Published On: Wednesday, 08 August 2018
Northside Industries Inc. Always Expanding Product Line
KELOWNA – Resiliency is defined as: the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Resiliency could also serve as one of the core strengths of West Kelowna’s Northside Industries Inc.
Founded more than 50 years ago, Northside Industries has through determined effort weathered economic hardship and corporate upheaval to emerge stronger, more diversified and more technologically advanced than ever, thanks to the vision and dedication of its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve McKay.
“There definitely was a shake-up in 2009 that could have spelled the end for the company when some of the members of the ownership group decided that this was the end, but Steve had confidence that we could still do something with the business. He stayed the course and as a result the company’s never been stronger,” explained Northside’s Operations Manager Rob Estok.
Founded in 1967 Northside Industries (originally known as Northside Steel Fabricators Ltd.) is a multi-tiered metal fabrication business serving clients in a variety of sectors, including oil and gas, forestry and mining. Northside also routinely produces sub assembly components for other firms including those in the truck and heavy equipment industry.
The company has produced an expansive range of products over the years including truck and automotive components, fuel-hydraulic fluid tanks, j-brackets and straps, bumpers, truck chassis components, cab panels, tanks, architectural components, tool and battery boxes, waste management components, steel under-decking and much more.
“Last year was an exciting year for us; as we not only celebrated our 50th year in business but we were able to cap it off with the Large Business of the Year Award through the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. We were able to share the 50th year in business milestone with our employees and their families as we held an event at the plant with food, entertainment and plant tours,” Estok explained.
Less than a decade ago no one expected the firm to reach its half century milestone when members of the firm’s ownership group wanted to shutter the company. But McKay and a solid core of believers in the first future of the enterprise held on, discovering new markets, introducing new products and re-energizing Northside Industries to meet the challenges and opportunities the new century provided it.
“It continues to be a time of growth for the company, we’re continually getting busier which is excellent news and we’re seeing our employee numbers gradually climb to the point where we have about 85 employees today. By bringing more work into the shop and by locating additional customers I’m very confident about the future of the company,” Estok said.
A full service metal fabrication firm, Northside Industries can provide its expanding client base with an expansive range of services, from concept right through to finished product. Northside’s service include all aspects of product design, metal cutting and forming, welding and fabrication services, to the final coating, finishing, assembly and installation of all of its products.
“We are a fully capable metal fabrication facility where we regularly deal with materials such steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. We have a variety of equipment on-site where we can cut, form, weld and powder coat as needed. Aside from the steel fabrications we specialize in, we also offer a wide range of fuel and hydraulic tanks for the Class 8 and oil and gas industries,” Estok said.
Working from its 60,000 square foot production facility at 1400 Industrial Road in West Kelowna, Northside regularly works with customers from an equally diverse range of industries, from the oil and gas sector to the military, agriculture and the forest industry.
A state of the art facility equipped with the latest technology such as laser cutters, waterjets and powder coating capabilities, Northside has also become an industry leader through the skills and expertise of its staff. “We have a great group of folks at Northside who remain positive and motivated despite the stresses manufacturing can at times present,” he said.
A partial list of the major companies Northside Industries provides sub assembly work for includes industry giants such as John Deere and Daimler among other industry leaders. While capable of handling smaller scale design and fabrication tasks the core of the firm’s production is devoted to its expanding range of commercial and industrial clients.
“I would say that those sectors provide the bulk of our work, but if something was to come in and it made sense we’d probably do it. We do deal with smaller individual customers as well, so we don’t work exclusively with major companies,” Estok said.
Part of the firm’s successful ongoing corporate re-imagining has involved the development of new product lines and the cultivation of fresh markets for its skills and technologies. One of its most successful recent additions to Northside’s product line is its production of the innovative Hydrau-Flo® valve system, a fast-fill fueling system for commercial fleet owners.
The Hydrau-Flo® system is an after-market add-on for users of heavy equipment that consists of specialized valves and plumbing that can provide faster fuelling rates that improve overall efficiencies for the operator while delivering safer and cleaner re-fuelling options.
“In some cases we have provided a solution where a customer can fill at a rate five times faster compared to their standard process, which drastically reduced down-time and increased daily throughput. Our largest systems allow fuel filling rates up to 1,500 litres per minute! We are quite excited to see this part of the business gain momentum and allow us to add diversity to our current offerings,” Estok explained.
Another key part of Northside Industries Renaissance is its introduction of the IronFeather™ line of products for the commercial trucking industry. IronFeather™ is an extended cab system that provides extra flexibility and expandability to Class 8 Western Star trucks. As with the Hydrau-Flo® system, IronFeather™ can be adapted during the manufacturing stage of a new vehicle or it can be installed as an after-market addition to an existing vehicle.
“We have several sizes and options available that span smaller 12” storage cabs to larger 36” sleeper cabs. The lightweight design integrates with the cab of the truck and offers customization to suit a wide range customer needs,” he said.
IronFeather’s socket mounting system takes advantage of existing cutaway offerings. IronFeather™ units mounted to Western Star cutaway cabs are fully integrated with the cab structure for maximum durability and functionality. The NSI IronFeather™ line is so customizable that it can be configured to the needs of a wide range of potential customers.
The system offers multiple space expanding solutions ranging from 12” to 36”. In addition to added space, IronFeather™ also offers its users with a rest cab sleepers and three-person crew bench seating complete with certified seat belts.
Despite the range of the products and services provided by Northside the firm’s present facility is considered more than adequate to keep up with the company’s current production demands. “No physical expansion is needed right now. We do run several shifts a day in certain areas but there is certainly capacity to further man-up those shifts as needed,” he said.
Serving clients across Western Canada for more than half a century, Northside Industries has endured a potentially disastrous corporate shake up and has emerged as an award winning provider of some of the most innovative and sought after products in the commercial marketplace.
“Since 2009 the business has evolved and grown to the level it has today, despite the challenges which is something we’re very proud of. Capping off our 50th anniversary last year by winning the Large Business of the Year Award was especially satisfying and a great accomplishment for everyone here at the plant,” he said.
For the future Estok anticipates continued growth as it adds staff, technologies and distinctive products. “We’re much more than a welding shop. Northside is constantly gaining additional assignments through our existing customers in addition to quoting on projects from new clients,” he said.
He also maintains that the key to the firm’s future, aside from its innate resiliency and ability to identify and properly service new markets, rests with the skills and dedication of its employees.