Home Month and Year January 2023 How to Lift Up a New Vision

How to Lift Up a New Vision

Liftboss took a daring concept into reality, and positively impacted the Canadian industry

Andre Gagnon, President and Dale Beatty, VP, liftboss. Photo source: production world.

Liftboss Materials Handling does not just sell or rent equipment. They provide an experience unlike any other. It starts with the new state-of-the art showroom, which is the first of its kind and unlike any other equipment dealer’s showroom in the city. It continues with knowledgeable, friendly sales and service. It includes an on-site demo track where the products can be given a test run by potential buyers. No aspect has been overlooked in this experience, from the location of the facility to the ability to track and remotely monitor the health of each piece sold. In just 17 short years, the founders have taken Liftboss from concept to reality – and beyond.

Today, Andre Gagnon, President and Dale Beatty, VP, share the journey of the brand.

Liftboss was co-founded in 2006 by Andre Gagnon, Dale Beatty, John Gagnon and Marc Tougas.

“Basically, the four of us wanted to form our own company,” says Gagnon. We saw holes in the level of service with existing equipment sales and rentals of this kind and thought we could band together to provide something better and something more unique. The focus was on providing the customer with what they needed, and with faster response times.”

Beatty agrees, noting, “Liftboss is a 100 per cent Alberta company built around the premise that a happy customer is a repeat customer. We provide quality products and meet customer needs.”

Those products include and feature JCB, an equipment brand that has been a staple in the construction world since 1945. Liftboss and JCB’s partnership goes back to 2017 when the manufacturer approached Liftboss with an offer for them to sell JCB compact equipment. By 2018, JCB awarded Liftboss with a Dealer of Excellence Award. In addition to equipment and rentals, Liftboss provides parts and service. As Beatty notes with a grin, “sell the best, service the rest!”

Gagnon reflects on the history of the brand.

“When we opened in 2006 as Liftboss Inc., we were operating out of a bay in Edmonton and as an authorized dealer for Tailift Worldwide, Hoist and AUSA’s rough terrain forklifts. It was a niche market of equipment brands. After growing from one to three bays very quickly, Liftboss purchased the building in 2007.”

The growth, however, did not slow down. Liftboss grew at a rate of 120-150 per cent in the first two years of operation as the brand quickly expanded to fill increasing customer demands. In 2008 Liftboss signed a five-year lease and opened a branch in Calgary. This was also the year Liftboss became a dealer for TCM forklifts and trucks.

“It was crazy! That was huge!” says Gagnon. “For a no-revenue startup, that was an incredible move. We made sure to scale properly and organically and not push past our limits.”

In 2010 the company took another leap forward when it acquired the rights to distribute AUSA rough terrain machines for all of Canada and became the authorized parts dealer for AUSA for all of North America. Then, the next milestone came in 2012 when Liftboss expanded their previous focus of only material handling and forklifts and became the full line dealer for Doosan’s construction equipment in Alberta. In the same year, to meet their customers’ growing demands, they also became a dealer for Genie and Blue Giant/Big Joe, manufactures of personal aerial lifts.

Gagnon continues, detailing what happened next in 2013, “Due to continued overall growth in the Calgary market, Liftboss purchased a building in the heart of the industrial sector in SE Calgary.”

Two years later, in 2015, TCM was bought out and dissolved. That was not the end of the road for the Liftboss and TCM journey. The road simply diverged onto a new path. TEU, the manufacturers of TCM equipment, approached Liftboss about becoming a TEU dealer for sales, parts and service. Liftboss said yes.

“It was 2017 when we partnered with JCB,” continues Gagnon. “They approached us with an opportunity and within a year Liftboss became the full line JCB construction dealer for the province of Alberta.”

The most recent milestone came in 2022 when Liftboss unveiled their new fully JCB branded dealership, a triumph that sits proudly on five acres of land on the west side of Edmonton and includes a full acre demo centre.

The showroom, and how it came about, demonstrates the tenacity and vision of Liftboss.

Gagnon explains, “JCB has 22 factories around the world and a clear vision on how they design their branded showrooms. We had an idea that differed from their concept. With open communication from both sides, not only did they embrace what we wanted to do, they (after seeing it completed) made it the Canadian standard and they show it to clients all over the world.”

That concept was to take the look of the showroom and make it look more like a car dealership than a heavy equipment dealership. The final result is very exciting.

When you walk into Liftboss’ showroom, you are greeted with whichever piece of equipment is on display. Roller doors allow equipment of all sizes to be brought right into the front room. The offices are open concept on the main floor with salespeople easily accessible. The feeling is warm and friendly. A sweeping staircase leads to the upper level, where the administrative processes take place. Banks of glass windows let in plenty of natural light throughout and empower the team to see and interact with each other within. Nobody is “hidden away” in an office; you can clearly see and feel how the team works together.

