Wednesday, January 20, 2021Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Equipment Sales & Service Ltd.


As one of the oldest and well established equipment companies in Canada, Equipment Sales & Service Ltd. (ESS) has been keeping Canada’s heavy equipment up and running for more than 60 years. ESS provides parts, service and equipment, maximizing equipment’s uptime and productivity for customers in construction, demolition, road building, mining, aggregates, forestry and other industries. Equipment Sales & Service Ltd. has been recently acknowledged by winning one of “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” award for two consecutive years (2011 and 2012).

ESS is one of Canada’s largest suppliers of aftermarket equipment parts, and an authorized dealer for some of today’s most respected heavy equipment brands. ESS also takes pride in being an experienced specialist in equipment repair services. While ESS always focuses on heavy equipment, the company’s business model varies from province to province, adjusting the model according to the local needs and opportunities.

“Bill Willis started the company in 1946 as an equipment distributor. The company has grown substantially, and his sons Michael and Peter took over and have continued to expand across the country,” says Jodie Willis, Communications Manager at ESS, and he added, “Today, we have different territories for different products. We sell Link-Belt cranes, and Komatsu equipment in Ontario. Our next largest operation is in Edmonton, where we serve as a dealer for Link-Belt cranes and excavators.”

This private family-owned company is seeing the family’s third generation enter the business. Its success comes with the flexibility to respond to customer needs quickly, and to keep pace with rapidly changing industry demands, while delivering a high standard of service, lingering on the everlasting values of hard work, integrity and responsibility, with the mission, “to provide our customers with value added solutions in the most expedient manner possible.”  

ESS is a national service provider, supporting machinery of all makes and all models with factory-trained service technicians paired with one of Canada’s largest inventory of OEM, wear parts and aftermarket parts. In Ontario, ESS distributes a full line of Komatsu as well as a full range of Link-Belt Crane products.

Another main location for ESS is Edmonton, where the company provides equipment and parts from a full range of original equipment manufacturers including Link-Belt Cranes, Link-Belt Excavators and Broderson Cranes; the company’s Quebec ESStrac facility and its Vancouver operation provide the best in aftermarket parts and undercarriage service in their respective regions.

“Our true success is in the fact that we are a one stop shop solution. We sell original equipment such as Komatsu and Link-Belt, we provide service for this equipment, but we also provide aftermarket parts for all heavy equipment, whether it’s Cat, Hitachi, Deere, Volvo … you name it. The competition does not do that as they focus on pushing their own OEM equipment,” says Willis.

“In regard to original equipment, our philosophy is very simple — to sell the top of the line equipment, focusing on quality rather than price, knowing in the end that quality always prevails in heavy duty machinery. This has been challenged in the industry by new manufacturers coming into the marketplace from countries like China and Korea. Equipment from emerging economies originally did not meet the North American machinery standards but slowly these manufacturers are catching up and thus the competition has really geared up, challenging the established companies such as Komatsu. Komatsu has been building equipment since 1921 and is one of the global leaders. Komatsu has always been a leader in technology and innovation, current examples of this is: Komtrax – a satellite based machine monitoring system which comes standard with any new Komatsu machinery, allowing owners to gather detailed real-time information about the status of their equipment. Another excellent example of leadership from Komatsu is the introduction of Tier 4 emission compliant engines, years before the legislated mandated deadlines. This makes our business difficult in some ways, but we are able to compete effectively and successfully with this increasing competition.” 

Besides being a flexible business with a one stop shop offering, the company sales force represents additional strength when it comes to building relationships with the customers and grow ESS’s client database. ESS is also a member of many local associations including Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA), Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association (OHMPA), Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA), Crane Rental Association of Ontario (CRAO), and Crane Rental Association of Canada (CRAC). These memberships also support ESS’s efforts to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to industry networking, regulation and the latest trends and market developments occurring in these industry segments.

As to the economic cycles, Willis provided a very pragmatic view of the industry. “You need equipment to go into business, and you need equipment to stay in business. While the economic slowdown did impact us, we have rebounded because heavy equipment is always needed. For example, when the economy turned in 2008, the government took over the spending, focusing on major infrastructure projects. The old infrastructures that are in place from the 1950s and the 1960s now desperately need to be upgraded; the new transit corridors for the GTA and Southern Ontario are underway. So the business is always about shifting between private and public sectors.”

The company continues to grow organically, taking on opportunities as they present themselves. “Yes we expand when we can, but we are also cautious not to expand too quickly. We grow with the business. We are always looking for a new potential product for distribution, but we also honour our commitments with our existing partners,” concluded Willis.