Defined by its business relationships
Having grown via a number of acquisitions, Platinum Tank Group values the enhancement of customer and supplier relationships at times of changing market conditions in the North American tank manufacturing industry
The marketing umbrella subsidiary of The Remcor Group, Platinum Tank Group (PTG) comprises of four separate entities that specialise in the manufacturing of aluminium tank trailers and truck tanks for the transportation of petroleum, crude oil, hot products, and dry bulk. The company also has a small market niche of building aircraft refuelers – a venture that generates annual revenues in the four to eight-million-dollar range.
“Acquisition has undoubtedly been the number one reason for growth,” Platinum Tank Group’s President and Owner, Tony Roberts begins. “We directly manage 125 years of internal manufacturing experience, so to speak. Each of our companies is celebrating an anniversary next year – Remtec is turning 40, Columbia Remtec Manufacturing is having its 35th anniversary, and LBT and Almac Tank International will have both been PTG affiliates for 25 years. In fact, each of our affiliates have resulted through the acquisition of well-established tanker manufacturers suffering from some form of financial distress.”
Remtec, located in Chambly, Canada -which is also Platinum Tank Group’s headquarters – has honed its skills in producing aluminium petroleum tank trailers for 40 years during which the company has established a significance presence in the Eastern Canadian market. The Western Canadian market is covered by Columbia Remtec Manufacturing (CRM). Based in Vancouver, CRM has been dedicated to the petroleum industry since 1984, having also added the manufacturing of aluminium crude oil tank trailers to its capabilities. “We acquired Columbia, when the company was having financial issues and had no succession planning to take on the restructuring challenge ahead of them. It is a good example to illustrate how our industry works; we are a small player in the larger economic landscape of North America, but we all know what is going on. Therefore, when a company wants to sell, it normally happens within the industry. As such, we have noticed a tremendous amount of industry consolidation recently,” Tony points out.
LBT – Platinum Tank Group’s largest company in both size and revenue – is also the only of the four that hails from the United States. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, LBT – formally Fruehauf – was acquired by the Canadian group following a turbulent economic period in the early 1990s. Recognized as one of North America’s important original equipment manufacturers, LBT has proven its capability of producing durable liquid and dry bulk trailers and portable storage units. LBT boasts a highly experienced and skilled team of engineers, very qualified production supervisors and manufacturing team members that together produce some of the finest tank trailers within the industry.
Taking pride in its ability to provide custom tank designs, the fourth company in Platinum Tank Group – Almac Tank International – has grown into one of the most versatile manufacturers of bulk liquid road transportation and distribution equipment in North America. Aside from its core business of building truck tanks for the transportation and distribution of petroleum, Almac Tank International also supplies aircraft refuelling equipment.
“Throughout the transportation industry, PTG partners with national carriers both in the United States and Canada – KAG to name one important example; but we equally set up strong relationships with many regional and/or smaller carriers,” Tony comments. “We are trying to utilise our distribution network to find the soft spot where we can supply both to the big players in the industry, as well as the regional and local carriers.”
The latter claim depicts Platinum Tank Group’s strategic vision to form and nurture fruitful business relationships on all levels. “The interactions we have with our customers and suppliers, as well as with our own employees, are key elements for us and have definitely had a positive impact on our business development and success,” Tony reasons. “In fact, growth, per se, is not that easy to achieve during volatile market conditions like the present. To succeed we must maintain positive interactions with our customers and continue fulfilling their requirements with our products through our manufacturing operations. In order to achieve this, we need to continue following the principles of consistency, integrity, and honesty; both internally with our employees and externally within the marketplace and the industry in general.
“We firmly believe that our suppliers are a critical part of the customer relationships and therefore we are totally committed to strong relationships within our supply chain. It would not be an exaggeration if I said that our suppliers help make us who we are, so working closely with them is an absolute necessity if we want to remain a reliable supplier of the products we manufacture,” Tony states.
The right balance
Together, the four Platinum Tank Group affiliated companies manufacture in excess of over 1000 tanker units per year. Generally speaking, PTG will employ anywhere between 300 and 400 employees depending upon economic and market conditions.
But, what is it that allows them to produce these tankers, whilst ensuring their top quality? “Quite simply, a complete balance of product design integrity, product durability and ergonomics, quality workmanship and manufacturing processes, modern and well maintained equipment, a positive and safe work environment, strong management and ongoing interactive communication at every level – much easier said than done!” exclaims Tony.
While the economic conditions are presently positive in both the US and Canada, there are challenges that face the Platinum Tank Group and the industry at large. First, Tony discusses the shortage of manpower that is currently causing distress within the industry: “The ability to engage quality people across North America is proving to be very difficult at present. This is very true not only in the manufacturing environment but equally in the transportation industry in terms of quality drivers.” Second, Tony references the North American political environment: “The current ‘noise’ in national politics, especially surrounding the imposition of import tariffs on aluminium and steel, as well as the NAFTA negotiations, are creating uncomfortable levels of volatility and insecurity. Such volatility and insecurity makes business planning very difficult to say the least.”
Nevertheless, Tony remains confident that the prospects and opportunities within the industry remain bright. “We have a great industry and we contribute our fair share to the wider economy of North America. It is true that we have encountered certain challenges, but together with our competitors, we are building quality products that are important for the economy. What we need to do now is try to stay close to our suppliers and adjust as best as we can to any changes in the market conditions. Efficient communication between all elements that are in play is going to be the number one component to success in the near future; we must keep the right balance in our relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and the industry at large in order to navigate our business in these dynamic times,” Tony concludes.
Platinum Tank Group
Products: Aluminium petroleum, dry bulk, crude oil, and hot products tanks; aircraft refueler