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Ep004: Industrial Torquing and Bolting With Colin Livingston of CanTorque

In this episode of the Industrial Innovators Podcast, Don Cooper and Colin Livingston discuss the importance of specialized bolting practices and the value of expertise in the field. They delve into the challenges faced in the industry, the need for reliable tools and support, and the impact of innovation on their business. Don and Colin emphasize the significance of building strong relationships with customers and providing valuable solutions. With decades of experience, they highlight the importance of collaboration and continuous learning in their field. Tune in to gain insights into the world of bolting and the value of specialized knowledge.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways from the Podcast:

1. Importance of Specialized Bolting Practices: The podcast highlights the critical role of specialized bolting practices in various industries. The expertise and knowledge in this field are vital for ensuring safety, efficiency, and reliability.

2. Reliable Tools and Support: Don Cooper and Colin Livingston emphasize the need for reliable bolting tools and robust support systems. In critical situations, having access to dependable tools and prompt assistance can save significant time and costs.

3. Value of Innovation: The discussion underscores the impact of innovation on the bolting industry. From introducing calibrated torque wrenches to developing low-profile tools, continuous innovation has revolutionized the way bolting tasks are performed, enhancing accuracy and effectiveness.

4. Building Strong Customer Relationships: Building strong relationships with customers is crucial. Kantorque prioritizes customer support and assistance, ensuring that clients have the necessary knowledge and guidance to use their tools effectively. Trust and long-term partnerships are key to success.

5. Collaboration and Continuous Learning: Don and Colin highlight the importance of collaboration and continuous learning. Surrounding oneself with great people, asking the right questions, and seeking expertise contribute to problem-solving and innovation in the field of bolting.

For more in-depth insights and discussions on specialized bolting practices, tools, and the value of expertise, we recommend listening to the full podcast episode. Gain a deeper understanding of the industry and how it continues to evolve to meet the demands of various sectors.

Wyatt McPherson 0:00

This podcast is created and produced by Innovator. If you’re looking to cut back or eliminate hot work on your next job or for all of your industrial services needs, visit innovator.ca.

Hello, and welcome to the Industrial Innovators Podcast hosted by founder and CEO of Innovator, Don Cooper. I’m Wyatt McPherson. I produce this show, and this week, we have got a longtime friend and business associate of Don’s with us, Colin Livingston, founder of Kanturk. They discuss their long history together, technologies they’re utilizing and developing in the world of bolting, where the businesses are at, and what they see for the future. So let’s hear what they have to say.

Don Cooper 0:42

Good day, everyone. This is Don Cooper, and this is the Industrial Innovators Podcast. Today, we have a longtime friend of mine, Colin Livingston from Kanturk, and today we are going to talk about Colin’s business and specifically around everything he’s doing with manufacturing, distribution, and supply of hydraulic torque wrenches. Good. Hey, Colin, how’s it going, buddy?

Colin Livingston 1:05

Oh, pretty good, man. How you doing?

Don Cooper 1:07

I’m doing fantastic. We’ve got about an hour and a half to chat. You’ve got a flight to catch. Are you needing to be off at 3:15? Is that when you’ve got your flight?

Colin Livingston 1:21

I fly later on this afternoon. I just need to get to the airport, but domestic flight and I’m just carrying on. So it shouldn’t be too bad.

Don Cooper 1:28

Perfect. We’ll try to extract as much out of you as possible for the audience. So…

Colin Livingston 1:35

We can fill up an hour and a half talking about torque wrenches and industry.

Don Cooper 1:41

We could probably fill up an hour and a half talking about bolting war stories before either one of us had a company. So, a little bit of history. Colin and I have known each other for at least 25 years. I think we started working together as bolting technicians in either late 1994 or early 1995, I think is when it happened. And we’ve done lots of jobs together in those early days as a couple of young bolting technicians, and then later on in our careers, we just evolved into different directions in the same space. So I think if memory serves me right, Colin, I was even an usher in your wedding from what I remember, back about 24 years ago. Well, your memory lasted longer than my marriage. But yeah, how could you forget that? No, yeah, definitely go back a long way. Very fortunate to be able to call you a friend. You know, there are certain people that you run across in the industry that, you know, I mean, you and I don’t talk an awful lot. But when we do, it’s always meaningful. And you know, you’re one of the people that I have in my world that it doesn’t matter if we go, you know, 10 days or 10 months without speaking, it just kind of gets picked up right back where we left off. I agree on a percent. It’s a really strange thing. But some people you just have a relationship with that, your friends, even if you don’t talk for a couple of years, and that’s actually a really good thing. Let’s dive in a little bit and talk about Kanturk. I remember when you started the business, but you know, our audience is in Cloud Landia, and this will go around the world, and you know, either two people or 10,000 people will hear it. So let’s tell everyone who is Kanturk.

Colin Livingston 3:40

As of now, we’ve gone through a lot of evolution from the first day that I started the business in the year 2000. Kanturk is now a manufacturer of industrial torque and assembly tools, torque tension, and assembly tools. We’re based here in Edmonton. We have all of our engineering done in town. Our machining is done in town, then we assemble and test everything by ourselves in my office here.

Don Cooper 4:09

Okay. And you’re distributing those products on a national scale, North American scale, global scale? What’s your coverage?

Colin Livingston 4:19

The majority of our business right now is national, but, you know, being a manufacturer, we’re getting a lot of interest, and I’m spending a lot of time working on adding international distribution. We have some specific markets right now like UAE and the GCC that’s top for us. We’re working on a couple of distributors in the US right now, and then we’ve got a fairly good stranglehold on offshore wind turbines in Europe.

Don Cooper 4:51

Okay, I have a few colleagues who are heavy into offshore wind turbines in the North Sea that I should hook you up with. And when you mentioned distribution in those markets, do you sell direct to customers as well?

Colin Livingston 5:12

Outside of Canada? No, we just go through distribution. I mean, you know, in an area where we don’t have coverage, we don’t have a lot of choice. But yeah, I mean, because our evolution started when we started the business, we operated as a distributor. And we’ve got people that I’ve dealt with personally or through the company for almost 20 years. It’s tough to go back to our good accounts and say, “Hey, I know you’ve treated us well over the years, but now you need to go through Joe’s tool shop.” We do a mix, but we’re really careful to protect our distributors, to make sure that the end-users don’t ever get the same price as a distributor or even an infrequent distributor, that we protect those guys domestically. It’s kind of confusing, but, you know, we’re working on standardizing through distribution. It just takes a long time.

Don Cooper 6:02

Sure, yeah. Tell me about the history of the company. You mentioned you started in 2000. How did it start? How did it evolve? You know, tell the audience what you’ve been doing for 20 years.

Colin Livingston 6:16

Well, your memory’s probably better than mine. I don’t remember half of what I’ve done over this period of time. But, you know, realistically, the truth of the matter is, I got fired from my last job. And that was on October 26, 2000. And I’ll never forget the date. I was a salesman/sales manager. I represented all of the offices in Western Canada for a particular company. I had shown up to work that morning, and the president of the company was waiting in my office at my desk and informed me that my services were no longer required. I didn’t have, you know, essentially, I didn’t have a pot to piss in, if I can use that kind of lingo on your podcast, isn’t it?

Don Cooper 6:58

This is an industrial podcast, and I don’t think it’s G-rated. We don’t need to layer on too much profanity, but I don’t think anyone will be offended.

Colin Livingston 7:08

So yeah, I left. Let’s just say that I was lacking a place to expel urine. Yeah, I didn’t have any cash, didn’t have a whole my… We had one son at the time. He had just turned a year old 10 days before that. We were just over a year into our first mortgage, and now I was unemployed. So there was, you know, I want to say that there was a moment of terror, but it was kind of an instant motivation where I didn’t have a vehicle. I didn’t have a cell phone. I didn’t have anything. And yes, back in the year 2000, cell phones were invented. I think we were still carrying pagers at the same time, but probably a big phone. But I don’t know, we might have to throw up a graphic so people know what those are. But because I didn’t have my own vehicle, I was driving a company vehicle. One of my, I’ll call them my technicians, although I was no longer employed by the company, offered me a ride home. I made a quick stop at a payphone, called my prime supplier at the time and said, “Hey, you’ll never guess what happened. I got fired.” Which is kind of funny because now that I’ve had almost 20 years to go through all these things and talk to a number of people, my former prime supplier was actually one of the catalysts for cutting my legs out from underneath me. I stopped, I mean, you know, my father-in-law, I stopped and talked to my father-in-law who operated a very successful automotive manufacturing business, Don Campbell of Campbell Automotive. And I said to him, “You’ll never guess what happened.” Because I mean, I was, without sounding arrogant, I was a rockstar within their business. I was the youngest guy, I was the highest-grossing, or the highest-profiting office with the highest total profit percentage. We made more money on the amount of sales that we did than the offices that did three and four times our volume. That being said, you know, Don looked at me, not you, Don, my father-in-law, Don looked at me and said, “What are you going to do?” I said, “I know what I did to get to this point, I think I’m going to try it on my own.” And, you know, somehow, 20 years later, we’re still around and kicking, right?

Don Cooper 9:23

And when you first started, I remember those days, you weren’t the manufacturer, you were effectively a distributor, right?

Colin Livingston 9:33

We sold everything. Like I was recounting this story to somebody the other day at lunch, where in the beginning, it would have been ideal to just focus on torque wrenches and focus on bolting tools, but we didn’t have a big enough customer base. And, you know, we just weren’t deep enough into it to make a living and to survive. So, I had pretty good kinships with a handful of my customers that I said, “Hey, listen, I’m on my own. If there’s anything that I can do to help, let me know.” And in the early days, and I’m not exaggerating, I’m not making any of this up, I sold Makita grinders, I sold little pistol grip impact wrenches, I sold like two kilometers of welding cable. Now, if you showed me a sample of five different types of cable, I can’t tell you what not-to-welding cable is to this day. But I knew somebody at a company that was willing to sell to me on credit, and I had a customer that was willing to buy at the number. And in the beginning, it was about survival. Unfortunately, things went well enough after, you know, say about 18 to 24 months that I was able to kind of get rid of the accessory stuff and really just focus on bolting tools.

