Jonas Short wouldn’t say saving himself and his company nearly half a million dollars
was a shrewd business move. Rather, he’d say it was something done out of necessity.
Last winter, Short took on a tedious and time-consuming task in his shop at
Instead of buying a new loader, he rebuilt one at a cost of close to $300,000. It’s a good machine,
he said, but it has aging technology. Sure, he would have preferred to purchase a new
piece of equipment, but the money wasn’t there for him to spend $800,000 on a new loader.
Saskatchewan’s slowed economy has resulted in fewer projects for road builders. Fewer
projects means fewer dollars. But if those in the industry thought business was already tight,
just ask them how the newly instituted federal carbon tax impacts their financial standing.
“When you’re taxing us, that’s more money taken from our bottom line,” said Short. “This
means I don’t have the resources to upgrade my equipment or to use a cleaner-burning piece
of equipment. I just can’t afford to.
“If a new loader is going to cost me $800,000 and it’s going to cost me a lot less to fix an older
one every year, obviously my cash flow is going to tell me to fix the older machine.”
Short isn’t the only one in the road building industry who has taken this approach with
equipment. Several contractors are rebuilding their machines or buying used ones at a fraction
of the cost of a new piece fresh off the assembly line.
This mindset has taken a toll on heavy machinery dealers. Finning has sold approximately
2,000 fewer pieces of equipment to Saskatchewan contractors. Meanwhile, Brandt’s sales
are down by about 30 per cent.
“I think the guys who are seeing the most business right now are the ones selling used
equipment,” said a local heavy machinery salesman, who asked for anonymity. “It’s unfortunate
for us, but I understand why guys aren’t buying new. They’re paying more – a lot more –
in that (carbon) tax and it affects them dearly.
“I’ve had a lot of guys tell me they just can’t afford new machines right now. They’re taking
on an added expenditure. Hopefully that will change.”
Over the past several years, those in the heavy construction industry have taken steps to
reduce their carbon footprint. GPS tracking devices have been added to a lot of equipment
and vehicles to help reduce unnecessary usage and better gauge idling time. Short noted
that his crews lowered idling time nearly 40 per cent.
Brand new equipment has seen state-of-the-art technology added that lowers emissions
or burns cleaner.
Scenes from the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 3 2019 | Think BIG 33