MacLean Engineering

A legacy of service and support

Founded in 1973, MacLean Engineering still operates under the careful eye of owner and founder Don MacLean, whose passion for mining engineering has lent itself to the steady growth of one of Canada’s leading equipment development companies.

Since its beginning, MacLean Engineering has continued to enhance its products through innovation and steadfast service, by offering the underground mining market Ground Support Installation Rigs, Ore Flow Facilitation Rigs, Production Drilling Rigs, Underground Utility Trucks as well as Carriers for other OEM mining equipment suppliers.

Founder, Don MacLean, is still actively involved with guiding the growth of the company and has instilled important values in his team and a mandate to deliver the best overall machine safety, reliability and productivity. To this day, the people at MacLean Engineering maintain the company’s solid reputation and carry on a tradition of first-class service and support.

Service and support

Throughout the years, MacLean Engineering’s host of products has grown alongside the MacLean Customer Support Group, with branches starting up all over Canada. The operating facilities began in Sudbury, Ontario, Thompson, Manitoba, and Phalaborwa, South Africa—all located in areas where MacLean experts can provide expedient support.

Service and support are key terms for MacLean Engineering and are the pillars of the business. Alicia Woods, National Sales Director says that “service and support represent two critical aspects for the company”.

“Obviously, we want to service and support our customers and take care of them—making sure the equipment they need is available, but also, these terms talk to the types of products we design and manufacture. We develop service vehicles and ground support—and support the end-to-end management of the development and service process. If there is a customer looking for a specific fleet of gear, we will be there to make recommendations to support them,” she continues.

Diversifying in the nick of time

Though MacLean Engineering was originally focused on the Canadian market, the focus has grown internationally.

“We started expanding outside Canada to include markets in South America, South Africa, Australia, Mexico,” Woods says. “Don [MacLean] didn’t want to have all his eggs in one basket, so to speak. So in addition to more branches in Canada, we launched in other countries. We also diversified our product offering,” she adds. The company started building municipal vehicles, including salt and sand spreaders.

In 2008, MacLean entered a new business segment that included this diversification. They launched a new product at this time: the MacLean MV, an articulating tractor designed to carry a large variety of attachments for multi-functional purposes in the commercial and municipal sectors. The MV uses a wide range of snow removal attachments in the winter months, then in warmer weather converts into a vehicle capable of taking care of ground and road maintenance applications.

It was through diversification and staying adaptable that MacLean was able to weather the storm of the 2008 global financial crisis. Expanding into other countries and getting closer to the customers in Canada enabled them to think on their feet.

“There were challenges,” Woods explains, “but what kept us going was our global expansion, our Latin American business represented 40 per cent of our overall business during that time, so we were able to succeed.”

“Yes, there were layoffs, but we did manage to pull through it because of the growth we had outside of North America,” Woods continues.

The year 2008 was a pivotal one for MacLean Engineering. That year, the company acquired attachment designer and manufacturer Kanlan Attachments. According to a company statement: “This acquisition was made in support of the extremely versatile MacLean MV and [provides] a comprehensive range of attachments that will make the MacLean MV a machine for all seasons.” Indeed, Kanlan has a reputation for producing innovative products—a strength that aligns with MacLean’s strategy to innovate continuously. According to the company, Kanlan will be working with design and manufacturing teams to further enhance products.

Innovation is king

Though MacLean has come to be known as a manufacturer of ground support equipment, changing the way the mining industry approached roof bolting with the introduction of the MacLean Series 900 Scissor Bolters, the company maintains its focus on innovation, making sure to stay on the leading edge of equipment design and manufacturing.  New additions to the MacLean Ground Support product line-up are the SSB Small Section Bolter and the SS-3 Shotcrete Sprayer (currently in development is the SS-2 Small Section Shotcrete Sprayer).

Of course, innovation means not just expanding existing product lines but coming up with completely new products.  Woods says that a new machine for the potash industry is “where it’s at” for MacLean – a growing industry with a stronghold in regions where MacLean is expanding. “We’re concentrating on developing products for the potash industry. We’re introducing a potash-specific carrier. We’ve worked with the industry—toured mine sites in Saskatchewan to get their feedback, and gathered info on what we could do for them—because there is simply nothing out there currently.”

When developing this machine, true to MacLean’s mandate, it took into consideration speed, operator comfort and safety. Innovation is paramount in all facets of manufacturing with MacLean, Woods reiterates. “One of the things MacLean brings to the table is design and customized machinery and equipment. We use our own in-house engineering group who have been underground and we assure that the needs of the industry are fully understood.”

The other benefit, according to Woods, is that MacLean has “full control over manufacturing processes.”

For the future

Future plans at MacLean include aggressively setting up more branches around customers, as well as developing more equipment, specific to different industries. Of course, all MacLean designs ensure that safety is No. 1.

Woods says that a unique factor of MacLean Engineering has always been the company’s culture. “Doors always open for employees. Don MacLean really has passed down his passion for mining technology and engineering and it shows through our service and support,” she comments.

Surely, with this commitment to superior service and support—a passion for innovation and technical excellence—Don MacLean’s legacy will carry on well into the future of the company in Canada, and beyond.