Don Cooper 10:53

You know, I think about this a lot because you and I have had similar journeys in terms of being employees and realizing that we weren’t wired for that. And, you know, I won’t go down the journey of marriages and divorces. Those are all lessons that we all need to learn. I think I’ve told Wyatt and his colleague, Brennan, you know, the advice I give my kids is don’t get married till you’re 35 or older, and you’ll figure out who you are and what you want, and you won’t make the mistakes of your father. Because it took me until I was in my mid-30s to find the right relationship that was, you know, will be a lifelong relationship. And the ones before that were what is one of my coaches, Dan Sullivan, from Strategic Coach, says that his first two marriages were practice marriages so he could figure out how to get it right the third time.

Don Cooper 11:52

I’ll go on record and say that I have the very best ex-wife in the entire world. Leanne, and I still get along great. There’s a real funny story there. But it doesn’t really apply to this. But you know, again, memories not so great. But I remember back when we had our first marriage is that you and I couldn’t have been told anything. So it could have been the exact right piece of advice. And you and I would have gone on we wouldn’t listen in those days. But you know, I guess wisdom is wisdom is learned through mistakes, right? I wouldn’t change a thing. I mean, I’m the same way you learn from it. And we both got wonderful kids because of it. So Gotcha. So we’re going to talk about torquing the tensioning now, it’s likely that most of our audience has some idea what technical bolting is, and torquing it tensioning. But you know, there’s also people who are subscribers who, who joined our podcast because of other technology, and they just want to learn more. So why don’t you tell us about torquing your tensioning, and then particularly dive into a little bit of the various torquing products that you’re focused on.

Colin Livingston 13:04

First of all, you know, we’ve been, you know, manufacturing, I say that in quotes, because our first go-around was working with a subcontractor or working with somebody who was already going down the road of manufacturing, and then they private-labeled for us. So we really didn’t have any input into how the wrenches were built. But they started saying cam torque, which was really big, it was a really important lesson that I had to learn the hard way, which tends to be my modus operandi that I’d spent a lot of time branding for my former supplier, I spent a lot of time marketing under their name instead of the name that I had built. Once I kind of figured out that, you know, we do have a good reputation and kanturk is a brand that I’m very proud of it, it was an evolution. So what we do now as of today is we make basically two types of torque wrenches. We make what’s called the square drive torque wrench, so it’s a hydraulic power tool that uses impact sockets to tighten and loosen a variety of fasteners typically about as small as three-quarters of an inch up to virtually any size. As of now, I’ve got nine and a quarter inch sockets on my shelf as well as 225 millimeter sockets and we have tools that will turn all those. And then we have a low-profile range for people who are more focused on the weight of wrenches or they have a smaller access gap to fit a tool and we make those from as low as about 100 foot-pounds up to about 45,000 foot-pounds. So, you know, I’ve got a tool on paper right now that’s going to be over 100,000 foot-pounds, but I’m just going to make that to say that I have the biggest wrench.

Don Cooper 14:57

Yeah, my, you know, at my heart, I’m a bolting technician, although I haven’t operated a torque wrench retention or in a lot of years, but that’s, that’s my foundation. What I can honestly say is I don’t ever want to use a 100,000 foot-pound torque wrench. I’d rather tension it or have someone else do it.

Colin Livingston 15:20

Yeah, I mean, which is great. And I would rather supply a five or a six-inch tensioner. But as you know, a lot of cases have, you know, installations with short fasteners or

Don Cooper 15:32

there’s a lot, there’s no, there are probably 100 times more applications out there that absolutely need a hydraulic torque wrench because they were never designed or set up for tensioning. And so the versatility of a torque wrench versus the size-specific of attention or just gives us more flexibility when you’re not set up potentially. So 100%.

Colin Livingston 15:55

And the good thing is, now that we’re in the positions we’re in, we don’t typically have to operate the tools anymore, we get to have people do that, or I’m fortunate that I just get to supply them and other people operate them. So

Don Cooper 16:06

I don’t know that I’ll ever go back and jump on the tools. I think the last time I was on the tools on a shutdown was about 2013 or 2014. And that was more out of choice because I just wanted to do get back to my roots. And I spent the spring on shutdowns. And it was fun. And that’s, you know, it’s where I cut my teeth, right? But yeah, I got other people who do that, and they love doing that. And I just tried to create an environment for them to be successful now. So

Colin Livingston 16:38

yeah, I was lucky, I got to go back. And, you know, through an industry friend of mine, they were working on a really strange application for a piece of mining equipment. And it required, you know, we had to go through with a little bit of hydraulic torquing, and some ultrasonic measurement to validate a bolting process. So through the testing we did in his shop, and then at the customer’s location, I got to shake some of the cobwebs out and try and re-familiarize myself with ultrasonics.

Don Cooper 17:11

I would say I’m probably better on bolting theory than on bolting practice these days, I would guess most of my team would consider that I’m the old-timer now and I might hurt myself or, or at least just forget how to do it with the most modern, the most modern accepted procedures that we deploy today. So I’ll leave that up to my team, they’re 1000 times better at it than me so. So, you know, you, you talked about distribution and about branding. But you’re now a manufacturer, walk us through that journey, how you switched from, you know, from I guess white-labeling someone else’s product to going through the journey you had with coming up with your own designs? And why?

Colin Livingston 18:00

Well, yeah, I mean, the way things, the way things ended with our prime supplier was not ideal. I’d rather avoid that part of the conversation. But what was on the wall, you know, we had an opportunity to move into a lateral line but have our own name on a ranch. The problem we had was that the quality of the tools just wasn’t our standard. And, you know, to compound the problem now it had my name on it, right? So, you know, it’s something I take seriously. The problem is, you know, we live in a really instant society where people want their information. Now they want solutions. Now they want absolutely everything at the snap of a finger. But when it comes to developing wrenches, or to analyze issues or, you know, implement improvements, it takes a long time, you know, to sit down, try and analyze why something failed. Is it a material issue? Was it a procedural issue? Was it a bad design? Was it bad manufacturing, trying to figure that out takes a long time. And then you have to implement a solution or a proposed solution, you have to prototype that solution. And then on and on, and on. And on it goes. The relationship we had with the second company lasted about two and a half years. We were then connected with somebody else who was into the road of manufacturing tools. The relationship worked well, but we had a bit of a language barrier. They were overseas in Europe, they were great at machining, and we were great at supplying the tools, but neither one of us had really made these things. And again, the lessons learned and the development that it took was quite costly and really time-consuming. It was say about four or five years ago, we got introduced to a local engineering firm and internal load Cool, you know, set of machine shops that really cut down our production time and really increased our level of communication because we were now able to come up with a drawing on a computer here in town, bring it to the shop, get them to take a look at the design at the same time. Yes, this will work. No, it won’t. Are you might want to look at this? And, you know, since we consolidated everything here in town, everything has been I shouldn’t I can’t say it’s been smooth because we’ve still had some design revisions that we had to make, we’ve found out a lot, we have a couple of really high-volume users, you know, that they can generate a lifetime’s worth of use in under a year, they run in real-time they run 10 to 12 hours a day. And now it sounds like they’re expanding their operation. So the site and all their wrenches do is break things apart and put it back together all day aside from break. So they’re really our prime proving ground. But that’s also like in racing, you know, once again, I have a bit of an affinity for, you always look at your weakest point, and then keep improving from there. And that just moves the breakpoint somewhere else. I mean, no matter what our competitors say, wrenches are going to break, we cannot build an indestructible wrench because no matter how good we make it, there’s always going to be somebody out there that’s going to find a new way to break it. But we’ve spent a lot of time on weight savings, increasing speed, and simplifying the tools. And we’re really starting to go in a different direction than most companies go. I’ll speak to the whole idea that people, you know, the variety of manufacturers in this space will talk about their tool being unbreakable or it lasts forever or it lasts for a long time. And, you know, there’s only two things that are true about hydraulic torquing, from my perspective as both a technician and an owner of a lot of torquing equipment. And that is all you really need to understand is at what point can you expect it to break? Based on how often you use it? And how expensive is it going to be to fix when it does break? And, you know, that comes down to those are all design and testing things? And you know, I know every wrench is going to break? And is the wrench going to explode with 5000 parts inside? Or is it a good robust, simple design that is repairable and, you know, repairable in a way that isn’t going to, you know, cost you 90% of the capital cost for the tool to begin with. And, and, you know, I’ve seen every manufacturer out there, and there’s only a few who have figured out the cost-effective way to maintain when things break. And some of the biggest players out there on a global basis. I really do believe that their designs are created to drive revenue on replacement parts.

Colin Livingston 23:02

Yeah, I can’t speak to other manufacturers. But I mean, since day one, it’s been company policy here that, you know, regardless of what the warranty states, if we supply a tool and it fails for any reason at any time, whether it’s a genuine manufacturing defect or somebody drove over it with a detent will always provide a loaner tool for a company to use while theirs is getting fixed or replaced or what have you. Because industry standard until we really came up with that was you break a tool, then you either had to buy a tool or you had to rent a tool. So while, you know, the company who sold you the tool is renting you the tool, there’s no incentive for them to get the tool up and running in any kind of timely manner because they’re making money on rental. Right, we always have the incentive to get the wrench up and running and something we continue to this day if a tool breaks for any reason, all we need to do is get a phone call, we provide a loaner tool then we work on fixing or replacing and then get that back. Get our tool back. So, you know, again you mentioned the expense of having a tool down the most expensive thing of course is downtime and we work hard

Don Cooper 24:13

I love the fact that, you know, certainly, you know, whoever owns the tool after they buy it needs to foot the bill on wear and tear maintenance and repair. But the fact that you put skin in the game to give them loners when you’re getting their tools back up and running. It does create that right level of alignment with helping them get back up and running because everyone has the same incentive to get that torque wrench owners’ assets back in their hands and producing the way it should. So I think that’s awesome skin in the game and alignment is really key for strong relationships. I believe that wholeheartedly. Let’s talk about applications for a little bit. So, you know, we’re talking about square drive torque wrenches, we’re talking about low-profile torque wrenches, direct fit torque wrenches. What are the kinds of customer applications that you’re primarily seeing with your client base?

