"In my experience, the mining world feels interconnected, and Sudbury serves as a focal point."

Tom Di Francesco

GENERAL MANAGER, B&D MANUFACTURING

February 01, 2024

Can you provide an overview of B&D Manufacturing's history and its role in the mining industry?

B&D Manufacturing, founded in 1980, has played a pivotal role in the surface and underground mining markets for over four decades. We contribute significantly to the surface mining sector, producing safety maintenance tools for industry giants like Caterpillar, Komatsu, Liebherr, Epiroc, MacLean and Sandvik. Notably, innovations like our remote-control EJ200 jack for lifting 400-ton trucks and the multi-handler for versatile component removal of mining haul trucks underscore our commitment to safety and productivity. Additionally, our range includes work platforms for both surface and underground equipment, exemplified by rear access platforms and fabricated aluminum products like wheel chocks and ramps—all engineered for stringent safety standards. The ongoing pursuit of innovative solutions, such as a remote-controlled belly pan removal tool, reflects our dedication to enhancing efficiency and safety in the mining industry.

Have you noticed any trends in the demand for your services and products, particularly given the focus on underground mining in Sudbury? 

Presently, we find ourselves in an exceptionally prosperous phase, with no apparent end in sight. Short of catastrophic black swan events, mining seems remarkably resilient to global disruptions, maintaining its status as an indispensable industry.

Demand for our machining services has surged because of strategic investments in cutting-edge technology and equipment, including two boring mills and five-axis CNC machines. Our emphasis on bolstering fabrication capabilities, especially in aluminum welding, has significantly enhanced speed and efficiency. As the upward trend continues, we have directed capital expenditure over the past five years to meet the escalating demand.

It is crucial to highlight that our sales extend beyond direct transactions; we operate through an extensive dealer network covering both Canadian and global markets. 

Can you provide insights into Sudbury's mining ecosystem and its evolution over the years?

Sudbury is a hidden gem. The city boasts a robust economy, among the strongest in the province, with a thriving industrial sector. In my experience, the mining world feels interconnected, and Sudbury serves as a focal point. Many individuals we encounter, whether through dealers or direct contact, are familiar with B&D Manufacturing or have used our products during their time in the Sudbury market. It is fascinating to see these connections extend globally, with former Sudbury workers now in mines across Peru, Chile, Colombia or Mexico. Sudbury maintains a high quality of life, surrounded by about 300 lakes within the city limits. The city has taken positive steps to make Sudbury an enjoyable place to live, resulting in a growing community and a robust real estate market.

What are the main challenges you have faced recently?

Inflation is a significant concern for us, leading to major price increases in raw materials and components over the past 18 months. We have witnessed extended lead times, with some vendors going from 14-week to 48-week delivery. To manage this, we maintain a substantial inventory to meet customer demand. Despite these challenges, B&D Manufacturing is fortunate to be debt-free, relying on our own capital for funding. While the supply chain issues persist, we are proactive in aligning wages with competitors and addressing employee needs, implementing measures like regular wage reviews. 

Can you share B&D Manufacturing's plans for the coming years? 

We are focusing on investing in new technologies like robotic welding. Currently, space constraints are a challenge due to the exponential growth in our machine shop business and fabrication demands. Our next move will likely involve expanding our facility, likely in the next two years. Over the past five years, we have shifted from 70% custom work to 70% B&D products. We anticipate further growth in global demand for our own products. Our goal is to eventually become purely a manufacturer, with 100% of our products sold through distributors.

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