Home Month and Year April 2022 Digging Deep and Making an Impact

Digging Deep and Making an Impact

The JAPA Group of Companies Celebrates 50 Years

Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt

Family owned and operated since 1972, The JAPA Group of Companies provides heavy equipment rentals, sales, parts and service for the oil and gas, construction and road building industries. As a preferred XCMG retailer, JAPA offers the most advanced equipment on the market. 

In the early 1970s, Jack Edwards and Paul Green decided to go into the heavy equipment business together. They formed two companies, the later one being JAPA. In 1972, the business partners split the interests. Today, the company is on its third generation of ownership with the two latest generations actively working in the brand. 

From the start, JAPA was entrepreneurial-minded and tenacious – in all the right ways.  

“When things started, the business was run from a trailer-type office,” remembers Roger Green, (President). “We really wanted to build a shop, but the bank wouldn’t give us a mortgage. We decided to do it anyways.”

In a move that would define the determination of the brand and the people within it, the team rallied together and started building – literally block by block. They built when money came in and stopped when money was tight. After two years, the shop was complete.

Through the ‘80s and ‘90s JAPA’s reputation, products and services grew, but big changes were afoot. Paul retired in 2003, and Roger, along with Paul’s son David, took over operations along with the rest of the family. They focused on equipment rentals, repairs and a streamlined process that prioritized customer experience. 

This careful attention to detail and business practices, along with a record of successful sales, growth and customer service, were all reasons why JAPA became an XCMG dealer in 2016. It was a milestone for JAPA, becoming the first North American dealer for the brand.

Founded in 1943, Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co., Ltd. (XCMG) is the world’s third largest construction machinery company (as of 2021). Its core values of “taking great responsibilities, acting with great morals and making great achievements” and its corporate spirit of being “rigorous, practical, progressive and creative” resonate with everything JAPA works hard to achieve.

For Maron Mulligan-Green, Director of Business Development, the trips to Shanghai to see XCMG’s factories and to meet the people working in the company there are fondly remembered. Although she admits, “Introducing this new line of Chinese equipment into Canada has been a challenge at this sensitive time in history. It’s difficult to get people past the notion of where it is made and realize that it is exceptional equipment.

“XCMG is based in China but is a great example of the good globalization can bring because all the major components of their machinery are from around the world. The engines are American, the running gear is made in Europe, the attachments are made in Canada and the hydraulic systems are made in Japan. XCMG sources from and sells around the globe.”

Steve Green, Operations Manager adds, “We are happy with the equipment and the service. We move past the hesitation of our customers by letting this equipment speak for itself.”

In addition to XCMG providing some of the world’s leading heavy equipment through JAPA in Western Canada, the brand also involves JAPA in research and development, asking them to test, use and weigh in on new parts and products. 

Roger says, “They ask for and accept feedback. They go back to the engineers, make the changes and are open to making products that work for North America since our region provides a unique working environment for the equipment. They put a lot of trust in our feedback. It’s a special relationship for us.”

In addition to being an XCMG dealer, JAPA sells new and used excavators, graders, soil compactors, wheel loaders, scissor lifts, boom lifts, asphalt compactors, crawler tractors and articulated trucks. The parts department can locate, supply or provide prices and availability for OEM, non-OEM and used parts. JAPA is also an authorized Cummin service centre and a Trek undercarriage dealer. The state-of-the-art headquarters includes a 20,000 square foot shop, a wash bay, two welding bays, three overhead cranes and contains the 80,000 cubic foot heated parts warehouse. Six service trucks are always ready to roll, and all the mechanics are Red Seal certified.

The sales, rentals, parts and service are presided over by the family team, working from 8,000 square feet of office space. From the boardroom to the shop to everything in between, JAPA, who started out as a trailer and hand-built shop, is now a one-stop dealer for all your heavy equipment needs, service and repair.

Shaun Green, Service Manager, says, “We will tackle anything. If anyone comes to us with an issue with a machine of any brand, we have no qualms about trying to solve their problems and coming up with ideas. We are solution orientated.”

“People don’t realize we are the whole package,” Steve adds, “We sell equipment, fix the engines, and provide parts and service for every make and model for all types of customers. Sales, rentals, maintenance on any make or model – we do it all. JAPA is here for our customers and once they contact us and realise the breadth and depth of our service, they say we are amazing. We built up our customer list through our service, integrity, values and hard work.”

But of course, the company is not stopping there. “We are in the midst of adding 100 pieces of equipment to the fleet, including a line of all black excavators,” says Maron. “Lifting equipment is the newest area for JAPA.”

Roger adds, “Within this last year, we built a new department and building just for XCMG parts. Next year, we will reach out to the Calgary market and keep growing.”

The team works hard, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a sense of humour. One of the things they all get a giggle out of is the calls asking if they are the Japanese embassy. And then, there is that golf simulator.

When the shop in Acheson was built in 2017, there was a room upstairs that just happened to be the right size for a golf simulator. Never one to let an opportunity pass by, Roger and David found a golf simulator company in Palm Springs that was going out of business. That simulator now resides in their head office.

“Before COVID, it was a great place for meetings!” laughs Maron. 

“In the winter, customers would come in and play 18 holes,” smiles Roger.

The family is quick to also attribute the success of JAPA, outside of their work dynamic, to their staff, suppliers, customers and community. They are especially thankful to Paul Green who went the extra mile in getting JAPA off the ground, taking out a loan against his own vehicle to afford the first pieces of equipment, and to the clients that have been with them since 1972.

JAPA gives back by providing a safe and empowering workplace, by supporting non-profits such as Edmonton’s Food Bank and Kids Sport and by supporting the Acheson Business Association. JAPA also continues its partnership with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) apprenticeship program, helping to grow and support the next generation of heavy equipment technicians. Giving back is part of JAPA’s DNA. To honour their 50th anniversary, JAPA will donate to 50 charities across the greater Edmonton region.

The contributions to the heavy equipment industry and community have not gone unnoticed. JAPA is proud to be the recipient of XCMG’s dealership of the year award for Canada and to see one of their salespeople, John, receive XCMG’s top sales award. They’ve also been recognized with an outstanding service award and an Acheson Business Association brick and mortar award for their state-of-the art shop and office.

JAPA, the family business founded by service mechanics and grown to catch the eye of one of the world’s largest equipment suppliers, looks forward to the next 50 years. The family and team are excited about the future and all the possibilities it brings to provide the best equipment, parts, service and R&D. By working with integrity and never wavering from the customer service they have become legendary for, JAPA moves forward with the motto, “there is no challenge too big or too small. We will take it on. We are honest, work hard and find solutions. Bring it on!”

JAPA will host an open house on May 6th to celebrate 50 years. Learn more at japamachinery.com.

10397 – 267 St.,  Acheson, Alberta T7X 6A2
Phone: 780-962-5272