Colin Livingston 25:08

It’s a question I get a lot. Here, we always get, you know, because people don’t really understand what we do from the outside, whether it’s bankers, lawyers, you know, accountants, people that happen to come through the shop for any number of reasons, they associate us as an oil and gas company, which we don’t make oil or gas. We’re an industrial solutions provider. So we work with industry. I can’t say that we have a common application because we work from wellheads, service rigs, drilling rigs, to pipelines, midstream operations, gas plants, refineries, power generation, you know, across the board through marine applications, telecommunications companies. There is no, you know, there is no common, I mean, obviously, here in Alberta, we have our big industries revolve around energy. And, you know, our big and frequent users now are typically wellhead, wellhead, VOP, companies, you know, contractors, companies like innovator who go out into the field and need to use tools. And in a lot of cases, we have no idea what our wrenches are used for because, you know, they go to a company like innovator, where we don’t necessarily know what’s going on unless, you know, they get into a bind to say, like, we don’t know how to react to this, we need a custom boot, we need a custom arm or something like that. So, you know, without sounding, you know, like, I mean, I don’t want to sound arrogant at all, a lot of times, we’re getting to the point that we’re too big to know what happens on a daily basis. I love knowing what’s going on. And I would prefer to get, you know, 1000 emails a day of people asking questions before they do something incorrect, then, you know, getting the phone call afterwards to tell us that our wrench is a piece of garbage, and it broke on site. And you know, now we have all this downtime.

Don Cooper 27:01

Right? So, you know, just as a bolting guy, you’re a bolting guy, you know, lots of different use cases. But you know, hydraulic torquing, there are industrial fasteners, critical bolted joints, it could be a piping flange, it could be a pump base, it could be a BLP, it could be structural steel. It’s where you have an industrial bolted connection that requires controlled and often significant amounts of torque to tighten those to very specific required bolt loads. And that can be many, many, many different types of industrial bolted applications. And, you know, you and I’ve worked on mining draglines and reactors and wellheads and heat exchangers. And wherever there is a bolt and a nut and it needs tightened. You know, that’s where you come in, right?

Colin Livingston: 27:59

Yeah, I mean, you know, the misconception is that everything we do is oil or because of our affiliation with some of our sponsorships and racing affiliations, that we provide the tools to tighten the wheel nuts. We don’t. We offer a calibration program to our friends in the NASCAR pin T series. So when the western swing comes through Alberta, and the teams have their torque tools, we’ll pick them up and calibrate them for them and give them back before the next race. But yeah, I mean, it’s literally anything to do with a threaded fastener. You know, we get into some things, you know, we still distribute some products. So we can tighten, like a watch down to three-inch ounces of torque up to the biggest fastener. I mean, our specialty is on the heavier side of things than the smaller side of things. But we still have mechanical torque wrenches on the shelf that go into tire shops, and we still have some larger mechanical wrenches with multipliers for people who are happier doing things by hand than they are by power. So it’s not for us to say what the best kind of tool is. We have a number of solutions at various prices that work at various speeds, and then it becomes up to the customer to decide what’s best for them.

Don Cooper: 29:12

All right. I’m gonna pivot a little bit, and you mentioned NASCAR, and you’ve sort of alluded to your passion for racing. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in that space? I know it’s not directly related to Ken torque, but you are a sponsor in that area. So just, I haven’t talked to you about what you’re doing with racing for a couple of years now. So, you know, give everyone a little bit of a spiel on that real quick.

Colin Livingston: 29:40

I’ve always been a fan of racing. I started watching racing as a kid. Nobody in my family knew anything about racing. You know, nobody around me knew anything about racing, but I distinctly remember as a single-digit age watching both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, which were the only two races that we would get on TV. And I’m sure my parents wanted to institutionalize me because why would you want to watch cars driving around in circles? But there was something about it that just captivated me from the first time I saw it. Then, you know, through my in-laws, they were drag racers, and they started bringing me to the track as we started dating. So I was, you know, I was a really eager but very uneducated observer that wanted to help, but I didn’t really have any mechanical aptitude to do anything more than, you know, put wax on a rag and shine down the dragster. But as my racing aptitude diversified, I really started to get interested in NASCAR, and I really got interested in open-wheel racing, which at the time was CART, Champ Car, IndyCar, and Formula One. And I would go out of my way to watch as many races as I could, you know, start to finish, the pre-race shows, the between-the-races shows. It wasn’t until I actually got into a race car and operated anything until I bought my first go-kart, which looking back at some pictures the other day was about 12 years ago. So we started racing go-karts in Fort Saskatchewan at a track called Strata Tech. And then shortly thereafter, I got involved in sponsorship. So my first outside-my-family sponsorship was with a gentleman named James Van Dotzler. They ran in what was called Cast Car, which is now what we call the NASCAR pin T series, you know, stock car racing, basically. We did a small sponsorship with them around the Edmonton race, which ran during the end. And then eventually through that, we got introduced to, you know, Alex, take the Annie, who I became a sponsor of when he was still running IndyCar. And you know, Alex and I have formed a really good friendship, and as of now, we still show up as a sponsor on their car, but that’s not really what I do anymore. I’ve actually moved into the role of a spotter for Alex. So, you know, for people who don’t know, spotting is the guy who stands up on the top of the racetrack and talks to the driver. In a stock car, you can’t see basically outside of what your visor allows. You’ve got a mirror that will give you a little bit, but you’re so restrained, and your helmet is actually affixed to what’s called a HANS device or any of the other head-neck supports, that you can only turn your head about 15 degrees in either direction. So as you’re trying to make a move, you’ve got a car in front of you, you want to pull out to the outside, you can’t put on your signal, take a leisurely shoulder check, and pull out. You need the spotter to tell you whether you’re clear or not. So that’s what I’ll be doing with Alex and all the races in NASCAR this year. But I’m still very actively working as a driver. This winter, I took on a new challenge. I’ve got a new go-kart, which is called a shifter kart. And I’ve been running in the Challenge of the America series. So I’ve done two races already in Tucson and in Fontana last weekend. And I’m getting ready to do the last of the series in Sonoma here at the end of the month. It’s been brutal to try and learn how to drive this car, even with 12 years of experience running at a moderately high level of club racing. I’m back to being a rookie. I have no idea what I’m doing in this kart. It is more physical and more busy than I can put into words.

Don Cooper: 33:31

And you’re not 22 anymore.

Colin Livingston: 33:36

No, I am not. Just why. You know, when I did the first race in Tucson, I got a decent idea of what I was up against, and I had been training through the winter. But I felt what was wrong. I felt where I needed to improve. And there were 18 days that I was home from the race in Tucson until Fontana. I was in the gym 14 days out of 18. Since I’ve been back, I’ve done five out of seven workouts. When I get to the hotel tonight in Vancouver, I’m basically going straight to the treadmill just to make sure that I have enough cardio and enough strength so that physical limitations are not going to be what holds me back. I’ve set up test days, and yeah, I have no delusions of being competitive at this last race, but I closed the gap from getting lapped in all the finals in Tucson to staying on the lead lap in Fontana. With some specialized coaching that I’ve got lined up, I think I’ll be able to stay with the pack at Sonoma. Although again, I don’t have any delusions of being competitive, but I’m really trying to do like spring training so that when our club season starts, I’m really ready to go. And with your work with the NASCAR side with Alex, how many races is he racing, and how many are you involved in?

Don Cooper: 35:03

I’ll be at every race, pending a major conflict with work. So we compete in, I think it’s 13 races this year. There’s a doubleheader in Saskatoon in July. So we do two races in one night. We race in four provinces now. So the majority of our racing is going to happen in Ontario. We do, I believe, three races in Quebec, two in the doubleheader in Saskatoon, and then we race in Tuscawilla just outside of Edmonton.

Colin Livingston: 35:35

Cool. I won’t chase you around the country, but let me know when the Tuscawilla one is in aisle. I haven’t been to a race with you since you were sponsoring during the end, I think, right?

Don Cooper: 35:45

Yeah, it’s a different experience. But what’s really cool about the track in Tuscawilla is it’s only a quarter-mile. It’s a very, very small oval, and we put, you know, up to I think we’ve had up to 24 cars on the track on a quarter-mile oval. So there is no break for those drivers at all. But if you’re in the worst seat, the so-called “worst seat” at the very highest part, the farthest point away, you’re still on top of the action. Like there isn’t a bad seat. The drivers are super accessible in the pin T series. So there’s like an hour-long autograph session, you can meet every driver, get your autograph. It’s a really cool program. It’s definitely smaller scale than what Indy was, but Indy was not accessible. You really had to know someone or be a really big sponsor to get to those guys. Our series now is really about the fan experience.

Don Cooper: 36:40

Nice. Nice. So I’m back to talking now, pivot back away from racing and get back to your passion and back to what pays for the passion. And they’re all passions, but well, you know, some of them, you need to pay for it somehow, right? What’s the what are the economic conditions? I just want to talk about, you know, why torquing, why customers should really pivot in that direction and smart, really more justification around the concept of technical bolting, in general. And then to pivot a little bit and talk about your method and your technology, particularly around maintenance and what that looks like, your methodology there in keeping people running besides the loaner piece, but the way that you’ve designed the tools to keep this as a really good ROI for customers?

