As the second largest country in the world behind only Russia, Canada is to say the least a large, vast place. With this in mind, for a business to build a level of recognition that is national in any country is an impressive feat in its own right, but for a company to do so over the 4,000 miles of Canada’s vastness, a land spanning six timezones, speaks for itself. This is what Lorneville Mechanical has achieved, and what’s more it has done so without losing the values and touch of magic that has seen it grow from the humblest of beginnings into an industrial construction player with a pan-Canadian reputation for excellence.
“We’re growing, so as far as industrial construction companies go, people are starting to hear our name in other provinces now. Canada is a large, vast country, but we’re already well-known in its maritime provinces,” explained Daniel Marr, Lorneville’s long-serving Supply Chain Manager. He continued: “This market is quite small, however, so we’re currently looking at how best to expand into other provinces too. It’s no secret that Alberta and Ontario are the economic powerhouses within Canada so for us coming from the smaller maritime-centric provinces to grow our brand, this is something that makes us quite proud to hear our name when people have heard from us across the country.
I would say we’re still that same small local brand from Saint John, New Brunswick – we’ve always operated here locally within the maritime provinces, which certainly gives us a regional footprint, but over these last two years we’ve really started to grow that national brand and this trend is going to continue. We’ve now completed projects in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, so there’s only a few provinces left to tick off. British Colombia, Saaskatchewan, and Manitoba are the only ones left. We’ll certainly get there but we’re very happy with where we’re going right now and how we’re trending, we’re really creating that national brand.
One adjective we like to use to explain ourselves as a company is the world ‘nimble.’ We’re really nimble in the fact that we still have that small company feel and the core employees that we started with,”. Nimble and agile Lorneville Mechanical might be, but they should also be used alongside the adjectives, capable and high capacity. Once a company that operated out of what Daniel described as a ‘sea can’ – a 40ft sea container that was home to the company’s inventory, work shop and office, today, Lorneville Mechanical now has multiple offices in its spiritual home of Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as in Ontario and Alberta. Where only 10-years ago, the company was still a small enough outfit that its employees could go out for lunch on a Friday and all sit at the same table, now it would need the entire restaurant.
With a touch of nostalgia, Daniel reflected on this, saying: “It’s my 10-year anniversary at Lorneville, and I like to tell the story that I came on as a fresh engineering graduate who hadn’t graduated a week prior! I’ve really watched the company grow over the last decade as its grown from a small company into what I’d call a mid-sized company on an national level. Our owners and leadership have the aspiration to keep the company growing until it becomes a true national player. We’re going from small, medium to large.
I see our company growing and I also see myself and my department growing we’ve really moved towards consolidating our inventory management team, our tooling centre, our asset centre, along with procurement, and I’ve absorbed those groups to create what we call ‘the supply chain group.’ We’re really transitioning in a way that can help take us to the next level, I think we’re making the right moves that companies that grow to our size normally do.Though the company celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, Lorneville remains a tight knit business through-and-through that remains under the ownership of the Dumouchel family, albeit now a second generation. Today, the company is led by brothers, Styve and Martin Dumouchel, who along with a long-serving core team of staff, many of whom have been at Lorneville since the beginning of their careers like Daniel, are spearheading its ongoing growth and development.
It is this ability to build and retain a core project management and executive team, along with other key staff, that has been the key to Lorneville’s success. Numbering over 70, this group of permanent, veteran employees can go out and take on multiple large-scale jobs in multiple provinces, which they execute at a very high level in terms of quality, safety, and product and service performance. This is reflected in the strong working relationships that Lorneville builds with the craft tradesmen, who more often than not have never worked for the company previously, and its ability to ensure that they deliver to its high-standards:
“It’s about getting that craft labour, the ones that actually turn the wrenches, onboard with the Lorneville culture and having that supervision team to convey that Lorneville culture all the way down in the most safe and efficient manner possible to give our customer the best product available,” Daniel believes. “To be able to be awarded a job, say in northern Alberta that starts in a couple of months, then mobilise a team to go up there and not a few short months later have a 300, 400, 500 workers onsite – that really sets us apart from our rivals.”
