St. Thomas-based ARVA Industries lands US$2 million deal for track utility vehicle


Article written by Jennifer Bieman, St. Thomas Times-Journal, Friday, October 2, 2015

St. Thomas-based Arva Industries Inc. has landed a contract as large as the machines it builds – a US$2 million deal with the Delaware River Port Authority in Camden, N.J. to design and assemble a track utility vehicle for rail maintenance.

If you don’t know what that is, that’s okay, they are not the kind of vehicle you’d find cruising around the city. The diesel-powered maintenance vehicles have interchangeable attachments to clean up rail tracks that get obscured with debris, snow and dirt.

“We’re building a vehicle that blows the leaves off, blows the snow off and cleans the track,” said Paul Smith, general manager of Arva Industries. “The leaves actually can ruin the traction of the train. The leaves actually leave a film of oil on the track.”

At about 18 metres long, three meters wide and over 54,000 kilograms, Arva’s machines mean serious business. Arva Industries’ bid beat out five other US companies for the contract, something Smith said was not just pure happenstance.

“The answer we got was we’re the only ones that gave them what they wanted,” he said. “Our feeling is that we’re technically advanced over more people because we’re willing to put anything that our customer wants on the vehicle. It doesn’t seem that our competition is that versatile.”

And with the Delaware River Port Authority scheduled to take delivery of the mighty machine next August, Arva Industries’ 44 employees have their work cut out for them.

Though the company has made dozens of the track utility vehicles before, including several for the Toronto Transit Commission, this contract is particularly exciting for Arva Industries’ management team.

“We’re trying to get into the US market stronger. This is a big, significant contract,” said Smith. “We’re sticking to it now, we’re getting into it.”

But Arva Industries isn’t stopping with the states. The company has its sights set on contracts in Chile, Peru and Mexico and has even hired a Spanish-speaking staff member to assist with their multinational ambitions.

Over and above the company’s rail maintenance machines, Arva Industries also designs and manufactures vehicles used in the mining industry. Smith said the company has increased its overall sales by more than double this year and is expecting to grow into different markets and hire more employees in the future.

“I think there’s some great opportunities ahead,” he said.

To view the Times-Journal article, click here.