Remorques CFT took the Hesse trailers in tow, so to speak.

The manufacturer of side-loading trailers for transporting bottled beverages has acquired – and taken delivery of – the assets and intellectual property of its main competitor, Hesse Trailers.

Hesse was until then a division of the Cambli group, a manufacturer of armored transport vehicles located in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

“This is a strategic transaction that is part of our growth plan, in place for several years,” comments CFT president Daniel Arsenault.

Negotiations concluded last summer. “We’d had a few conversations with them in the past, but the stars weren’t really aligned. This year, things went in the right direction and we were able to conclude a transaction that was favorable for Cambli and for CFT. »

Cambli, which retains workers from Hesse in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, finds the advantage of concentrating its resources in its main activities.

“They gained square footage and kept their workforce,” observes François Thouin, partner at Remorques CFT. “And we, by purchasing this division, are creating jobs. »

CFT, which retains both trademarks, must hire around fifteen new employees. Production tools were transferred in September from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to its facilities in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines.

“We have already started manufacturing the vehicles and this week we are starting to deliver the first of this brand,” informs Mr. Arsenault. The integration is done, production has started, everything is already in place. »

This acquisition confirms for CFT its position as the leading manufacturer of side-loading trailers in Canada. For good reason: he’s now the only one.

Remorques CFT has its origins in Garage François Thouin – the F and the T of CFT –, founded around thirty years ago.

“I started the company and we specialized in repairing heavy vehicle accidents,” says François Thouin.

The workshop quickly built a reputation for quality. So much so that Molson entrusted it with the upgrade of its delivery trucks.

“I quickly saw the potential of this market. We created the company Remorques CFT and started repairing, modifying and developing for Molson. Then Labatt arrived, then Sleeman. And so on to take us to today. »

Today, Remorques CFT manufactures between 80 and 100 vehicles and trailers per year, from small four-door roll-up boxes to 22-door refrigerated trailers.

The company, which has around a hundred employees, has devoted a lot of effort to innovation over the past five years.

“We have worked a lot on the ergonomic aspect to reduce work accidents,” says its president. “With Molson, we put together a multidisciplinary team that included health and safety people, distribution people, delivery people, mechanics, and so on. »

One of the main improvements concerns the roll-up side doors, the frequent handling of which caused back and shoulder pain. They are now raised and lowered using a remote-controlled electrical system.

Rather than hooked to the rear of the vehicle, which subjected it to uncomfortable winter weather, the auxiliary forklift is transported in a closed – and heated – accommodation, from where it is extracted using a extendable platform.

“It took the product to another level, which brings a lot of innovation to an industry that hasn’t seen any for 40 years,” continues Daniel Arsenault.

These innovations and improvements of course come at an additional cost.

“It’s a product that is a little more expensive than the others, and many companies are willing to pay for it. »

Others are not yet ready to take the step. It is to them that the Hesse brand will be aimed, “which is an excellent product in terms of sustainability, but which does not necessarily have the innovations that we have in the CFT brand”, observes Daniel Arsenault.

This acquisition “allows us to arrive at a customer and offer two ranges of products to meet their needs and their budget”.

Armed with this dual range, CFT is ready to expand its offensive south of the border.

“We prepared for our entry into the American market,” says Daniel Arsenault. Two years ago, we acquired a company in Pennsylvania. We are starting to integrate our products into the American market through this company and a representative in Chicago. »

CFT Trailers has two main competitors in the United States, where buyers are rather conservative.

“Our product is so far from American reality that we have to bring them there. For them, for the most part, distribution is done as in 1980. We arrive with a product that is truly from 2024 and it is definitely a wow. And people need to tame it. »

He has no doubt that the initiative will lead to success.

“We are not only capable of defending ourselves, but of changing the American market. »

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