Don Cooper: 37:45

Well, I mean, the first thing is, you know, almost everything I’ve learned in business came from my father-in-law. One or two things I’ve picked up on my own, and I’ve had a number of really good people around me since I happened to accidentally get hooked into this industry. But he’s got an expression that says if you don’t have the time to do things right, what makes you think you have the time to do things twice? And that’s a lot of what our world is about. Historically, hydraulic wrenches didn’t exist, tensioners didn’t exist. Even when you and I started as kids, we had these god-awful, all-steel, 5000 psi boat anchors that were slow, heavy, and prone to failure. But they were still better than what came before, which was a hammer wrench or an impact wrench and a 20-pound sledgehammer. So a lot of our technology and innovation has happened over the 25 years that we’ve been around. When I have to recognize the developments of our counterparts, especially companies like High Torque, well, they are our big competitor. We can’t ignore their contributions, and companies like that figured out how to move away from all-steel construction and start enclosing components to make things a little bit safer. They then started working with more exotic materials, getting into things like aluminum and titanium and some of the exotic alloys and exotic steels, which has helped reduce the weight of the wrenches. But there have been increases in speed, moving from 5000 psi pumps to 10,000 psi pumps. That was a major game-changer way back in the day. But our philosophy is pretty simple. A lot of companies focus on gimmicks and marketing, whereas our focus is the exact opposite. We’re working on the user experience. We want somebody to grab our tool and, first of all, we want it to feel good in somebody’s hand. It’s something that isn’t really tangible until you do it. And even when you do it, you don’t necessarily know what it is that you like about the wrench, but you just know you like it by looking at it. We’ve simplified the design of the tool. In reality, now internally in our hydraulic component, it’s a housing and a piston with three seals, and that’s all there is to it. Until we got to our latest design, it was almost unthinkable for a customer to be able to take a wrench apart or put it back together again because if there are stream seals inside or there are springs or other mechanisms inside, we don’t have that. You can take our tool apart with a pin punch, which is required to drive out a split pin that holds our sliders. A combination wrench will take the end plug out and a little punch and a hammer knocks the piston out. And that’s it. So the maintenance is very straightforward. Seals are going to fail, but other than that, there’s not a lot else that can really go wrong anymore. In the last generation of the tool, we’ve seen speed increases of between 30% to 50%. The wrench itself doesn’t actually do anything. The wrench’s speed is a function of the pump flow and how effectively we can get oil in and out of the wrench, and more importantly, how the oil comes out of the wrench than goes into the wrench. That was a major focal point for me. But yeah, again, it used to take about 20 minutes to 30 minutes to assemble a wrench. In that same amount of time now, the most I’ve done is 20 wrenches in 30 minutes as I do them in a production line. And yes, I still get my hands dirty, and I still put the tools together as we develop the assembly procedures. So yeah, where we’re at right now with our stuff is a light-year ahead of where we started. It’s up to customers to decide if our stuff is any better, though.

Colin Livingston: 42:12

Right. You know, you said a couple of things here that made me nostalgic. I had totally forgotten about 5000 psi pumps. But I remember having lots of those and how I always wanted, man, if I just had another 2000 psi, I could get this range open. And a close head CQ wrench, you know, where we were only able to turn half a flat per stroke and have to take essentially a hammer wrench that could weigh 60 pounds, physically take it off, reposition and put it back on, and then have exposed hydraulics like the actuator had to manually be placed. If I tell you no, I mean, my son actually works here. You know, you’ve got, you know, at least in the past, you’ve had your son involved in the business. If I show the kids in this office how we had to do it, they would think we were crazy. And it was a lot better than what we had before that.

Don Cooper: 43:12

Yeah, I mean, the CQ wrench that you mentioned, just for our listeners, was effectively a hydraulically pushed hammer wrench. And we were trying to move those, we had to calculate the torque based on pump pressure and fulcrum length of the wrench. And we were moving, you know, a degree of a turn with each stroke of that tool. There was no ratcheting mechanism, I remember. And these things weighed a lot. But I remember just looking forward to just getting a basic steel body ratcheting square drive because it was just going to drive productivity so much. Interestingly, you know, you’re talking about 25 years ago, I just released my first book, and it’s called “The Turnaround Optimizer Process.” And it just talks about how to, you know, an eight-step process to plan and optimize execution on turnarounds. Bolting is one part of that. But I talked about in that book how, you know, my first shutdown that I ran was at a local refinery. And in those days, I managed 54 bolted connections on the entire facility. You know, today, some major operators have very, I would say, sophisticated bolting specifications, and they’re met and they’re managing the bolting on tens of thousands of bolted connections after a facility. But 25 years ago, it was really critical, you know, what they deemed at that time to be high-pressure, high-temperature reactors and heat exchangers. And the reason was the technology, the bolting technology at the time, wasn’t super productive. It was great at accomplishing the bolt loads needed to keep the seal on those joints, but it wasn’t super productive.

Colin Livingston: 45:03

And it wasn’t accepted. It was new, and people were reluctant to try that. That’s how we broke in. We said, you know, on this critical man, we, on this critical reactor, use these tools. At the same time, I mean, I remember those shutdowns where we would have an ultrasonic, you know, extensive meter in a case, and that the whole package weighed like 30 pounds, and it had a little three and a half-inch floppy disk and a dot matrix printer. And you had to carry that thing up hundreds of feet to get to the top of a reactor, where nowadays, you know, the equivalent, if it’s in your pocket now, it will fit in your jeans pocket as it sits. It’ll measure nowadays, you know, the old analog processors, we were limited to about 24 inches, and that was in the full size, you know, SM two. Nowadays, we can use the little version. It’s not a lot bigger than an iPhone. And we can measure up to 50 feet with the right transducer and the right configuration. So yeah, I mean, in a relatively short amount of time, the evolution has really come a long way.

Don Cooper: 46:11

Talk about how customers outside of technical bolting, like, what’s the traditional method? I would say technical bolting is now the tradition. But you know, do you see customers who are not leveraging your technology or the generic technology? And what does that look like?

Colin Livingston: 46:32

There are a number. Yeah, I mean, in the beginning days, we were working a lot on introducing the technology, and we had to spend a lot of time teaching people about why a hydraulic wrench or a pneumatic wrench or any kind of power tool was going to offer savings versus impact wrenches and hammer wrenches. For the most part, that’s where our starting point is now. Now, in a lot of cases, we just need to show what makes our tool different from what they’ve been getting, whether it’s a level of service that we can offer, quicker availability, or whatever competitive advantage we have. But it’s scary to walk into some shops where they’re still happy to use hammer wrenches. I mean, you know, when, again, if people don’t know, it’s literally a hunk of steel, like a combination wrench but made out of impact-grade material that fits on a nut, and one guy holds the wrench, and another one hits it as hard as they can with a sledgehammer. Not any means of control, extremely slow, and just extremely dangerous. We see it. We have an application that we’re working on right now in town, where I would rather not mention the company’s names because I don’t want to embarrass them. But if you’re an international company We’ve got to protect the guilty.

Colin Livingston: 47:57

It’s not, I mean, if I mentioned the name, people know who it is. But it comes down to contractors and application of rules. But in a gearbox, there’s this really small 19 millimeter Allen head bolt that holds a whole gearbox in place. And the spec says that you’re supposed to use a certain level of Loctite. What the operators, the original installers, have done is take the whole bolt, dip it in a bucket of Loctite, and then install it, which is ridiculous. The procedure says if you can’t get this out with, you know, the other thing that makes it complicated is it’s recessed into joint 10 inches. So you need to put an extension on which has a lot of torsion. They had two guys standing on the end of a four-foot snipe. And all that was happening was everything was bowing, everything was bending. Yeah, no movement at all. This is an international multibillion-dollar company that still has this level of uncertainty in their bolting program. The delicate thing is to be able to address the situation without making them feel like a bunch of schmucks or making them feel guilty because something was put together incorrectly. We can come up with solutions for that using a power tool. In this case, we’re going to supply them a battery-operated nut runner with a custom reaction arm so that the load is consistent, even if there’s torsion in the extension that we supply. Eventually, we’ll overcome that. But yeah, these are things that happen every day, no matter how well a joint is designed. Somebody will find a way, you know, potentially. I don’t want to sound too negative. But you know, there’s always someone that will find a way to make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Don Cooper: 49:42

Things have gotten a lot better. But you know, I still see clients who don’t understand the difference between bolt load tension and torque, and they will make mistakes, particularly with torquing, where they don’t understand how they should calculate the torque based on, you know, whatever frictional forces that are likely to occur. So I had one major pipeline company who had a bolting specification that said that they needed to torque all of their bolted connections to 50% of yield. Okay, so they were confusing in their written specification. They were confusing tensioning with torque. And because of that mistake and the way that they were writing it, someone had decided to look at the coefficient of friction on whatever the antiseize they were using. And effectively, they were calculating the torque at 1/3 of what it should have been. So they actually had a contractor and even within their maintenance teams, a culture where they believed hydraulic torquing didn’t work because every time they hydraulically torqued to their written spec, it leaked. And then they would use impact wrenches to get it to hold a hydro test. And that had nothing to do with hydraulic torquing. It had to do

with the wrong specification because someone didn’t know what they were doing when they were calculating bolt load tension and torque to actually accomplish what they were trying to do. It’s a really funny story, but they actually paid me. I gave them that free advice by just looking at their spec. And I told them what they needed to do to change their spec. But their engineering department wanted proof. So they paid us a significant amount of time to come do studies with torquing, using an ultrasonic extensometer to prove the elongation, to show them that what I told them for free was actually happening. So I guess they paid for my free advice. But there are still a lot of clients out there who make some of those mistakes because torquing and tensioning are two different methods to accomplish a bolt load. And if you don’t understand their uses and how to calculate it, you can make some pretty simple but catastrophic mistakes in your program.

Colin Livingston: 52:24

Yeah, I mean, 100%. Obviously, I’ve got torque in my company name. You know, we’re called Can Torque. We make hydraulic wrenches. And I spend as much time telling people that torque doesn’t mean anything as anything else. If torque is applied correctly, it can be a very effective way of putting things together and taking them apart. But it’s not, there’s absolutely no way to prove torque is 100% accurate. I mean, it just simply isn’t because there are so many intangibles that you cannot determine. It’s better than impact, it’s better than a hammer. It is even, but it’s not really accurate. And that’s just plain truth.

