Axiom channels experience into equipment manufacturing
The company used feedback from customers to craft its products.
Axiom’s team poses in front of some of their products. – Axiom
There’s no substitute for experience.
Years of renting and selling equipment gave Axiom Equipment Group a huge leg up when it decided to manufacture its own brand of equipment.
Randy Gay, general manager for Axiom, got his start at a small, family-owned contracting company that had equipment. Around 2010 they decided to start Axiom Lift Equipment to rent and sell scissor and boom lifts. That continued until late 2017 when they merged with Saskarc Equipment Group to form Axiom Equipment Group.
Randy explained that Saskarc, a steel fabrication company, ended up getting into equipment as it was needed on the sites they were fabricating for. They started Saskarc equipment in 2012 which retained light towers, generators, air compressors and more.
Randy explained that the acquisition strategy was to add different types of equipment to the fleet and diversify the product range.
One of the initial major projects Axiom helped out with was the Keeyask Hydro Dam in Manitoba. The team rented lots of equipment to projects near Kitimat in B.C. and elsewhere in the west.
“We are based in Oxbow, Saskatchewan, basically in the middle of nowhere, so those remote, Western Canadian projects were kind of the speciality,” said Randy.
The company took a major turn when they began to investigate the possibility of manufacturing their own line of equipment to sell. In 2019, Axiom’s team went to the Bauma equipment show in Germany to take the next step.
“We connected with some manufacturers in Europe that were building products and we partnered with those companies to build a generator and light tower based on our specs,” said Randy. “We started developing the products and building relationships with manufacturers.”
He explained that Axiom’s years of dealing with rental customers was invaluable in the manufacturing process.
“Being a rental company, we kind of knew what all the competitors were building, what was good, what was bad. We took all the good ideas, put it into a prototype,” he said. “We towed those units around Western Canada and visited all of our customers.”
The team asked them for their thoughts, incorporated those changes and then in 2021 they started sending production models out into the field.
“Having that knowledge probably saved us years of time,” said Randy. “We are still improving and changing and that’s even with knowing what we know from ten years of rental experience. If we didn’t have that we would be years behind.”
One major factor that Axiom didn’t count on was the COVID-19 pandemic. Shipments of product experienced some delays so the team pivoted.
“We recognized that this was a problem and we tried to be proactive,” said Randy. “We stuck our necks out a little bit and in 2021 we ordered all the product for 2022. It was a risk but it definitely has paid off and we are pretty much continuing to do that every year now.”
The company has since quadrupled in size and continues to refine its equipment. Randy believes that in addition to the company’s previous rental experience, another major factor in Axiom’s success is customer service.
“Customer service has been something we have done since day one,” said Randy. “When you are in the rental business you have to react pretty fast to customer issues and concerns. The second thing is we have taken all that experience to understand what goes wrong, what the biggest pain points are for customers in the field, and we have tried to solve those and put that into our machines.”
The company is also part of the industry shift towards more sustainable practices. They have developed an electric light tower, a hybrid light tower (diesel engine but also has solar/battery), and also have some technology on their generators that lets customers store power.
Randy noted that Axiom is also looking at expanding.
“From a territory point of view, we are trying to solidify our market share in Canada,” he said. “I think we have done a pretty good job of that these past few years. Then we will be looking at going down south.”