point where Bay-Lynx often works with the client to develop return-on-investment estimates, like advising them on how much concrete they need to sell in order to break even or make a profit.
As for maintaining the equipment, itself, Bay-Lynx has a 372-square-metre parts and service department to ensure any mechanical contingency can be addressed.
Having been in business for a quarter-century, and staffed by folks who have been in the construction game longer than that, Bay-Lynx is obviously familiar with the ups and downs of the industry. After all, construction starts are often looked at as the barometer of how well the overall economy is performing.
The question is how does the cyclical nature of construction affect the manufacturers of its machinery? Kopelaar points out that an equipment manufacturer needs to be willing to diversify.
“For our past experience, we saw more of the first expression. During the 2008 economic downturn, we saw a drastic drop in equipment orders and if customers had work they were repairing and refurbishing machines,” recalls Kopelaar. “This is what led us to diversifying into Volumetric Mixers.|
As they had the machine building capabilities of welding, painting hydraulics, and electrical, Bay-Lynx was able to adapt. They diversified into the volumetric concrete mixers and snow plows in 2010. The snow plow business was eventually sold as Bay-Lynx became more focused on their growth strategy.
“However, in the past years we have seen resurgence in the market, with concrete being the number one building product in the world,” says Kopelaar. “We see massive potential in the mixers and the ability to diversify globally.”
Thus, Bay-Lynx has expanded its offices to the United States and Britain.
In order to succeed, Canadian manufacturers usually need to penetrate and establish a foothold in foreign markets. The United Sates is a huge source of clients for Canadian companies.
Lately, however, there have been nationalistic rumblings in America—and throughout the western world, for that matter—urging people to buy products made in their own country and to forsake those manufactured elsewhere.
“I believe the relationship between Canada and the US is very strong,” Kopelaar said. “We do not get much back lash regarding this. There is more the feeling that it is North American made, in regard to the relationship Canada has with the US.
“We know our business depends on producing a well-built piece of equipment that our customers can make money with. It is because of this, we believe the U.S. will continue to consider Canadian built Bay-Lynx equipment.
As the future unfolds, Bay-Lynx plans to focus on the volumetric concrete mixers and spreaders.
“Both these products are different, but often our customers are in the business of both services, so the fit is nice,” concludes Kopelaar. “Both products also have similar process in regards to manufacturing, so we can get them through the plant seamlessly.
He also sees the company benefitting from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, which will eliminate 98 per cent of existing tariffs.
“Going worldwide helps us diversify via geography, which we feel will support us into the future … especially in light of the CETA agreement.”