Don Cooper: 53:11

It’s an indirect method to accomplish what you’re actually trying to accomplish, which is a bolt load, which is actually a particular stretch on the bolt that creates a stress in the bolt that’s appropriate for the joint. And torque is indirect. And if you calculate the torque wrong, I’m not talking about should I use 1000 or 2000 foot-pounds, I’m talking about how you estimate the frictional and torsional forces that are going to happen in your situation that takes into account lubricant, but it takes into account all the standard conditions that are happening in that bolted joint, like what you mentioned with your client who was using snipes and were getting all sorts of torsion and bending and deflection, all of those things were basically taking a ton of torque and converting it into not enough load to release the Loctite that they had put on there. And that’s the big, big difference.

Colin Livingston: 54:22

Yeah, I use analogies because for most people, even our experienced users, a couple of things happen. Customers in general are either ashamed or protective to admit when they don’t know something because if you open yourself up vulnerably, if you become vulnerable, especially to a salesperson, the natural instinct is that the salesperson will exploit and take advantage. It works the opposite with us. If somebody can tell us that they don’t know what they’re doing, then we can help explain it. I don’t have an agenda to sell a particular thing. I don’t have… Our company slogan is “Problem Solved.” We are in the business of solving problems, and if we can’t solve a problem, we walk away from the order. But the analogy is that, and we use this quite frequently, tension is distance. So if you want to think about driving your car, I can tell someone, “How do we get to your house? Or how do we get to my house?” “When you get on Yellowhead Trail, you have exactly 23 kilometers until you get to Range Road 14 or Range Road 20, or whatever the Range Road is, you turn in this direction, you get on this road, and eventually, you get to my house.” That is precise. And that is exactly how you get there. That’s tension. If I told somebody to leave Edmonton and drive for 20 minutes and then make a turn, where do you get to in 20 minutes? Well, if you drive really quickly and don’t have traffic, shit, you could be able to walk in. If you drive really slowly and have a lot of traffic, maybe you don’t even get out of the city of Edmonton. That’s really the equivalent of torque because you have too many things like new studs versus used studs, not just the type but the amount of lubrication that a person uses, how hot something gets, how much load, there’s a million terms that you can throw into a torque scenario. In general terms, torque will work to keep things together as long as you have the right tooling and use the right procedure. The load that gets applied to a fastener, in my opinion, is not nearly as important as making sure that every fastener in a joint is loaded at the same level. If all the fasteners are doing their job, if everyone is at the same level, the expansion is going to be uniform, and the contraction will be uniform. It’s where we have this inconsistency around the fasteners where you can really have some problems.

Don Cooper 56:43

You know, you mentioned customers not wanting to be vulnerable, or a salesperson could take advantage of them. And that’s actually why we’re doing this show. It’s education, so that customers, potential customers for us, for you, for all of our guests, have another mechanism to learn so that they can actually feel better, right? Bring them on, we want them all. Yeah.

Don Cooper 57:07

So let’s dive a little bit deeper. Let’s talk about safety, productivity, cost-effectiveness. Those are three core deliverables that we always try to improve for our clients. Can you talk about your company and your range of products relative to safety, productivity, and cost-effectiveness, and what you bring to the market?

Colin Livingston 57:36

Absolutely. In our first couple of generation wrenches, we had a lot of issues with sealing. So people need to understand that when we talk about these hydraulic systems, whether they’re low-profile hydraulic wrenches or square drive hydraulic wrenches, most people don’t really know what’s going on with the majority of things. Going back to what we talked about before, the wrenches we use today are still nothing more than hydraulically operated hammer wrenches. They’re glorified for sure, we call them torque. Because we use a certain criteria, we measure the surface area of our piston, we know how much pressure we put there, we know the force at a distance, and can accurately convert that into a torque number. When I came up with the NSA, I worked with a number of people when our latest generation wrench came out. One of the long-standing issues that we’ve seen from a number of manufacturers is rod seal failure. Over time, the seal fails, and the wrench will leak. And when it gets to that point, you can often replace it with a single seal. But over time, it just won’t seal anymore. And I came up with an idea to fix that. When I started doing testing, I ran the wrench through normal operation, connected it, calibrated it, and then did a series of load tests to see what happens to the tool over time. And the wrench performed great. But what I wanted to know is what happens when people do things incorrectly. Customers will not always tell you that they made a mistake. They’ll bring the tool and say it doesn’t work, and then I’ve got to work like Matlock to go backwards or like Quincy to find out what happened. You’re aging us with Matlock and Quincy references.

Colin Livingston 59:27

I don’t watch any real current TV. Probably I don’t know CSI. Is that a thing anymore? Why do you know what Matlock and Quincy are?

Wyatt McPherson 59:36

Detectives? Basically.

Don Cooper 59:39

You probably know what Law and Order or CSI is, right? Yep, I got that. Matlock was the ’70s and ’80s version of CSI and Law and Order. Alright.

Colin Livingston 59:51

Yeah, they basically take an end result and then have to work backwards to find out what caused it. Well, that’s well done. That’s what I ended up doing. So one of the tests I did, and I mean, I did this on a weekend when I was in the shop by myself. I didn’t want anyone else around in case something, you know, when I expected something to go wrong. So one of the things with a hydraulic wrench, one of the common mistakes that people make is that they either don’t fully connect, or they simply don’t connect one side of the tool, depending on what couplers they use. If they’re push-lock or screw-type, sometimes they don’t screw them all the way in, or they can loosen off. And if you don’t push and fully engage, you lose the connection. If you get your retract connected, but not your advance, really nothing bad can happen. You hit the pressure, you know, you really shouldn’t pressurize a disconnected fitting, but for the most part, nothing in the wrench is going to go wrong. If you only connect the advance and don’t connect the retract, that’s when the world goes sideways because now you’re taking the way the tools are built and the way they’re designed. They take pressure on the piston, but not really on the rod. They don’t want to take pressure on the front side of the wrench, right? And what you do in that situation is by applying pressure to the back of the piston and having nowhere for that oil to go, you create a massive amount. You multiply that pressure by many times on the front of the tool.

Don Cooper 1:01:18

You’re creating a bunch, you’re creating a massive amount of differential pressure that the tool is not designed for.

Colin Livingston 1:01:24

And we’re talking, sometimes, you know, 10 to 15 times more pressure than what the tool is intended for. I did that on purpose because as I was testing the wrench, I couldn’t get it to fail. So what I did is I disconnected the retract cord, I put a plug on the retract cord, and I started hammering it. And I was hammering it at 10,000 psi. I would hammer it multiple times. And then I would hold the pressure, and I’m expecting this thing to let go. And it wouldn’t. And I got pissed off because I wanted to see where the weak point was, does the housing fail, does the seal let go, nothing happened. I took my tool to the back shop where I have my tensioning setup, and I connected the tensioning pump to my torque wrench just by the advance port. Now, honestly, I ran a real long feed hose and I hid behind a cinderblock wall. That’s a lot of pressure.

Colin Livingston 1:02:18

It’s a lot of pressure, but there’s not a lot of volume. Yeah, you know, if the tool fails, it’s going to bypass, but it’s not going to explode. I set up GoPro cameras in my test cabinet, so it’s plexiglass enclosed, it’s blast-resistant. And I sat behind and watched my pressure gauge. And as my gauge got up to 20,000 psi, which is double the practical operating of the wrench to begin with, and definitely not to be done in any circumstance, I finally saw the pressure start to drop and I got happy because now I could find out where the weak point was going to be. I checked the wrench, and it was bone dry. I took a look, there was nothing wrong with the wrench whatsoever. I had to take my GoPro cameras, I ran up to my office. I didn’t run, I could probably run now, but that was a couple of years ago, and I wasn’t so fond of running. I plugged everything in, and what had happened was because I was in such a hurry to test the wrench, I didn’t swap any of the couplers over. And because hydraulic wrenches in North America run off of NPT threads, all that happened is once we got to that 20,000 psi, the taper of the thread just deflected enough that the oil bypassed between our swivel and the coupler. We hit it out of the park with this tool. I know if I put anybody else’s tool through that same test, it’s going to fail, and we were able to successfully run our tool. So as far as the safety of the wrench goes, I have no worry at all.

Don Cooper 1:03:54

Awesome. So on the topic of wrenches and pressure, I’m going to touch on a pet peeve of mine. Someone who owns hundreds, thousands, probably millions of dollars’ worth of torque wrenches. Let’s talk about oil and basic maintenance.

Colin Livingston 1:04:19

Again, I relate everything to other things. Your first rule, keep everything clean. It’s exactly the same as a car. If you don’t wash your car and your body panels start falling off, you can’t take it back to the dealership and say there’s an issue with this car. You’ve got to keep everything clean. That may sound like a superficial thing, but it’s very practical because whatever you get on the end of a coupler, whatever you get on the end of a hose, whatever you get on the end of your pump, the first place that’s going to go is inside the tool. And in the fight of grit, whether it’s aluminum, steel, or the material of the seal, the grit always works. Dirt always wins, and it’s going to groove your cylinder, it’s going to cut your piston, or it’s going to shred the seal. Changing the oil is obviously important, just like in your car. Over time, I can say without hesitation, hydraulic wrenches are the most abusive thing to oil that I’ve ever seen. What we do with hydraulic wrenches, compared to lifting cylinders or tensioners, is like there’s no use in those compared to what we do. We’re taking a small volume of oil and firing it back and forth every few seconds under extreme pressure. And in the case of our tool, and most tools, the oil goes through a number of reductions because the inside diameter of the couplers to the hoses is different. We go through either uni-post, a swivel, or something. There’s almost no direct connection where that oil stays in one direction. So by changing direction, by changing diameter, we create all kinds of friction. Just running a pump at idle, you can generate enough heat that you can almost not touch a tool, and that’s not specific to us, that’s hydraulics. So the heat is brutal on the oil. It will break it down and essentially turn oil to water. Now, when we do that, it becomes really resistant to building pressure. It doesn’t want to work anymore. If it gets dirty, whatever happens in that reservoir goes through the tool. And no matter how well we build the inside of the wrench, we can make it out of torque alloy, we can come up with a proprietary alloy just for torque wrenches, it’s still going to groove, it’s still going to engrave either a piston or the cylinder, it’s going to chew seals. So yeah, absolutely without question. The similarity, though, between automotive and torquing is that we can’t provide an interval. We can’t say after this many hours, this is when you need to do it. The only thing that we can add is as needed. You’ve got to have an attention to your stuff. And you’ve got to have a bit of an understanding of what your company does and what your application is. So that you know, every two weeks, maybe that’s when you need to do it, every two months, every six months, it depends on use and it depends on condition.

