In 1982, Leonard Haddow designed and built the “Bolaro-Cat,” a clever, two-component pumping system using Aro pumps and air motors for spray and dispense applications. The engineering entrepreneur launched a business selling and servicing the custom-made product out of Mississauga, Ontario for varied applications from hockey sticks to pipeline coatings. By the late 1980s, the small company had taken on the Graco product line in addition to Aro (now Ingersol Rand Aro), making Bolair a recognized expert for both Aro and Graco pumping systems within the two-components coatings industry.
Bolair Fluid Handling Systems remains a leading player in two-component systems today, with a nearly 40-year history of providing specialized equipment to service everything from water containment projects and pipelines to tanks and bridges.
Spray foam insulation equipment for residential and commercial projects are in high demand and Bolair’s complete, turnkey spray rigs have been a runaway success. “They’re essentially a business in a box,” says Gregory Haddow, Vice President of Sales. The team builds the entire system within a trailer or truck for mobility, outfitting it with everything needed for a particular application. This includes all the necessary spray equipment for applying foam insulation, as well as a lot more bells and whistles: Bolair insulates the rig, lines the walls with a cleanable surface, and installs generators, compressors, air dryers, and all the power equipment the system needs for both spray foam and coatings applications.
The company also builds walls and puts in workbenches, cabinets, toolboxes, air conditioners, and diesel heaters – “whatever is required by the customer,” says Cameron Haddow, Vice President of Business Development.
Bolair is committed to quality and safety throughout the building process, and the team takes special care to ensure the system will withstand the rigors of a freezing winter. “Our rigs, being in Canada, are built for the climate that we encounter here,” Cameron says. To ensure a safe environment, anything an operator might need in an emergency is included, from breathing systems and first aid stations to eye wash stations and fire extinguishers. In addition, Bolair builds all spray rigs to CSA/ESA electrical standards laid out by Canada’s Electrical Safety Authority.
Cameron and Gregory took over the business from their father in 2003. “We kind of grew up with the business [doing] summer jobs, learning the industry,” Cameron recalls. The preparation paid off; the brothers have managed to expand and thrive as a second-generation family company. “It’s grown significantly since then,” Cameron says. “In 2003, we were down to three employees so we were pretty lean at that time. And now we’re up around 30.”
The Haddows know how to stay in their own lane while maintaining a collaborative environment, which they believe has been key to their growth and success. “Although we’re both very involved in the business in most aspects of it, we have a good delineation of roles,” Cameron says. “We certainly share ideas and bounce things off each other, but we have our own responsibilities.”
The brothers’ commitment to communication extends to their employees. “We also have a very open door policy,” Gregory says. “At any time they can call us. They can come see us… One of our key strengths I think we have as a company is we’re very flexible, we’re very open with our employees.”
A company culture that emphasizes respect is another contributing factor to Bolair’s enduring success. “Our values are that we treat everyone that we encounter with respect and that [includes] fellow employees, customers, vendors, the courier that comes in the back door,” Cameron says. “We base our entire way we operate on that premise – that everyone deserves respect.”
This attitude naturally leads to superior customer service. Employees are always ready to lend customers a hand – and they have the mechanical skills to deliver the best help. “[We have] thirty something years of experience in those products and a focus on the technical expertise that’s required,” Cameron says. “Most of our products aren’t ‘sell off the shelf’ kind of products; they require technical support and they, at some point, will probably require service because there are mechanical components that eventually will fail.”
To this end, Bolair boasts fully equipped service centers at its offices in Halton Hills, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; Langley, British Columbia; and Moncton, New Brunswick. Each location is an authorized service center for Graco, GlasCraft, Gusmer, Ingersol Rand Aro, Wiwa, Europoliuretani and Titan/Speeflo products. Service staff can handle repairs in-shop or travel to the customer’s worksite. The team’s underlying goal throughout the service process is to deliver quality repairs while keeping costs and downtime to a minimum. To help speed things along, the company keeps a large number of parts in stock at the shops.
Certainly, Bolair’s geographical reach is an important advantage. With offices and service centers spread across four different provinces, Bolair is relatively close to all its customers. “We have three branches that are strategically placed across Canada which helps us serve all of Canada,” Gregory says. “We can pull from any of those warehouses if need be.”
Bolair also offers comprehensive foam and equipment training with the purchase of any spray foam rig. Full, hands-on training programs are available at the Halton Hills head office and the Edmonton branch office, or the company can send employees on-site to train customers. Customers can take advantage of broad-based or focused training for chemical manufacturers and suppliers as well as in-classroom theory training.
Of course, customers don’t need training to choose the right product. They can count on Bolair’s sales staff, who understand the ins and outs of the products they sell. “Our salespeople are all technical sales people that have an innate knowledge of the industries we’re in, the applications, and of course the equipment we sell,” Cameron says.
Bolair also enjoys an advantage when it comes to pricing. “We have very good buying power with our vendors such as Graco, which enables us to offer extremely competitive pricing,” Gregory says. And the team knows how to engineer a product to save the customer money. “We’ve designed our mobile rigs, having many years’ experience with them, to essentially provide the most cost-effective solution to the customer,” Gregory says. “We’re competing extremely well with [them].”
And Bolair continues to develop new products. The company just designed a compact, portable system for spray foam and coatings that is sure to make an impression on the industry. The new design includes most of the equipment in Bolair’s standard spray rig, but the entire system fits on a movable cart that can pass through a standard doorway. “It allows a contractor to target high-rise buildings and take it floor to floor for spray foam installation,” Gregory explains. “We’re pretty excited about it. We think it’s going to have some good advantages.”
The team plans to increase Bolair’s online presence to keep the company moving forward. “Some of the ways we’re growing the business now are through the technology side, in terms of marketing and ecommerce,” Gregory says, and a new ecommerce website is already in the works and will be launching soon.
The brothers have taken a careful, thoughtful approach to expansion, building a strong foundation from which to launch. “We’ve always had a motto where we walk before we run when we expand and grow, but we’ve grown significantly in the last seventeen years and we plan to keep doing that,” Gregory says. “We plan to keep expanding across Canada when the time is right and the opportunities exist.”