The seamless flow of the reception and sales area takes customers to the parts warehouse. This is accessible from the front for those coming through the office, and the back for those coming through the yard. The warehouse is roomy and stocked and the soon-to-be fully staffed parts area has the same open and airy feel as the front.

A standout feature is the “control center” where monitors shows every single piece of Liftboss equipment in operation – and this includes pings on the map in the UK when Liftboss equipment is fired up and ready to ship to Edmonton. Even when sold, Liftboss can accurately pinpoint the machines, recovering them in case of theft or alerting owners to maintenance issues that pop up.

By blending a new concept with futuristic technology and with a design meant to inspire warmth and communication, the new facility is truly one of a kind.

Beatty points out, however, that it takes more than a beautiful building to make a brand a success.

“When we opened the doors in 2006 there were just the four of us, the co-founders. Now we are approaching 60 staff,” he says. “Or team makes all the difference. Our staff is awesome and most have been with us long-term. Our core values (do what you say in a timely manner, open and honest, whatever it takes, service the customer above all else) also help us stand out among our competition. So do our agility, response times and decision making skills.”

Of course, it is not all smooth sailing. As with every business, COVID has affected supply chains, access to talent and more. Gagnon says they meet and exceed each challenge by having longstanding key relationships with suppliers and manufactures, excellent administrative processes, an outstanding corporate culture, stock on hand and clear communication with their buyers.

“This allows us to operate and hold our own amongst the biggest brands in our industry,” he notes.

For Beatty, the most rewarding thing about his days at Liftboss are, “The people I work with and seeing how I am able to help customers.” Gagnon seconds this, adding, “Watching our teams grow, learn and pivot through hard times as well as the great times. Also, seeing the culture that Liftboss has created and watching it develop.”

A big part of the corporate culture is centred on giving back. Liftboss supports a variety of non-profit and charitable interests including but not limited to, Festival of Trees, numerous kids’ sports programs, NAIT’s heavy equipment program and Grant MacEwan’s Distinguished Visiting Artist in Country Music initiative.

Both agree that, “The Edmonton business community is hardworking and has a global impact, yet the business community remains very humble. We enjoy that about this city.”

Gagnon says, “We say a very big thank you to our team. Without our team we cannot grow, change or expand. The team has embraced and is on board with our corporate culture.”

Beatty adds, “We also would like to thank ATB for providing us with support when we were a young company, JCB for believing in Liftboss and providing us with first-class equipment to market and BDC for the support to expand. We thank Peter Vaz from Worldwide Wholesale for believing in us from the start and mentoring us a young company.

What comes next?

“Expansion into Grand Prairie and rebranding our Calgary location with the new JCB Canadian standard,” they grin. “Both of those goals will take place in 2023. We will continue to grow properly, not wildly, and ‘uplift’ our customers, partners, staff and community.”

Learn more about Liftboss on their website. They are also active on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Who is JCB?

Liftboss’s partnership with JCB is an important part of the local company’s identity, but just who is JCB?

JCB is Britain’s most successful family-owned business. The story of this brand started with Joseph Cyril Bamford, aka Mr. JCB. In 1945 he used engineering instincts to develop construction equipment that was ahead of its time. Nearly 80 years on and JCB remains a family business, focused on staying ahead of the curve. A heavy emphasis remains on R&D to ensure JCB remains at the forefront of leading construction equipment and new innovations.

Lord Anthony Bamford, Chairman since 1975, is Joseph’s son. In a move that was all but future-telling, Lord Bamford was born on the day his father set up JCB. Basically, the family grew in two important ways on that fateful day in 1945.

After studying abroad, Lord Bamford started on the JCB’s shop floor. He achieved a management position in 1964 and stepped in to lead JCB’s export drive into Europe in the late 60s. He has been largely credited for spearheading the brand’s global expansion.

JCB’s reach is truly global. You’ll find JCB’s machines on six continents across the globe and at 22 manufacturing plants in UK, Brazil, Germany, China, North America and India. The range includes more than 300 products, including access platforms, compact and mini excavators, rotating telehandlers, generators, rough terrain forklifts, teletruck forklifts and much more.

JCB only aligns itself with companies that share their goals, vision and commitment to community giving and sustainability. The fact that they approached Liftboss in Canada based on Liftboss’ own growth and reputation, and the fact that Liftboss became a JCB Dealer of Excellence within a year of the partnership, speaks to the success of our local, Alberta homegrown brand and the people that lead it.