This blend of qualitative and quantitative capability makes for a winning formula. Be it a project to build and maintain a refinery or a hydro dam, or building paper mills and fertiliser plants, Lorneville has worked on and successfully completed various large-scale projects time and time again. In taking on a large-scale project, it is essential to be especially detail-centric – there can be no duplication of a previous job because there are never two jobs that are alike, even on a micro level. Every new job site is different and has its own unique feel and challenges, and it is down to the Lorneville team to grasp what they are and how to respond.
Daniel was very clear on this, stating: “From our core leadership to our engineers and project managers, along with our supply chain reach, we can understand what needs to be done for a potential new customer in a new industrial setting. They will assess how best to deliver the service a client needs that is tailored uniquely to them. In terms of our reputation, we’re known for delivering high quality results, and customers have confidence that we can deliver even on the toughest jobs. The solutions we provide are very detail-orientated and come with a high-level of customer care, which ties in with our ‘small company feel,’ and yet we have the capacity and expertise to deliver on large, challenging projects.”
This attention to deal also manifests and commitment to excellence naturally also manifests itself the company in its supply chain operations. Under Daniel’s watch, Lorneville’s supply chain function uses a centralised procurement model that is, as is to be expected, nimble. Daniel is a big proponent of getting his team’s boots out into the field and their hands dirty, so to speak, when a project is underway. Often, time is in short supply and 30 to 60-day turnarounds are not uncommon – in these instances, it is a matter of all hands-on deck.
Whilst Lorneville operates a centralised supply chain department as a whole, it is nimble enough to support projects with an all hands-on deck approach from the procurement function – that’s face-to-face, boots on the ground with the customer, with its suppliers. It would be easy to say no, let’s sit back and stay in a nice and cosy home office and say ‘we’ll support you from here,’ but that’s now how the company does business. Rather, Daniel and his team will find themselves based at a remote work site in a cold trailer so that they can be there, supporting and facilitating all supply chain activities on the front line. By being part of the project team and getting their hands dirty in this way, Daniel and his team have been able to utilise on-the-ground experiences to optimise the supply chain function further:
As an example, to make sure that supplies are continuously available onsite, there’s a couple of different systems that we’ve put in place in just the past couple of years. One major component into how we’re supporting projects is by implementing VMI – vendor managed inventories. So, we’ve worked with our close-knit suppliers, we’ve put projects out for tender on various suppliers managing such day-to-day purchase items, such that our procurement department can really hone-in-on the key tasks that support a project – the one offs that can’t be predicted.
We’ve really taken a lot of the communication chain out of the mix – we no longer have a cloakroom attendant willing to talk to a foreman who goes into the trailer who tells an admin person who then tells procurement that we’re out of gloves. Now, we’ve implemented these systems through technology and software and scanning that we will hit a minimum amount of something, the red lights go off, its automatically re-ordered through our system, and those gloves show up onsite the next day.
That takes away the onus and responsibility for those everyday items, the easy, predictable day-to-day items, and it alleviates the workload of the procurement team such that they can focus on sub-contractor contracts or the one-off type emergencies or rushes that really they should be focusing on in the first place. Instead of the easy stuff that can quite easily end up taking most of your time.”
So, what’s next for Lorneville? With the market buoyant and a healthy amount of available work within the country, these are exciting times. The maritime work in its homeland brought the company its first generation of work but moving into other provinces has opened many doors and created many new opportunities. There’s certainly no shortage of projects to bid on, and certainly Daniel is optimistic about what the future holds. He concluded:
“We’re diverse enough such that we’re working on nuclear power plants, we’re working on hydro dams, there’s a $30 million proposal for a windfarm right within an industrial park right here in New Brunswick. Where we once in the past might have been working on oil and gas pipelines now, who knows? Instead we could be putting up a windfarm in our own backyard in 2020. We have the talent and expertise and diversity such that we can be strategic with all large-scale industrial projects. We’re not pigeon-holed into just oil and gas.
We like to think of ourselves as the Mercedes-Benz of the industrial construction world – we’re not the cheapest upfront but our customers are guaranteed quality, safety and reliability and a finished project that will stand the test of time. Our customers remember this and come back to the Lorneville Mechanical brand.”