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Mine utility vehicle maker finds its niche.

North Bay's R.A. Warren Equipment Ltd. has found its niche.

R.A. Warren was founded in 1957 as an industrial supplies service company and later became known as a supplier of remanufactured equipment. The company's focus was changed in 1978 when the new owner, Harry Bursey, began the process of transforming R.A. Warren into a manufacturing and distribution operation.

The focus has been to "develop a niche that nobody else seemed to be filling," says Bursey.

Last fall the company received substantial government assistance to develop the prototype of an underground utility vehicle which could fit in a standard 12-foot mine cage.

The utility vehicle, which can be used to carry first-aid or surveying equipment and even a small crane for changing tires, has a hydrostatic transmission and braking system.

The vehicle's cushion-ride suspension and 12-foot turning radius are designed specifically for underground operation.

Bursey will be displaying the vehicle in trade shows in Ontario and Quebec, as well as testing it in several mines.

"It is a prototype, so from the mining people we will learn any modifications we should make here and there," he says.

The vehicle will cost between $40,000 and $50,000, depending on how it is equipped.

R.A. Warren received assistance in the initial stages of the project from Rick Evans, manager of the North Bay Economic Development Department, and Gary Elsey, a senior business consultant with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Employment and Immigration Canada's adjustment service program financed proposal preparation, while development money came from a $65,750 FedNor grant, a $16,495 industrial adjustment services grant, a $32,760 loan from the Nipissing East Business Development Centre and $16,495 from the company itself.

The project was aimed at preserving 10 existing jobs and creating four new positions. R.A. Warren employs 24 people.

While government assistance made the project possible, Bursey says it was the infrastructure of his company that made it work.

"Don't think that you are going to go out from your backyard garage, raise $150,000 and develop a new mousetrap for the mining industry," he says. "You've got to have a lot of other things."

Those other things include building space, welding equipment, tools, trained staff and expertise on which to draw.

Bursey says R.A. Warren had "about $2 million worth of corporate assets," to back up the utility vehicle project.

R.A. Warren has several additional development achievements to its credit.

For example, it has sent three, nine-metric-ton, battery-powered and remote-controlled locomotives for tandem application to Inco's Birch Tree Mine in Thompson, Man. for use at the 2,100-foot haulage level.

The two-year project for Inco started the company into the development of additional hydraulic locomotive systems.

In November the company introduced a 15-ton, hydrostatic-drive Trojan 2000 locomotive which was developed to Noranda Mines' specifications. R.A. Warren hopes to market this product world wide.

Another recently completed project is a vehicle designed to carry delicate instruments for use at the underground Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

R.A. Warren is also a manufacturer of replacement parts for such mining-related equipment as overhead loaders, slusher hoists, air tuggers, locomotives and centrifugal pumps. Some of its products are also sold to the pulp and paper, construction and chemical industries, and the company has agents or distributors in more than 30 countries.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:North Bay Report; R.A. Warren Equipment Ltd.
Author:Smith, Marjie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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