Don Cooper 1:07:30

I mean, basically, and that’s really why I wanted you to talk about it. Keep everything clean, change the oil often because it’s $30 worth of hydraulic oil or a $10,000 wrench. And it amazes me how many people, including in the industry rental equipment, many of my own people, the oil is filthy or the equipment is filthy. They miss the point that all the grime gets into the wrench and creates all that internal erosion. And the minute that you start getting hot oil, it breaks down. And whether that’s every 20 hours, every 50 hours, check the oil. If it ain’t clean, change it regularly, often, always, and keep lots of it around and change it often because if you don’t, you’re going to have $10,000 boat anchors.

Don Cooper 1:08:37

Well, you didn’t invent the expression, but you were the one that I heard it from first: “Tripping over dollars to save nickels.”

Colin Livingston 1:08:46

Yeah, that goes back, you know, 20 plus years. And you’re right, whether you have to send it to a company like ours to do it, we charge $100 an hour for labor. We put the oil in, we take the oil, we dispose of the old oil, but we also crack the rest. We don’t just dump it and fill it. We always crack the reservoir and make sure that it’s clean. We take a look for any obvious wear or issues.

Don Cooper 1:09:09

Another great point. It amazes me how many people will dump the oil out and leave a half-inch of grime in the bottom of the pump. And all that’s doing is instantly making your new oil filthy and continuing to damage your equipment.

Colin Livingston 1:09:24

Yeah, we’ve got, well, with our wellhead industry, we’ve got a number of customers who initially would use their torque pump to do hydro tests on wellheads. Now, wellheads are often filled with a product called invert. Now, if you asked me what invert does, I can’t tell you because I’m not really a wellhead guy. But we would get pumps back with, like, an inch of this vile, putrid, evil garbage that would end up displacing all the oil in the pump. And then eventually, it would cycle through the tool. And they couldn’t figure out why the wrench was having problems. We took, you know, they finally sent us everything back. Okay, well, there’s, there’s ancient mud in the bottom of your pump. Why? Why? Well, we use it for hydro tests. Like hydro test? For like $2,000? Where are you using the $6,500 pump for that?

Don Cooper 1:10:16

It’s funny. I’ve never heard of someone using a torque pump for a hydro test. That’s interesting. I guess people will always improvise, and not necessarily in the best way. It didn’t say not to do it. So,Yeah, exactly. It’s not about what to do. And so, you also talked about this a little bit. Just so I don’t want to go too much deeper into this. But just tell me a little bit of the story on the R&D path to get you where you are today.

Colin Livingston 1:10:52

Just like life, everything has been, I shouldn’t say everything because now the mindset is different. But how we really did all of our development was through failure. We find a problem with a housing, when we switch from steel housings. I’ll go back even further, steel housings for us, steel elements in torque wrenches are a perpetual nightmare for us. We knew what materials to use, we knew what certain components need to be made out of. What we didn’t know was heat treating procedures, and heat treating is the bane of my existence. Heat treating is beyond complicated because you can’t just say, “I need this piece of carbon steel heat treated to 35 Rockwell.” There’s a whole, like, anybody can get to 35 Rockwell.

Don Cooper 1:11:48

So the ramp-up rate, it’s so great. It’s the cooling period, every, you know, to get to a certain hardness but…

Colin Livingston 1:11:56

The hardness, do you want a case hardened? Do you want it through hardened? Do you want this characteristic? Do you want to maintain ductility? Do you want it like, it never stops? We were fortunate that, you know, through our machine partner, they have a customer that has spent well in excess of $1.5 million on their heat treat program. And they analyze something like, I don’t know, upwards of 50 different materials, like all kinds of grades of steel. And then with each grade of steel, went through umpteen different heat treat procedures. And we had a number of problems, especially when we were doing our first offshore wind program. That is one of the most brutal applications of a hydraulic wrench that you can come up with because we’re taking tools right to their limit and need to perform like 10 hours out of a day or in a 24-hour day, they’ll run 20 hours. Trying to come up with something that will withstand that kind of load is beyond challenging. But, you know, I digress. Trying to maintain tolerances in the steel housing for a low-profile tool, you know, because what happens is, the procedure is that you take its raw state, which is already hard, you do the majority of the machining, what we call soft turning. It has to go out for heat treating, but heat treating deforms the material. There’s always going to be a twist and band expansion and contraction. And then we have to hard turn it. After we hard turn it, then we still have to maintain the tolerances. And it was impossible. I shouldn’t say it was impossible, but it was just really, really complicated, took a long time. And we had to leave so much extra material to withstand the heat treat load. When we switched everything to aluminum, all that went away. And, you know, we’re able to essentially, if we didn’t have to, we really don’t. But if we didn’t take the time to anodize, we can start with a block of aluminum, machine it, and have a finished product that performs far better than our steel counterpart. That was really the majority of our R&D to get to where we are now. Now, everything is about trying to find little tricks or little improvements. Like I said, we’ve worked a lot on reducing weight. We’ve worked a lot on increasing speed. And, you know, the test that I give is we take your wrench of any brand, of any make, with your pump, nothing that we did, nothing trick. We run your wrench, we take it off, we put on my wrench on the same pump, and we’ll show that there’s a speed difference. Now, our next, like, we’re kind of done with our current generation of wrenches, square drive, and the low-profile are done, where they’re at. All the new ideas I have are going to go into a completely unique, completely new tool, which I’m not even going to put a timeline on because knowing what the problems can be, I don’t even want to guess.

Don Cooper 1:14:53

Well, that was actually my next question. And I’m not sure how much of your ideas or where you’re going you can share without disclosing everything. But where do you see taking your product line? What’s the future?

Colin Livingston 1:15:05

We’re going to keep working on the same things. The new generation wrenches, again, they’re all theoretical right now. But I have a number of conversations every week with my main engineer and the engineering team, just kind of jotting down the thoughts as I have them, looking at where our issues are, where we can make things better. I mean, the simple thing is, our philosophy remains the same, that we want to make wrenches easier to use, and we want to make them last longer. Whatever we can do. There are a couple of stress points that we have in the tools that I don’t like, and they’re there. For lack of a better term, they’re inherited. We started with a base design, and we’ve kind of moved in a different direction. But there’s a lot of things that I want to start doing with ratchets, there’s a lot of things I want to start doing with the drive mechanisms, and then how the tools fit together. Without giving away too much, that’s really what we’re going to be doing. We’re still going to have to maintain our original inventory. We’re going to have to serve the tools that we’re still selling for a lifetime, going forward. Yeah, the new stuff is just, it’s going to be unlike anything that’s ever been made.

Don Cooper 1:16:15

But from when we’re talking about safety, productivity, cost effectiveness, lighter weight is safer, for a lot of reasons. But, you know, from a user experience and reliability, it’s both productivity and cost effectiveness. So those two sort of core principles, in terms of where you’re going, how that might take 10 different versions over time, but it’s the kinds of things that clients are going to want, right?

Colin Livingston 1:16:40

Well, I mean, as an example, we had an issue with you guys. And it’s not like, like we didn’t have a problem with Innovator, but we had a problem present itself with a tool that you guys were using that led, you know, over time, you know, I was actually thinking of you guys when I said that, you know, customers want answers kind of immediately. And where we couldn’t really give the answer that was satisfactory, it actually led to a complete design change of the wrench and how it fits with the actuator and how it fits with the wrench. And, you know, that became a reality because of our experience with Innovator.

Don Cooper 1:17:15

I often say to my team, you know, it isn’t experience and 20 years of doing it that makes that brings value. And, you know, because if you had 20 years of success, you really didn’t learn anything. But I, you know, wisdom and value, as you said earlier, comes from I learned, I’ve learned a lot in 20 years from a lot of failures. And I’m glad that I’ve been able to help you identify a few of those.

Colin Livingston 1:17:41

If that’s the flip side of that, is I’ve made enough mistakes that I should probably know everything by now. But it seems like, you know, the more we learn, the more we understand that we don’t know, which is kind of stealing from Confucius. But, yeah, I mean, we’re pretty excited about the future. I’m really happy that our production is now to the point where it’s predictable. We know what we’re doing, we know how to make a side plate, we know how to make a ratchet, a drive plate, we know how to make them better. You know, operationally, we’ve improved. You know, honestly, we’ve got to work on our documentation a little bit better. That’s my, like, administration is not my forte. I would rather come up with an idea, get it implemented, and get it into the machine shop, and worry about how our operation manual looks. But it’s all important. And as we do more business outside of Canada, you know, we have informal business in Canada and in the US, we’re not really worried so much about training. We want to know that a person can be proficient. Once we start doing business in Europe, in the Middle East, the documentation and the certification and the trades, it’s unbelievably difficult. And it’s also very conflicting because in one method, they’re saying we need this end result. Okay, well, you need to use this. We can’t use that. Why? Because it’s not in the spec. But it’s going to do exactly what you want it to do. We’re going to decrease your installation time, we’re going to increase your productivity, we’re going to do all these things. No, we can’t do that.

Don Cooper 1:19:22

We had an interesting situation where our set of isolation and test tools were partnered with a European engineering firm. We had exclusivity for their range of tools in Canada and the US. In Europe, they had another partner who worked with an international oil and gas company and got their distributor’s name listed as an approved product for our use of textbooks. Since it was the distributor’s name and not the manufacturer’s name, we had to go through the entire documentation process and local engineering review with them to get the same tool approved. They have due diligence to do in terms of documentation. What I will say about all those kinds of things, and what I’ve learned from my personal coach, Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, is a philosophy that has really helped me. I’m not a documentation guy. I score four out of 10 on the Colby profile for liking to do that kind of stuff, which means I prefer someone else to do it. As Dan Sullivan says, “Who, not how.” You need to find the WHO to take care of that.

