verything in Fort Garry Fire Truck’s new location gleams just like the finish on one of the trucks being constructed on the huge shop floor.
Fort Garry Fire Truck is Canada’s largest manufacturer of fire and emergency vehicles. It was originally part of Fort Garry Industries but company president Rick Suché bought the division about five years ago.
The company moved in late January from 2521 Inkster Blvd. to 53 Bergen Cutoff Road, part of a newly-developed section of Brookside Industrial Park West within the RM of Rosser. Suché said the 50,000-square -foot building is about 20% larger than its previous site. And with over eight acres, there is room to grow.
"This building gives us the flexibility to change when the market changes," Suché said.
"We’ve put in state-of-the-art equipment," he said. The company offers 23 vehicle models with 6,000 options.
The company’s skilled engineers, machinists, customer service staff and others involved in the creation of fire and emergency vehicles produce about 125 trucks a year. Suché said these trucks are sold around the world to customers as far away as China, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, but currently about 90% of customers are Canadian.
This has changed over the past decadem when 40% of Fort Garry’s customers were American. But the higher Canadian dollar, coupled with dwindling national, state and municipal funding for emergency vehicles in the U.S, has led to fewer sales south of the border.
Part of CentrePort, Fort Garry Fire Truck’s building is located close to Richardson International Airport, and Suché said this was an important consideration as many customers fly in to inspect the vehicles they have ordered.
In most cases, prospective buyers visit the company’s office to discuss their needs before work begins on their vehicles. They usually return for an inspection midway through assembly, then conclude their business with a final inspection. Fort Garry offers delivery and training as part of its sales agreements.
At this time of year, the company is working on repairs to trucks used for water and septic hauling in northern Canada, as they can be driven south on ice roads.
Another shop area is devoted to rubber manufacturing, one of the original business lines started by Fort Garry Industries in 1919. Here custom rubber tires for railway and mining vehicles are made, along with other special orders. The company is exploring processes using urethane and plastics.
A percentage of Fort Garry’s business involves repairing emergency vehicles as, like their American counterparts, Canadian first responder services are facing shrinking funding for equipment, but increasing demand. Suché said another change is in the design of the fire fighting vehicles, since most fire departments are called out less often for fires and more often for highway accidents or health emergencies.