In 1988, Luc Bouchard, a 25-year-old father of three, took a gamble on an idea, mortgaging his home to raise the funds to start his own business. Twentyeight years later, that gamble has more than paid off, as Northern Truss is still going strong and growing.
Located in the small town of Moonbeam, just south of Kapuskasing, Northern Truss designs and manufactures roof trusses, floor systems, wall panels, wood sheds, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beams, hangers, and custom wood projects.
The company started out servicing clients situated along the Highway 11 corridor between Hearst and Cochrane, and has slowly extended its reach into Timmins, Longlac, Northwestern Quebec, and the James Bay coast.
“Northern Truss has been able to increase sales and clients by providing a more diverse product line and building solutions to its existing customer base and seizing opportunities within its existing market segment,” notes the company.
“The company’s growth strategy within its existing market exemplifies the qualities and attributes of strategic planning.”
A key investment came in 2011 when company operations were expanded as part of an $800,000, 6,000-squarefoot addition onto the existing facility. With the adoption of new technology — including a computerized wall panel machine, air guns, and a mobile crane — the new space provided room for the company to produce wall panels and floor systems, adding to its product line. “Northern Truss is now a one-stop source for the building contractor,” the company notes.
“Instead of taking close to a full week to frame walls, install floor joists and install trusses, it can now take less than two days. Northern Truss can build the entire system, deliver on site, and help install the entire building solution.”
With the investment came increased productivity and sales. Between 2009 and 2013, Northern Truss has more than doubled its annual sales numbers and increased its profit margin.
The expansion also allowed the company to participate in a number of major infrastructure projects. Northern Truss secured a number of contracts through the Lower Mattagami hydroelectric project, providing concrete forms for the expansive initiative.
And there has been additional work beyond the construction industry: as agriculture in the North makes a comeback, Northern Truss has found it has filled a niche market building large barns.
With the extra work came a need for more employees. Over the last six years, the company has created four new fulltime jobs along with work for students and seasonal employees, bringing the total workforce to 15 people. Sixty per cent of the company workforce is under the age of 30, all of whom left the region to pursue a postsecondary education and were lured back by the opportunity offered by Northern Truss.
“The company strongly believes in providing opportunities to Northern Ontario youth and that the success of the company relies heavily on a strong succession plan,” notes the company.
Part of that succession plan has involved Luc passing along company knowledge to the next generation; his son, Mathieu, has, over the last few years, become increasingly involved in the management and oversight of the business.
Community involvement is also important to the company, and over the years Northern Truss has contributed to a number of local schools, events, organizations and sports teams.
To recognize its impact on the community, Northern Truss was named Business of the Year in 2014 by the Kapuskasing and District Chamber of Commerce.