Colin Livingston 1:20:43

The problem is I still have to tell the “who” what to do. And we still have to improve the way it looks. If I flip my camera around for people who’ve never been in the office, here, we have a very unique presentation. And I won’t say anything more than it’s unique. Some people walk into my office, and they love it. And some people walk into the office and they hate it, which is fine. In both cases, we don’t have to look like somebody else. Your office has personality, I can say that.

Colin Livingston 1:21:13

We don’t want to be confused with anybody else. We, you know, again, people are either going to like us or they’re going to hate us. But I don’t ever want to be compared to some other company.

Don Cooper 1:21:22

Well, we’ve got about 15 or 20 more minutes before you have to make your way to the airport. Let’s pivot now and dig into frequently asked questions that you get from customers on a regular basis. You know, the top 10 kinds of things that people normally ask. That way, we can provide the answers before they even need to ask. So, you know, what’s the price?

Colin Livingston 1:21:48

Well, that’s always a great question. If that’s the lead question we get, it’s not somebody that we want to deal with. The price doesn’t encapsulate the things that you were talking about. It doesn’t encapsulate whether the tool is safe, if it fits, or if it will fit their application. It doesn’t address how we support it when it fails. We’re probably the only company that advertises the fact that the tool will fail at some point. A lot of wrench manufacturers tell you that they made an indestructible tool, but we try to get across all these things beforehand. We ask a lot of questions to our customers, including their budget, because if they want to spend $1,000 on something that we can’t sell for less than $7,000, I’m happy to answer questions, but we’re not going to come to a resolution for you.

Don Cooper 1:22:45

Right. I mentioned my turnaround optimizer book, and I’ve actually just received my second book back from the editors. It’s called “The Industrial Sales Solution.” The first chapter in my book is about a tool called the value pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid, which is the lowest form of commoditization, is level one: “What’s the product, and what’s the price?” You know, that can be $2,000 or $10,000, depending on how you measure it. But neither you as the supplier nor the customer are actually getting value. That’s why it’s called the value pyramid. The second level on the pyramid is called customer experience. That’s when you start to feel how we do business, how we take care of customers, how we test, and the way we deal with loners when something fails. That experience has nothing to do with the manufacturing price. It starts to get more into the relationship and trust. The next level of the value pyramid is outcomes. It’s about what you can expect to accomplish when you’re working with Kanturk, when you’re working with Innovator, and you’re working with their products and services. Outcomes provide a much higher level of value. And beyond that, you’re really getting to the top of the pyramid, which is sort of the gold area. It’s about being a strategic partner and bringing insight and help to customers in accomplishing things that are different. When it comes to price, you have to calculate in those different levels of value. I’m currently producing a video series where we’ve tested a whole range of test tools, isolation, and test plug tools. We found that there are cheaper tools, much cheaper tools on the market that most of the industry has spread out there. You’ve got a whole bunch of distributors. But we found that those tools may accomplish the pressures that customers want to achieve, but they take four or five or even ten times longer to get the job done. So if you’re going to save 20% on the rental price or the purchase price of that test plug or torque wrench, but it takes you four times longer to get the job done and it might not even get it done, are you really getting any value? As you mentioned with your father-in-law, Don Campbell, who is a very experienced entrepreneur, is it worth doing it wrong? Can you afford to do it twice? I think that’s the value piece when it comes to pricing. You really have to dig in and understand, from an outcome standpoint, what are you trying to accomplish as a customer? What is the customer experience you’re going to have? What kind of partnership are you going to have with that supplier? And ultimately, they’ve got to have a strong, well-designed tool that’s going to add to that whole layer of things. That’s really how people need to think about it. I know some listeners might still ask, “But what’s the price?” The conversation still needs to come back to, “What are you trying to get done?”

Colin Livingston 1:26:07

Well, we see this, getting back to what we talked about earlier, there’s a lot of it that comes down to trust. But there’s a separate part that comes down to how a company is structured. And, you know, you probably see it as much as we do, that there are departments within larger companies that are set up purely for cost reduction. They want to approach suppliers and negotiate lower prices, which is fine. I mean, the economic climate in many industries is really tight right now. The problem I have with that is, what are you sacrificing in terms of overall value when it comes to price? We can always offer a cheaper thing, but we can’t support it the same way. We can’t offer that same safety net. But the trust piece is that I can say all the things that you just said to a customer, and I can tell them that we’ll do that. But until you’re in that situation, you don’t have that urgency to know what you’re going to do when this thing breaks. We hear it a lot. One of our power companies had an unexpected outage, and right then, the generator was costing them $125,000 an hour. So we helped them out by answering the call, even during one of my daughter’s birthdays. I had to leave the party to come in and load a tool up and then go to the power plant. The guy told me, “You know, this is costing us $125,000 an hour. Will you guys be up and running soon?” And we assured them that we would be up and running earlier than expected. That was an awesome outcome. We also encounter situations where companies don’t plan properly, where they don’t have supplementary tools or spare parts. Mechanical pieces can fail from time to time. If your job is so critical that you can’t live without it, you better have a backup. That’s why we have two lungs and two kidneys. We have spares when we need them. It’s important for customers to know that we try to be upfront. But what often happens is they think we’re trying to oversell them or fatten up our profit. Then they go somewhere else, which can be the best thing that happens for us. Over time, we’ve told them what to expect when things go wrong. Other companies, who are more order-driven than solution-driven, will take that order or offer a big discount because that’s what the customer says they want. But it’s not really what they need. And over time, whether it’s 12 months, 36 months, or five years, we end up with that customer back. It’s playing the long game, where you just have to be patient. When we were kids, I wanted every damn order that was out there. I wanted to be the biggest guy. I wanted 100%. Anything less than that was insufficient. Now, I would rather have the choice of 100 loyal customers than 1,000 generalized customers because I know that we can keep providing value and solutions to these loyal customers.

Don Cooper 1:29:21

It’s playing the long game with clients that you have a relationship with. The whole idea you mentioned about customers not planning, I wrote about this in our turnaround optimizer process because it really addresses this issue. Most customers plan the general contractor activity that says they need a torque wrench, but they don’t necessarily plan the granular nature to identify the specific assets and skills related to bolting, plugs, or fill machining. So what ends up happening is they come to you or they come to me, and they either want bolting services or bolting equipment, and they pick a wrench. But then, if something goes wrong, they have no redundancy plan. That’s why in our process, we have an ironclad Step Four called optimize and integrate. It addresses 30% to 40% of the found work activities, redundancies, and assets because you can’t afford to not have that tool and have a facility down that’s costing you several million dollars a day. Suddenly, the value of the torque wrench disappears because you just want four and you want them not when you want them yesterday. That’s why integrating and planning redundancies based on criticality and probability is crucial. What happens if your one tool fails? It creates a critical path issue.

Don Cooper 1:30:53

Yeah, in our email signature, and I don’t actually have, and maybe I probably should, but I don’t, I don’t generate quotes. And I don’t do a lot of that stuff anymore. But right in our email signature, we’ve got in bold writing, “If your project is critical, we suggest additional models should anything happen. You know, again, seals can fail, parts can break, people can make mistakes. Even if you’re in Fort McMurray, and we’re in Edmonton, best-case scenario, if you’ve got a hotshot driver on our block, it’s four and a half hours without us doing paperwork prep and all the rest of it. That is lost time simply because you didn’t have any safety net, and we can finally get that to the workspace. That’s eight to 12 hours, best-case scenario.”

Colin Livingston 1:31:33

Yeah, plus, you’re paying a hotshot driver. It’s going to cost you two grand to get a thing up to the site. It’s going to cost, you know, all this downtime. And then it’s going to take a number of phone calls where people use a lot of words that we’re trying to avoid in this podcast to say, “Well, your wrench failed? Well, yeah, sometimes they do. For the most part, they don’t. And it’s, it’s the trade-off that we get. And it’s funny because we have a particular industry that, when the price of oil goes down, they send out a form letter saying, ‘We know that the downturn of oil is hitting everyone, and we’re asking all of our suppliers for a 10 to 15% concession.’ And I get to my computer and I type up a response letter, and I said, ‘I’m more than happy, even though our tools are not dependent on the price of oil, I’m happy to offer you that concession. If you let me know where the threshold is that I can add that pricing back on when oil gets, you know, to a proper level.’ We don’t do that. We don’t. If you need it, it costs the same amount as when you don’t. If you call me on Christmas Day at two o’clock in the afternoon, the price of our tools is the same. Now, it’s probably going to cost us a little bit more to come in to prep it for you, but we’re not going to take a $5,000 wrench and charge $20,000 for it because you have to have it. We can, we can exploit that and, and profiteer, right? We don’t. We don’t play one or the other. It’s funny that, you know, in our power generation customer’s case, we got them up and running, let’s just say, 10 hours earlier. That’s $1.125 million. I didn’t get a bonus check for that. Yeah. Yeah.

Don Cooper 1:33:10

We often, when we do optimize a turnaround, we’ll do it with half the people, and it’ll be 40% less than the traditional method. And I haven’t been able to negotiate a contract yet where they give me half of those savings. Maybe that’s our new strategy. I’m not sure how well that will go. I think that would, I think what customers call that lump sum jobs, I think is what they call that.

Colin Livingston 1:33:34

We’re equipment guys. Not service guys. So we’re not in that world.

Don Cooper 1:33:38

What’s, so we got a few more minutes talking about your availability. What, how many, how many tools do you have, and how fast can people get them? What are you looking for? I don’t have that answer.

Colin Livingston 1:33:51

Okay, well, your story. Right now, we’ve got the availability isn’t as good as what I’d like it to be, but it’s, it’s bigger than what anybody else has, at least in Canada right now. In our low-profile models, we’ve got at least 25, and in most cases, over 50 of each size actuator up to our 8,000-foot pound, which is our common size. To roll over that, we’ve got, let’s see, it’s over 20,000-foot pound low-profile. We’ve got half a dozen each of our 3,600, 4,000, and 5,000-foot pound actuators wrenches. In the next week, we’re going to have a delivery of just over 200 wrenches for our 4,000-foot pound tool. And then we start new the runs on our other wrenches. Tools, we’ve got a number of those as well. That’s a lot of torque.

