The Bucket Shop is a Canadian company based in Timmins, Ontario that specializes in the manufacture and repair of buckets and truck boxes for the mining industry. After thirty years in business, the company has grown to be an indispensable asset to its customers in the Timmins Mining Camp and beyond.
Established in 1989 by founder Paul Woodward, the company began as one of four business units operating under the name United Supply Group. United Supply, United Equipment Rentals, Steeltec, and the Bucket Shop. Over the course of its existence, the company has changed substantially, streamlining its offerings to suit the needs of the market. As a result of this refocusing, United Supply was sold in 2015, and the fleet of equipment available through United Equipment Rentals has been reduced significantly. Today, the company is centrally focuses on the two remaining business units: Steeltec, and The Bucket Shop.
Steeltec is the company’s welding and millwright division. Operating in plants and mining camps throughout Northern Ontario, this division provides a broad range of services including onsite equipment repairs, fabrication of steel components, and much more. The Bucket Shop is its bucket manufacture and repair division. It specializes in providing life-cycle extending wear solutions for heavy equipment buckets, and offers a number of related products and added-value services.
The Bucket Shop began its life in a 5000 square foot shop with two employees. From that location the company began to develop its expertise and build a reputation in the region. That effort lead to enough success that it expanded its shop space twice, settling eventually in a 26,000 square foot facility. But the growth continued, and in 2018 the company was awarded a one million dollar repayable contribution from FEDNOR under the Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario (TMINO) program toward building its fourth expansion, a ten million dollar 65,000 square foot plant in Timmins’ west end.
This new state-of-the-art facility has been equipped with industry leading technology including ventilation and fume extraction systems to keep workers operating in a safe environment, cutting and bending machinery to expand the companies fabrication capabilities, and a 70 ton overhead crane, one of the largest in the region. The company hired twelve new employees to staff the new shop, adding to their existing workforce of roughly one hundred people. Prior to the expansion, a lack of space was a major limiting factor on the company’s growth. This expansion has enabled it to increase capacity and operate more efficiently.
In the mining industry, heavy equipment buckets are used to move earth and rock. They’re used to dig trenches, to excavate, to dig up and carry heavy rocks in a process called mucking, and much more. These processes can be hard on the equipment. Constant stress and heat can wear down even the most durable machines, so a special category of accessories known as wear solutions are essential. The Bucket Shop offers a line of high performance wear solutions that are capable of extending the life-cycle of mining equipment by three to four hundred percent.
According to The Bucket Shop’s website, its central goal is to help customers in the earth moving sector reduce operating costs and improve overall productivity by extending the life of their equipment. The company leverages a metallurgical expertise toward the creation of metal components made of specialized alloys that are designed to prevent equipment wear. Beyond improved durability, it has created a number of innovations that can help customers improve their productivity.
One such innovation is a mechanically attached front lip for buckets. Because the front lip section of a bucket is under the most stress it will tend to wear down much faster than the rest. Rather than replacing the entire bucket when this happens, the buckets are designed so that the lip can be removed and replaced. Typically these pieces are welded on, so the replacement process requires the old front to be cut off, and a new front to be welded into place. For an underground mining operation this often means transporting the equipment to the surface for the repair. This creates down time which can be very expensive for large scale operations.
The Bucket Shop has designed an innovative front-end piece that can be mechanically attached to the bucket without any welding. The process can be quickly performed underground, which is a significant time savings, which translates directly into cost savings for the customer.
This lip system is a part of The Bucket Shop’s high performance “HiPER” product line, and beyond its mechanical attachment feature, a number of other innovations have been made. The lip is cast from a specialized wear resistant alloy that can improve the life of the component by up to four times. The contours of the lip have been specially engineered for maximum penetration, and the lip shrouds, or teeth, of the lip are designed so that the way they wear down results in a self-sharpening effect. Special inserts made of a different alloy with a higher hardness rating are strategically placed on the lip further improving wear resistance.
While the lip of the bucket experiences the most wear, the second most stressed piece is the heel, or the back portion of the bottom side of the bucket. The HiPER line includes a high performance heel protector cast in wear resistant alloy that also features mechanical attachment and additional alloy inserts. These, and the HiPER cast lip components, are available for all makes and models of scoop trams and front-end loaders.
Complimenting these products, the company offers a wide range of auxiliary components for related applications. These include shrouds and other hardware for bucket repair, undercarriage parts like shoes and rollers for tracks, wear plates, dust collection equipment, and much more.
Due to the extensive capacity of its new facility, the company is able to provide additional support services to its client base. It has gas and plasma cutting tables, a painting area with sand blasting capabilities, a fleet of trucks for transporting heavy equipment, and a fleet of equipment available to customers for rent. By providing this line of accessory components and these additional services, The Bucket Shop is able to offer a lot of added value to the mining industry and has become an important asset to its customers as a result.
Buckets are the company’s specialty, but it has also found a market for working on large truck box assemblies. The Bucket Shop offers full assembly and repair services for new and used truck boxes, as well as specially engineered liners that are customized to fit any truck bed.
With 30 years of field experience and a well developed understanding of the needs of the mining industry, The Bucket Shop has built a solid reputation. Its focus on providing value to customers has earned it a great deal of recognition within its industry, and it has won a number of prestigious awards as a result. In 2017 the company was nominated for two awards by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce at the NOVA ‘17 awards ceremony. It was selected as a finalist in the Business of the Year category and won a President’s award. Later that year it was honored with a Judges Choice award at the Northern Ontario Business Awards ceremony. This recognition demonstrates the companies commitment to the work it does.
More recently, The Bucket Shop has focused its efforts on expanding its reach into global markets. Beyond Timmins, the company has worked in remote locations throughout Canada, various places in the United States, and as far away as Africa. It hopes to extend its reach even further in future years.