Since WATERAX Inc. was founded in 1898, it has seen a couple of acquisitions before its most recent incarnation: a purchase by three management colleagues in 2010.
The company’s flagship product is the Mark-3 water pump, an evolution of the portable firefighting water pump originally developed in the 1920s. The Mark-3 came out in 1964 and redefined the art of rural firefighting, where water is not always in the same location as the fire. The unit is light-weight and compact and represents the gold standard in this kind of firefighting across North America. In recent years, it’s gained traction in foreign markets.
But in order to do that, the company needed a little help along the way. WATERAX has been working with Export Development Canada (EDC) for more than 20 years. Until recently, the company only used EDC’s credit insurance to insure its receivables.
But when WATERAX wanted to secure a contract with a client that had been eluding the company for years, it used EDC’s matchmaking services, part of the EDC Business Connection Program. Not only did it secure the deal, it did so in a second market—Mexico, which greatly expanded its business there.
Our experience with Masisa really illustrated the importance of talking to the right people. EDC and the TCS know those people. They matched me with the right decision-maker. It was a result of not giving up. More importantly, EDC and TCS got the right people in front of us.
How EDC helped
“We’ve been working with a couple of large companies in Chile for years but this one company, Masisa, we could never seem to crack that nut,” explains Marcello Iacovella, partner and vice-president of sales and development at WATERAX. “I had met with them, my sales people in Chile met with them and they were always very interested, but we never seemed to get any traction. It was puzzling because these other companies were using us as was the federal government. I always suspected it was a channel issue and it turns out it was.”
So when he got a call from EDC suggesting he go to a matchmaking event in Montreal at which Masisa would be represented, he jumped at the chance.
“When I met the manager from Masisa and I bluntly told him my story,” Iacovella recalls. “He said I clearly hadn’t been talking to the right people. He said he was familiar with our product and was also curious as to why they weren’t using it. That’s when I saw rainbows and unicorns.”
Six months after that matchmaking meeting, Iacovella was shipping his product to Masisa’s operation in Mexico.
“I had done some business in Mexico, but never at that level, so it also meant breaking into a new market.”
His future plans are to take that experience and “cut, paste and repeat,” he says. “This is what we have to do in other markets.” He says the company is looking at its international markets, including strategic acquisitions, in order to reach its growth targets. He’s also looking closely at existing markets in which he’d like to expand his reach.
He plans to continue using EDC’s matchmaking services to grow his company and to expand into markets such as Latin America and Asia—markets he knows can use his equipment for forest firefighting.
EDC service used
EDC Business Connection Program
EDC customers can take advantage of our deep understanding of Canadian capabilities and specific needs of major international buyers through the EDC Business Connection Program. Through this program, Canadian companies are “connected” with international buyers through formal matchmaking events and other introductions.