Colin Livingston 1:34:53

That’s on the shelf. I heard somebody else say that a long time ago too. Field crews, do you offer service?

Colin Livingston 1:35:01

No, absolutely not. We do not compete with our customers. It was a conscious decision I made day one. You know, obviously, our background is, you know, field technicians. The tendency is to get the request, you know, with the exception of a custom project that I did for a friend, you know, whatever that was six weeks ago, it wasn’t, it wasn’t field use per se. It was just, you know, help a buddy out, and it was a pro bono project. I go out to analyze projects from time to time, but no, we do not do any field service whatsoever.

Don Cooper 1:35:38

So just, just for the audience, I do offer Field Service at Innovator, so that, so you can call. What about sort of certificate training or certification training, anything like that too?

Colin Livingston 1:35:50

No, we’re not accredited in any way, shape, or form. We will always be more than happy to teach people how to use our wrenches, how to maintain them, set them up, you know, everything around our tool. But we’re not, you know, we’re not an institution like Nate, where, you know, there’s a, there’s a world of difference between how you operate a torque tool or a tensioner and becoming a pipefitter or a millwright or a boilermaker. That’s something that, you know, customers should already know how to use or know how to be certified in. We can definitely do all the experts.

Don Cooper 1:36:27

And there’s a whole range of organizations across. So for customers or an audience who are listening, you know, in North America, there is a bolting accreditation, and it’s accrediting bolting technicians to the Azmi PCC One bolting spec. Most of my technicians are accredited. And we outsource that. We go to accredited schools to get our people certified. And, you know, I view it as a certification. I don’t, I don’t deem it in our training system. We don’t deem that to mean competency. It’s a training. It doesn’t mean that they are competent to be ready to operate on their own yet. So we have another whole internal process for deeming competency.

Colin Livingston 1:37:14

It’s kind of scary, though, that, you know, you can’t operate a forklift with, you know, a forklift is essentially the same principle as driving a car. In any plant or any industrial operation, you can do something as simple as operate a forklift. But almost every organization that we deal with has absolutely no criteria for operating a torque tool or a tensioner, and it can create a hell of a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

Don Cooper 1:37:40

You know, in the North Sea, there’s, you know, there is industry-standardized accreditation for bolting practices, and people can’t do bolting without that accreditation. That accreditation happens in the North Sea. In North America, you know, the ASTM E committee has been sponsoring the accreditation for bolting credentials, but it isn’t mandatory. It certainly needs to evolve a lot. I mean, the accreditation process is like what we experienced in the early days of actually introducing the technology to go from hammer wrenches to impacts to technical bolting. And, you know, we got tons of training that was in-house training. I know all the engineering and all the calculations and ultrasonics. The accreditation training is really about tool operator training, from what I’ve seen for the most part. We’ve got a couple more minutes, and let’s talk about some things customers should ask you. What would you love customers to be talking to you about?

Colin Livingston 1:38:41

First, I would love customers to make their first question, “What happens when something goes wrong?” It’s one thing to be able to buy a thing. But what happens because most of the time, the places that our tools ended up are critical, whether they are frequent use or infrequent use when you need, you know, a tool like ours, you gotta have it. You know, there’s a number of companies that sell similar things, but still, to get access when you need it is really key. I wish that was more of a leading question than “What does it cost?” or “Do you have it on the shelf?” You know, I think our support program is as good as it can be. We’re always finding ways to add something or tweak something, but it’s kind of neat to look now. I mean, I still feel like the 22-year-old kid, you know, working on Athabaskan Avenue in Sherwood Park, not knowing my ass from a flange. I didn’t know the difference between a stud and a bolt. I didn’t know anything about it. I was fortunate that someone took a chance on me and brought me in all those years ago. But, you know, I take a look at some of the companies that have popped up, and some have spun off from former Kantork employees, and some have spun off from other people that we used to work with. And more and more, I’m starting to see the things that we came up with in the early days and things that we’ve been proponents of that now are commonplace. I mean, in the early days, people didn’t calibrate torque wrenches. There was no such thing. I mean, I heard for years, “Well, as long as the gauge is calibrated, the wrench is accurate,” which is total hogwash because wrenches and low-profile tools, the size of the wrench, the size of the drive plate is the size of the lever, and the further away from the center of the bolt you go, the output is going to change. Actuators change over time. They either become more efficient or less efficient. These are all things that we started doing from the early days, going back to about 2003 when we moved into this building, that now everyone’s starting to emulate. I see a lot of companies try and copy what we do when it comes to product range. And, you know, we don’t have a lot of really loyal suppliers. We have a handful, but for the most part, our tools are available through everyone now. Tools that nobody would have known about in the early 2000s are now available, you know, even through the big houses like Acklands and Balan. It’s just part of life. We try and offer a little bit different methodology behind how we supply and how we support.

Don Cooper 1:41:24

I mean, I would say, you know, as the technology became more popular, everyone has their hand in it, but none of them are specialists. And so they are really on the bottom of that value pyramid at providing a product which is in their catalog but not necessarily going to have the insight capability testing that you’re doing, service skin in the game when it comes to loaners. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of other pieces to this because you’re, you know, if you’re, you know, there’s a big difference between having something that you can sell and being focused on a particular area like you are. You know, it’s in the name, right, Kantor?

Colin Livingston 1:42:05

Well, we see a lot. I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of days going to customers who don’t know how to do something. They’ve got an application; they’re not sure they want to try this thing, but they don’t know how to use it. And if it’s something that we supply, then anyone can go in afterwards, see what we did and say, “Okay, I know how to build that, or I can make that thing.” But it’s very telling when, you know, we’ve got a particular customer in a particular location—I don’t want to badmouth anyone—but they’ve got a supplier across the road from them. And when I walk in, like, “Why are we here? Because you’ve got XYZ across the road.” They don’t know what to do. If we gave them the solution, no problem, then they would try and knock it off and try and copy it. But, you know, having over two decades of practical and field experience, there’s value to that. And, you know, I don’t charge any more for the wrench. If it’s a $5,000 wrench, it’s a $5,000 wrench. And if we need to put a $1,000 accessory on it, then that’s what it is. But there’s $10,000 of value in knowing how to do it. And that’s another expression that Don gave me a long time ago, is that you’re not paying a doctor $10,000 for his time; you’re paying him $100 for his time and $9,900 because he knows what to do. That’s where the value is. And, you know, it’s quite telling. We’ll lose accounts from time to time because somebody comes in with a cheaper thing. But then there’s no value there. You got something that, you know, if that’s your lead point is to offer something for less money, you don’t really have a lot to offer. It’s tempting, and sometimes people will go down that route. And I can’t blame them because, you know, if you’re talking about a $10,000 thing that somebody wants to sell for $8,000, what do you have to lose? But then you can’t get it supported. And, you know, we’ve actually had to start going the route of doing like development permits and, you know, engineering or, pardon me, purchase orders. So when we come up with a solution for something, we’re getting paid for that part of it. We’ll credit that if we get the order, but if somebody wants to take our solution and hand it over to somebody else, we’ve already got paid for the innovation there. It’s a hard lesson to learn because I wanted to believe if we took care of our customer, they would take care of us, and that’s not always the case.

Don Cooper 1:44:35

And that’s why, you know, you’d rather have those 100 customers that are loyal, that you work with and build long relationships with than the 1,000 that are transactional, right? You know, I heard a story recently, and it was a little bit telling. It involves a hammer and not a hammer wrench. So there’s a wealthy businessman driving through a small town, driving a Rolls Royce, and it breaks down as he’s trying to get to a very important meeting. And he’s able to hobble his vehicle into a gas station into a mechanic shop. And the mechanic says, “Well, I can help you.” And he opens the hood. And he has a quick look, and he listens a little bit. And then he takes out a hammer and he hits the engine in a particular place, and the engine fires up. And the businessman says, “Well, how much do I owe you for getting my vehicle going?” And the mechanic says, “$500.” And the businessman says, “$500 to hit my engine with a hammer? That’s ludicrous.” He says, “No, it’s $5 for the hammer; it’s $495 to know where to hit it.” And that’s the 20-25 years of being a specialist in a particular area. And it has nothing to do with the SKU code on a particular tool.

Colin Livingston 1:45:59

Oh, and I mean, you know, I don’t know the answer to everything. And I don’t have the solution to every problem. You wouldn’t have said that 20 years ago?

Don Cooper 1:46:07

Well, to be fair, not to you, but a little bit of experience and a little bit of maturity. I’ve got a great support network with a great engineering firm. So even if I can come up with maybe, you know, a great idea, we’ll run it past our team. And, you know, we’ll prove it before we put anything into production. You know, a guy we used to work with a long time ago said, you know, “I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I’ve got a lot of intelligent help.” And, you know, that’s I’m not afraid to say when I don’t know something, but I can look into it.

Don Cooper 1:46:39

Yeah, I used to think I knew everything. And then I realized that that was wrong. But what I have learned is to surround myself with great people and not have all the answers but be able to ask great questions. And that gets really creates a lot of collaboration and a lot of value. Look, we’re going to keep you from getting to your travels. I think we’ll wrap things up. This was Colin Livingston from Kantor. Con. If people want to reach out to you, how do they call you, and how do they find you on the web?

Colin Livingston 1:47:13

The office number here is 780-436-2000. We’re also easy to find on our website, www.cantorque.com, which is c-a-n-t-o-r-q-u-e.com. I can be found at colin@cantorque.com, or you’re more than welcome to call me directly on my mobile at 780-974-7474.

Don Cooper 1:47:37

Awesome, thank you very much, Colin, and that’ll be a wrap for this show. And catch us on the next episode, folks. Thanks for listening.

Wyatt McPherson 1:47:44

And there you have it. We truly do hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Industrial Innovators Podcast. If you’d like to find or reach out to either of those on this episode, you can find Colin’s company, CanTorque, at cantorque.com, and you can find Don and his company at innovator.ca. Please don’t forget to leave a rating; it helps us a lot. And please be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Thank you so much for listening again, and we will see you next time.

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