ARVA Industries of St. Thomas has landed the single largest order in its history, a $12 million contract


Article by Jennifer Bieman, St. Thomas Times-Journal, Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The St. Thomas-based mining and rail equipment manufacturer has landed the single largest order in its history, a $12 million contract to build a highly-specialized vehicle destined for Saskatchewan’s potash mines.

The multi-million dollar machine, called a scaler, has a versatile cutting head used to grind and smooth the sides of mining tunnels. Arva Industries beat out 13 other companies to land the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan deal.

“We had a lot of competitors and a lot of people fought pretty hard for this project,” said Paul Smith, general manager of Arva Industries Inc.

“We offered them a smaller machine that had just the same capacity as bigger ones. It’s an innovation.”

The diesel-powered vehicle will be about 6.5 metres long and two metres tall once it is built. And with a completion date set for October 2016, the 50-person team at Arva Industries has their work cut out for them in the new year.

Arva primarily deals in vehicles you might go your whole life without seeing. Some of the mighty machines it manufactures end up deep underground working in mines. Other Arva Industries creations keep commuters on track, repairing and cleaning the transit rail lines they depend on.

No matter the project, Smith said Arva Industries offers something larger multinational corporations simply cannot.

“We’re smaller and more versatile . . . We consider ourselves an engineering solutions company,” he stressed.

“A lot of companies that compete with us, they say ‘This is what we build, and this is what you should take.’ What we say is ‘What do you want and we’ll build it for you.’”

So when Smith found the Toronto Transit Commission was in the market for a vacuum car to clean its subway lines, he jumped at the opportunity to bid on the contract – even though they’ve never built one before.

Arva Industries landed the $4.9 million deal in September and will be building the 20-metre long car at its St. Thomas facility over the next 18 months. Though much of the vehicle’s parts will be sourced from Southwestern Ontario, the company’s engineers will import its vacuum attachment from Hanover, Germany.

The local manufacturer will also be building two crane cars for the TTC in the new year. When a rail is damaged or needs to be replaced, workers use mobile cranes to lift the track. The two contracts, valued between $800,000 and $900,000 each, add to the more than 80 machines Arva Industries has built for the transit corporation in the last 20 years.

With many large contracts on the horizon, Smith said the company is looking to hire five or six people, specifically engineers and skilled labour.

“We’re really busy. We’re doing quite a bit more sales than we were in the past,” he said.

“We’ve got some very good prospects for new orders. Things are looking good.”

To view the article in the St. Thomas Times-Journal, click here.

To view the article in the London Free Press, click here.