Posted March 23, 2020
Originally Posted On - August 01, 2019
DredgeWire Publisher Peter Bowe sat with Robert Hagler-President, David Hagler - VP of Sales & Marketing and Lee Henry-Program Mgr of Hagler Systems during the Chicago WEDA (Western Dredging Association) conference for a wide ranging and exclusive interview. The Hagler’s were expansive and candid and positive about the outlook for both their industry and for their company in particular.
The Hagler’s started their business in 1986. Early on they found their way to the oil sands market in Alberta, Canada and have since built four big dredging machines to handle the difficult thixotropic waste arterial generated by oil sands production, primarily by Suncor.
The first machine, known as the “Beast” was a retrofit of a big old sand and gravel dredge. The success of this machine has lead to three follow on order. The latest “The Hydra”, was delivered in the last year. The previous one, the Kraken”, has proved its performance year round at depths of up to 100 ft. (30m) and with a production rate up to 6,000m3/hour of TRO slurry. The key to the success of this machine, especially in material full of trash and debris, has been an innovative debris reducing shredder mulcher developed by Hagler. Instead of a traditional dredge type cutter. Dave Hagler laughed at the material know as muskeg calling it “evil!”
The Haglers have been a shrewd observer of changing trends in the whole oil sands market. They have adapted to evolving thinking within Suncor about standard dredges vs. custom equipment. As a result Suncor has replaced some equipment owned and operated by dredging and pumping contractors with equipment from Hagler.
Hagler still sees room for expansion in Alberta where the oil sands projects are located. They see new clients and new projects and believe that the reclamation part of the business will last for decades to come.
Back in the U.S. Hagler has been busy not only selling traditional GIW products, but is re-designing and overhauling a large phosphate dredges in Florida.
With all of this growth, Hagler has acquired and built our 90,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. Employment has grown from just over a dozen only five years ago to almost 80 today.
Here are their responses to some specific questions:
1. What industry trends do you see impacting your business these days?
Haglers: As the east coast and gulf coast ports have continued to deepen their ports, we have seen a steady increase in the purchasing ofwear parts, which has had a positive impact for us.
2. How are you using technology differently today than you did previously?
Haglers: We have developed “Hagler Connect” which allows for remote monitoring and service through a cellular gateway. This has allowed us to better serve our most remote customers in Canada and the US. When our customers call us we are instantly able to see real time data as well as historical data allowing us to proactively manage maintenance and minimize downtime.
3. How has the regulatory environment affecting your business changed in recent years?
Haglers: With a push to lower emissions, regulatory requirements for engine manufacturers now require EPA Tier 4 Final. The new Tier 4 Final engines have limited the amount of engine control customization that was previously available. This has caused us to overhaul the way we automate our diesel equipment packages.
4. Given the current tight labor markets, what are you doing to recruit new and keeping existing talent?
Haglers: We have created internship and training programs to help & acquire premium talent from local universities.
5. Has the 2017 tax reform law affected your business, and if yes, how?
Haglers: Yes, it has created a situation where we are able to invest more back into our business. Federal and state tax laws are very favorable to manufacturers.
6. What are the biggest challenges facing you today?
Haglers: We have noticed a shift in longer payment terms, with net 90 becoming increasingly common. This creates greater challenges with cash flow management.
7. What achievements has your company accomplished that you are most proud of?
Haglers: The development of our new product line called the “Kraken” series dredge, has solved a very long lasting and expensive challenge for Oil Sands companies. These companies have manmade tailings ponds, which contain very dense organic matter and bitumen mats. Prior to the Kraken, Oil Sands companies experimented using a wide array of equipment offered by standard dredging equipment providers with limited success. The “Kraken” series dredges is successful due to a proprietary debris mulching system. Supplied by with electric power and capable of being fully automated, the Kraken has drastically reduced operating costs, while increasing efficiency and reliability.This new line of dredges have allowed oil sands companies to maximize uptime and remove a long standing bottleneck in the tailings treatment process. Development of “Hagler Connect” which allows us to better service our equipment via cellular gateway.
8. Tell us something about your company that you would like people to know.
Haglers: We have recently formed a partnership with Lagersmit Sealing Solutions, and a relationship with Dutch Dredging Components (Dredge Hoses). Reference attached article
DredgeWire: Thank you for your time.