Leduc Truss is one of the most recognized truss and wood product producers in the nation. A dedicated and meticulous workforce ensures the quality of final product. We spoke General Manager Keith Tindall about this and the state of the industry in Alberta.
Leduc Truss was formed in 1981 by Cliff Paulson, Gord Tober, Russ Dyson and Harold Cox. The four major partners had a common interest in providing the best service that the industry could give. Since then, Cliff and Gord have retired and, since 2006, the business has been part of The Qualico Group.
From 1981 to 1986 the business grew rapidly. Expansion of its production and range of designs followed without compromising integrity. “We remain true to our initial business philosophy: supply superior quality products, competitively priced, with a customer service experience second to none,” says the company.
Over the years, Leduc Truss has continued to develop and reinvent itself. In 1989, it recognized the future potential for engineered floor systems in residential construction and led the market in the Edmonton region. It has become an industry leader in health and safety and has been third-party certified since 2000. In 2012, a significant capital investment allowed Leduc to employ new methods of production levelling and lean manufacturing processes.
Leduc’s suppliers are national and international. Leduc’s lumber broker purchases from mills where it knows the quality is solid. New mills will also be used after checking the quality through the company’s quality control system. It uses a plate connector company called MiTek, which is very well known across North America, throughout Europe and Australasia.
“I have to say that we have great trade partners,” says Keith. “We have three to four main suppliers, and like most truss companies, we have absolutely fantastic support. It’s all about building strong relationships with your suppliers, and there is not one of them that I would mark at less than ten out of ten.”
Presently, the company is creating an online presence as part of a marketing strategy. The company is venturing into social media channels such as Linked In, Facebook and Twitter, with Instagram soon to follow. From what Keith has seen in the Alberta region, there is not enough promotion in this industry, although he acknowledges it is not a sexy product. “We’ve introduced this, and it’s not about selling. It’s just about connecting. There are other companies that use it.” From his research, the company uses it effectively.
New changes are coming for the construction code, and Leduc is ready. A new product is to have a patent application made as of mid-June. Final photographs have been completed and Keith feels that it will greatly enhance the construction industry. Window headers are currently made of solid lumber. The new product is designed and engineered to exceed the insulating properties of lumber and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) header construction.
“With all due respect to framers, framing is done to different tolerances on site. So, we have factory-framed window panels with an insulated header. It is quite new for the industry.”
Keith tells us that the innovative idea is something that came to his mind about nine months ago due to companies calling the window company to complain that the window is leaking. It was nearly always due to the framing and not the window itself.
“We thought, ‘Well, how can we make this different and more efficient? Why do we need solid lumber or LVL in a lot of the header applications?’ So, we set about to develop and design an alternative with greatly increased R-values.”
In recent years, a new quality control (QC) program has been instituted. “We have a dedicated QC team that performs random checks on height, span, overhang and plate positioning on the manufacturing of trusses. Each month, it is put in the computer to check for non-variances,” says Keith.
The quality control sets it apart from the competition. It has two dedicated quality control people who are some of the best in their field. “They live it and breathe it.” Every day, they measure random and check everything, starting with the quality of the lumber.
“The interesting thing is, when you have a high volume production plant, the last thing you need is poor quality. If you are going to make it once, make it right the first time,” says Keith.
The Western Wood Truss Association (WWTA) third-party exterior audit of Leduc Truss for 2015 gave it a rare perfect score, and only a select few plants can claim this. The WWTA examines the company’s processes, procedures and reporting.
The company has also received the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) 2015 awards of excellence for manufacturing. “We wondered exactly what our customers think of us. You have to nominate yourself. It’s a bit like a politician going for office. You can’t get an award unless you enter it, so we entered it,” says Keith. CHBA then sends surveys to local manufacturers and other suppliers asking what they think of the nominees.
“I don’t even know what the survey said or how it is scored. Suddenly we received notification that many had entered, and we were down to the final five! It was put in the brochure. Then, a few days later, I was reading the final three, and there was Leduc Truss!”
Keith went with a couple others from the company to collect the award in front of 1,650 high-profile people in the industry. Back at the office, he called every hard-working member of the Leduc team and congratulated them on this achievement.
One must keep in mind that all of this is taking place amidst the turmoil of the Alberta economy. Like most companies, Leduc has to look at its overhead costs, cuts have to be made and improvements undertaken. However, morale is good, and the future remains solid.
The housing market has plummeted, but Alberta is known for its peaks and troughs. Housing starts are down along with housing stock, but, “Alberta has not gone to sleep. Although there are a lot of hardship stories related to the oil industry, and there was obviously the tragedy in Fort McMurray, which has had an impact, not so much for rebuilding, but just psychologically. So, how has it affected us? Yes, we have had to cut back, but are looking at planning for 2017 to 2018, and we are going to be just fine,” says Keith.