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Courtesy of ECA CanadaECA Canada builds on its history to provide specialized foundation equipment

By J. Lynn Fraser

ECA Canada’s specialization in foundation construction equipment rentals has deep, dual roots in the North American construction industry. In 1953, the company’s Canadian roots took hold when Special Construction Machines Ltd. (SCM) was established. SCM distinguished itself in the industry when it became the first Delmag diesel pile hammer dealer in North America. SCM’s product range now includes vibratory hammers, hydraulic drill rigs and tieback anchor/micropile rigs. In late 1999, the company was purchased by Equipment Corporation of America (ECA) and was renamed ECA Canada.

ECA’s roots reach back to 1918 when three Chicago-based companies amalgamated. The Chicago Builders Specialty Company, French & Allen and Marsh-Capron manufacturing became ECA, specializing in equipment rentals. Today, ECA’s operations are based in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Toronto, with sales offices in New Jersey, North Carolina and Indiana.

Marking territory
“ECA Canada’s territory for some of its product lines is across Canada, and for others it is from Ontario to the east coast. We represent world leading manufacturers of foundation construction equipment,” explained Ray Kemppainen, ECA Canada’s branch manager.

The company is a dealer for Bauer, Klemm, RTG, Fambo, MAT, Pileco, Betek, Dawson Construction Plant, HPSi, Berminghammer, WORD Drills International and KB International.

“Previously, the American market had larger ‘nationwide’ foundation contractors than Canada, while Canada typically has had smaller contractors that concentrated on their local markets, with only a few that worked nationwide. This has changed in Canada recently with purchases of Canadian foundation contractors by worldwide foundation companies,” said Kemppainen. He offers the example of North American Piling, which was recently purchased by Keller Foundations, a subsidiary of Keller Group Plc.

Recently, both ECA and ECA Canada attained Service Partner status with Bauer Maschinen, specialists in foundation engineering machinery, for all of their branches.

“To reach this status, ECA Canada and the other branches of ECA were each subject to an audit by Bauer Maschinen of their facilities, personnel, safety campaign, service department capabilities, parts inventory, etc. Achieving this status is further proof that ECA Canada and ECA are fully committed to providing their customers with the best service possible,” said Kemppainen.

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Uplifting experience
New to both ECA and ECA Canada is the introduction of a new line of Bauer Foundation Cranes.

“The first crane, a MC96, has already arrived in the U.S. at our Philadelphia branch with a lift capacity of 130 metric tons. This will open up a whole new market expansion for our company and at the same time, help our customers fill the existing void that currently exists in the heavy duty foundation crane market,” said Ben Dutton, ECA Canada’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Providing customer solutions is a primary focus of our mission and goals, and adding cranes to our repertoire helps us meet this challenge.”

Deep thinkers
“ECA and ECA Canada benefit from Bauer’s world-wide experience,” noted Kemppainen.

Bauer, based in Germany, is an engineering innovator. Their combined cutter and soil mixer saves both time and money. Their innovation also extends to areas such as underwater drilling. In 2011, Bauer Renewables Ltd. and Bauer Spezialtiefbau GmbH, the parent company, were part of a project to install monopile foundations for a tidal turbine off the coast of Scotland. Kemppainen notes that ECA and ECA Canada also benefit from their relationship with companies like Bauer and Klemm due to their global network of suppliers.

Home sweet home
ECA Canada is now putting down roots in Uxbridge, a township 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the City of Toronto. The company’s new facilities opened for business on Dec. 17, 2013. Their former location was based in the northern end of Toronto, where the company set up shop in 1958. Over time, the neighbourhood changed from an industry-friendly space into a retail and commercial environment.

“The logistics of getting large equipment to/from and in/out of our yard was becoming increasingly difficult. The facility itself couldn’t support the work we perform on the large drills; we were working outside in the yard most of the time,” said Kemppainen.

While ECA Canada’s home has moved, its heart is still in the company’s employees. Roy Kern, president of ECA Canada, has a long association with the company. His grandfather worked for ECA in the 1920s and later acquired controlling interest in the company. ECA Canada currently has a staff of 14 that handle sales, administration, service and parts.

Built by Pioneer One Steel Buildings and Rockwood General Contractors Ltd., the new 12,000-square foot (1,114.8 square metres) facility has a 2,000-square foot (185.81 square metres) space dedicated for parts as well as a heavy-duty floor built for extreme weight.

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“Our new location in Uxbridge Township was chosen because it is in an existing industrial park and the logistics of moving the equipment is much better,” explained Kemppainen. “We now have four acres of room to store equipment, tooling, casing and related accessories. Our workshop can accommodate working on the large equipment inside, complete with a new 25-ton overhead crane.”

Being located in Uxbridge also means that employee commute times are shorter.

“Our employees no longer have to deal with the stress of Toronto’s infamous traffic, and that has been very beneficial to [us all]!” added Kemppainen.

ECA Canada’s new facility will enhance the company’s ability to provide its diverse services, such as rentals, sales, service, parts, tooling and supplies for their line of heavy foundation construction equipment.

“[The range of products includes] everything from equipment for drilled piles, driven piles, vibrated piles, displacement piles, CFA piles, tie-back anchors, micropiles, high pressure grouting, foundation cranes, hydraulic grabs, cutters, soil mixers and cutter soil mixers,” Kemppainen said. “We also can provide the latest in foundation construction methods and technologies. With the combined resources of our American branches and manufacturers to draw upon, we have many, many years of experience in the foundation construction equipment business, and a large rental fleet to offer to our customers.”

Building momentum
The Canadian market, according to Kemppainen, “was strong in 2011 and 2012. They were record years for ECA Canada. [In contrast,] 2013 was a little slower but still steady. With some major projects still on the go or on the horizon, such as the TTC Eglinton LRT, the proposed TTC Scarborough subway expansion, some major work required in Montreal and continuing work in Western Canada, we’re looking forward to another great year in 2014 and beyond. Our Canadian foundation contractors are also starting to embrace the newer foundation methods and technologies that we can provide, thereby expanding their repertoire.”

Not resting on any laurels, ECA Canada is looking to add more feathers in their cap with plans for the future.

“Markets we are looking at in the future include developing new foundation construction methods and technologies and introducing them to the market in Canada,” said Kemppainen. “Bauer, for example, is foremost in developing these new methods and equipment to perform these new methods. While the tried and true methods are still widely used in Canada and work well, some of the new processes can save our customers time and money and still achieve a better product in the end. We want the industry in Canada to become one of the world leaders, not followers.”

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.