Companies who add asphalt production to their product offering cite many reasons for doing so. These include a need to better serve their customers, a desire to expand their list of capabilities, dissatisfaction with bottlenecks caused by supplier delays, and more. For Hoban Equipment Limited (HEL) the decision to do so was based on a natural progression of events; the company was growing, new needs were arising and it saw a real niche that could be established.
That strategy has proven sound as HEL wraps up its first season as an asphalt producer, made possible with the addition of a 250-tph plant from Asphalt Drum Mixers (ADM). In that inaugural season, they’ve not only played a key role in paving a large section of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) in Saskatchewan, they’ve also taken their business to a whole new level.
Growing the business
Established in 1966 and headquartered in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, HEL has built a solid reputation throughout the region for its expertise in road and subdivision construction, mine and landfill reclamation, and work with wildlife sites.
In addition, the company has supplied both its own and other operations through the operation of ready-mix plants and the aggregate sites used in support of those plants. According to project manager, Mike Tiffin, making a move to add asphalt simply made sense.
“Years ago, the organization had done some asphalt paving, but it was a very small part of their business,” he says. “In recent years, any asphalt work needed for our projects was subcontracted out. This resulted in schedule delays, bonus payments to subcontractors and overall less control of our projects.
“When a decision was made to grow the business, having that asphalt capability was almost a given,” he continues. “Our management was well aware of what can happen when you don’t have access to a reliable supply of material — at a price that can be controlled. Our president, Clayton Hoban, did a fair amount of research before choosing ADM to supply the plant. We took delivery in early 2012 and were up and running by early July 2012.”
Taking it on the road
Because they were looking to gain market share in areas outside the province of British Columbia, HEL chose an EX8842 which, packs 250-tph production into a portable plant.
“Management was looking for HEL to expand far beyond their existing range of operations and capture as many key growth markets as they could,” says Tiffin. “To do so, and ensure that a supply of asphalt would not be an issue for any HEL client, regardless of where the projects are located, management knew that a portable asphalt plant would be the only way to go.”
Hoban’s rationale for looking eastward toward Saskatchewan was a sound one. The province is rich in resources such as coal, oil, natural gas and potash, and until recently, had maintained controls which discouraged capitalizing upon these natural gifts. A new progressive government has opened up those resources, resulting in an influx of cash into the province.
“As a result, after decades of shying away from much-needed investment in highway infrastructure, the provincial government is finally starting to make upgrades in those areas,” says Tiffin. “We recently landed the bid to repave 17 km of the eastbound Trans Canada Highway east of Regina, a nice contract that we were able to competitively bid, largely because we had a handle on asphalt supply and costs.
“That portable plant made an immediate impact and should continue to do so given our current backlog and the amount of work that’s now being tendered,” he says.
Good from the start
Setup can often be a sticking point in any move to a new plant, with everything from planning on delivery to the actual erection coming into play. According to Tiffin, they were impressed with ADM’s handling of the entire plant set-up process.