The Canadian construction equipment industry saw a major shift in late 2019 when the Brandt Group of Companies concluded an agreement to acquire the assets of Nortrax Canada Inc. and Nortrax Quebec Inc. from John Deere.
The landmark deal was a strategic move by the family-owned company to unite all John Deere Construction & Forestry dealerships in Canada under the Brandt banner, creating the country’s first and only coast-to-coast-to-coast equipment dealer network. The agreement has opened the door for Brandt to deliver seamless access to Deere products, parts and support services to Canadian contractors.
“This acquisition is a very exciting step for us,” said Brandt President and CEO Shaun Semple. “We work very hard to provide value for our customers and the addition of Nortrax’s impressive branch and distribution network gives us an unprecedented opportunity to offer a consistent customer support experience anywhere in Canada, no matter where our customers’ projects take them.”
With the acquisition of the Deere-owned Nortrax locations in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Semple family now owns and operates 56 John Deere Construction & Forestry dealerships with more than 100 service points across Canada and more than 6,000 units of new and used equipment inventory.
The company also employs more than 800 certified service technicians and delivers anywhere in Canada from the largest parts inventory in the industry.
The deal has further established the firm’s position as a premier privately-held Canadian company and the largest John Deere dealership in the world.
The acquisition of Nortrax was a logical next step for the Regina-based company, the latest in a series of expansions undertaken by the Semple family, starting 25 years ago.
The story of Brandt
The story of the Brandt Group of Companies’ journey from small-time local company to major equipment dealer and industrial manufacturer began in 1932 with Brandt Electric — a small electrical contracting firm that later expanded into agricultural manufacturing as Brandt Machine and Manufacturing.
Gavin Semple, the father of current President and CEO Shaun Semple, began working in sales with the company in 1972 and rose to become president and general manager by 1976. He soon acquired controlling interest and was joined by his son Shaun in 1984 when the company had revenues of only $6 million dollars.
In 1992, the Semples created a new division, Brandt Tractor Ltd., and became John Deere’s exclusive Construction & Forestry dealer in Saskatchewan. They expanded the business into Manitoba and southern Alberta in 1995 with the acquisition of three dealerships and again in 1999 when, with oil prices low and the industry downsizing, Shaun invested in the future, acquiring dealerships in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Grand Prairie, Alberta.
By 2001, a dealership had also been established in Milton, Ontario and in 2002, Brandt was able to acquire 13 dealerships in British Columbia. In 2013, five more dealerships were added in the Atlantic Canada region, bringing the total to 27 and making Brandt the largest John Deere Construction and Forestry Equipment Dealer in the world.
From Day 1, the Semples have focused on customer support as Brandt’s main priority. To help ensure the success of their customers, the company has expanded the breadth of its offering significantly over the years to include offerings from some of the top equipment suppliers in the world in roadbuilding (Wirtgen, Hamm, Vögele, Kleemann), underground excavation (American Augers, Trencor, Ditch Witch), forestry (Hitachi), truck rigging and specialized transportation (Camex – acquired by Brandt in 2018), positioning technologies (Topcon, iVolve), machine monitoring (JDLink, FleetWise), as well as utility and heavy haul trailers.
The company recognized along the way they could add additional value for their customers by leveraging their extensive manufacturing capabilities to design and produce purpose-built attachments for the equipment they sell.
Their Brandt Equipment Solutions division now markets a more than 3,000-unit catalogue of Deere-optimized custom material handling attachments such as buckets, blades, thumbs and couplers to companies across Canada and the United States and in select markets around the world.
They also do machine conversions for specialized applications such as oil and gas pipeline installation and heavy-materials handling where John Deere does not otherwise offer a standard solution.
“We have a lot of customers working in highly-specialized industries where it is necessary to customize standard construction equipment to meet their production requirements,” said Neil Marcotte, senior vice president of Sales – Manufactured Products at Brandt.
“For example, we saw an opportunity to build a better sideboom for the oil and gas pipeline industry, based on the oval track driveline that Deere employs on its dozers. Its allowed us to rethink the decades-old design that the industry has traditionally relied upon to deliver an all-new unit with a super-low centre of gravity. We worked with Deere engineers on the design and performed all of the modifications at one of our plants here in Regina. The pipeline industry has embraced the new unit with open arms.”
In addition to its investment in the construction and forestry equipment business, the company has numerous additional divisions serving customers in Canada, the US and more than 20 countries around the world; serving the construction, forestry, agriculture, rail, mining, steel and energy industries.
The Brandt Group
Today, the Brandt Group of Companies is comprised of Brandt Agricultural Products, Brandt Engineered Products, Brandt Equipment Solutions, Brandt Road Rail, Brandt Positioning Technology, Brandt Truck Rigging & Trailers, Brandt Finance, Brandt Developments Ltd., Brandt Road Technology, Brandt Mineral Technology and Brandt Tractor Ltd.
“We’re looking forward to putting down deep roots in these new markets.” Semple said. “We are a proudly Canadian company and are thrilled to be able to serve the industry in every province and territory. That is very satisfying.”