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In the Heat of Opportunity

 

Industrial Rubber Company Inc.
For many Canadian residents, sun and sand can seem a long way off when the snow banks are almost as tall as you are.

But for Barry Kyle and his team of 28 highly skilled employees in Bathurst, New Brunswick, they are ever-present realities whatever the conditions outside as they build products to help Canada’s troops weather the extreme heat and desert sands of Afghanistan.

“Heat is an extreme variable for rubber,” Barry explains from his office at Industrial Rubber Company Inc. (IRC). “The higher the heat, the faster the rubber deteriorates. So, blending different types of rubber is necessary for products to withstand the intense heat of a place like Afghanistan … and I guess that’s one of the tricks of our trade.”

And it’s a trick Barry puts to good use in innovative products like heat and wear-resistant rubber track pads that move Canadian Leopard 1 battle tanks, as well as Leopard 1 tanks used in the NATO countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. 

From humble beginnings as a local tire shop in 1975, Barry’s company has established itself as one of a select few manufacturing rubber molded products and linings for the Canadian military, as well as for mining, chemical and pulp and paper companies around the world.

 

According to Barry, their first big expansion opportunity knocked in 1986.

While delivering products to the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, he spied piles of worn tires bound for refurbishment in Germany. Confident of his company’s expertise supplying rubber products to the local mining industry, he offered to refurbish 20 tank wheels. A new business relationship soon emerged.

Today, IRC still refurbishes all the rubber wheels on Canada’s armoured personnel carriers.

Barry says ACOA’s assistance helped his company at pivotal points in its development: when they needed help preparing military proposals, obtaining specialized equipment, and walking through the arduous process of ISO certification. “For us, achieving certification meant the difference between just serving New Brunswick and serving the world.”

IRC’s next expansion will soon service Newfoundland’s oil and gas industry. And ever watchful for new opportunities, Barry’s keen eyes are fixed on the Far East.

“It appears China is going to lead mass-produced rubber manufacturing,” he says. “Who knows? We may find some joint ventures to work on.”

From Bathurst, to Afghanistan, and perhaps even the Far East — this company is proving you can keep opportunity in sight whatever the visibility outside.

For more information on Industrial Rubber Company Inc. and the Year of the Entrepreneur, click here.

Published on March 25, 2011.