Custom Products for Custom Problems
‘The right tool for the right job,’ as the saying goes, and when dealing with manufacturing and production on an industrial scale, it is imperative to find not just the right tool, but the perfect tool.
For nearly fifty years, Firing Industries has provided turnkey solutions from its Niagara-On-The-Lake headquarters to help companies make the highest-quality products for customers across Canada. Thanks to a highly diversified supplier and client base, the company is continuing its work while expanding into new areas.
We spoke with representatives of the family-owned-and-operated company in February of last year, detailing its considerable distribution sectors and offerings. Established in 1973 by eponymous founder Lars Firing, the firm has grown from a small bulk material handling company to include satellite offices across Eastern Canada (Montreal and Halifax) and beyond, including more recent expansion into Western Canadian markets.
Firing Industries has become one of the key distributors of processing equipment in the Canadian market, with an emphasis on machinery for processing dry bulk material. It also supplies the pharmaceutical, food processing, mineral, mining, plastics and chemical industries, among others. It takes considerable pride in its customer service and offers full support before, during and after product installation. Firing operates a tried-and-true method of client interaction. First contact is followed by a lengthy evaluation of a client’s specific needs to determine a custom solution. As the company then works with the client to solve these problems, its experienced staff will design, recommend, and arrange installation of any required systems. Firing will then produce detailed three-dimensional renderings of client facilities, which not only aid in design and fabrication but also allow the customer to preview their solution.
Among the many Firing suppliers are Jacob Tubing, Union Process, NDC, Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems, Piab, Auburn Systems, and Matcon IBC.
Buffalo, New York-based PVS Process Equipment – which provides equipment for manufacturing powder and bulk solid materials – is a recent addition to the company’s roster. With Firing’s help, PVS offers custom-engineered solutions to guarantee product quality and transportability with state-of-the-art bulk bag unloading systems, weighing and filling systems as well as conveying and filtration equipment.
Other examples of Firing’s turnkey solutions include a horizontal silo made to fit in a client’s indoor facility, with sixteen compartments; mezzanines, five gravimetric feeders, dust collection machinery, and seven silos for a plant; and separate machines able to combine multiple components (or ingredients) into a single pellet, leaving no dust and making it much easier to transport, for a cat litter production facility. The team’s experience in equipment distribution has given them the connections to deliver the components that ensure product success.
The company’s product lines satisfy clients of all types. For granulated products, it offers Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems, popularly used in the mineral, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, plastic, and food industries. Brands such as Alpine, Stott, MAJSx, and Vrieco-Nauta currently use Hosokawa equipment.
Clients in need of food processing equipment may be set up with one of Piab’s vacuum conveyors, which operate as a closed system to keep dust and contaminants at bay while increasing the safety standards of the client’s plant. The company’s clients are also able to improve upon their plants’ safety and production with the help of Auburn Particle Detection Systems. The Firing team can determine the right kind of particle detection system for any client’s needs.
The company’s additional North Star Engineering Products’ centrifuges can also separate particles down to one micron, remove solids from cooking oils, or process fresh cut vegetables at a rate of 600 pounds (270 kilograms) per hour.
One of Firing’s most prominent advantages is that many of its products work in a sequential process, whether it be conveying, metering, blending, grinding, drying… This gives prospective clients a comprehensive offering of equipment, together with the ability to assist in overall planning. This draws unique inquiries from manufacturer-principals.
As part of its ongoing growth, the company has recently added an in-house engineering department to improve product development and delivery. This, Dubuc explains, helps Firing act upon its driving philosophy. “We’re lean and mean,” he states succinctly. The company supplies a wide variety of market segments, and its extensive array of fabrication and manufacturing equipment means it can make wide-ranging proposals and turnkey solutions for clients in myriad fields. Additionally, a large cadre of subcontractors can draft and manufacture components that are not easily created in-house.
Amazingly, Firing has been largely unaffected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, due to the company’s large supplier and client base. “Because there’s a diverse product line, there’s never a lack of new opportunities,” Dubuc says, noting that while some clients slowed orders, others actually increased; orders from the food service industry and food-related technology in particular have significantly jumped.
The company is in the midst of expansion in its Ontario and Quebec offices and hopes to finish by the end of this year. When the pandemic hit, Firing was able to easily transition to remote work in order to keep staff safe. The company remained open for business, with equipment and spare parts sales, engineering, and professional development, although, like everywhere, there were some supply chain slow downs. “The key was to keep staff on board one hundred percent,” he remarks. “It was time well used.”
But time waits for no business, and staff will inevitably age out of the workforce. So, while the company retains its small but highly skilled force, it has transition plans in place and replacements lined up at least two years before workers retire. Due to small staff numbers, it accepts only the most driven and multitalented employees to fill its ranks. Emphasis is placed on engineering skills and sales experience, but particularly the ability to work independently. “It’s a discipline that not many people have,” Dubuc says.
Yet despite Firing’s ability to flourish throughout the pandemic, Dubuc is cautious. He, like many other business leaders, is maintaining a wait-and-see attitude. “It’s difficult to hire people right now,” he explains, “so we’ll have to operate with our existing staff for the next few months.”
Regardless, the company intends to keep up its obligations and has been a regular presenter at the Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo (ADM), held in cities across Canada including Montreal and Toronto. The current exhibition, postponed, will still feature a strong appearance from Firing.
The company is working on further expansion into Western Canada, and Dubuc and his colleagues are now seeing accelerated growth in that part of the country. As Firing looks to the future, it remains confident in its suppliers and diversified product portfolio to keep growth steady.