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March 29, 2005 7:51 AM CST

Vincent Dequoy Keeps His Eyes on the Future

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In 1993, at the age of 28, Vincent Dequoy launched Dequoy, Expert Conseil Inc., a small engineering firm that designed and inspected scaffolding systems for various industries. One of his customers was Hydro Mobile, a privately owned Canadian mast climbing work platform corporation. Dequoy worked several years steadily improving its quality, capabilities and safety. Three years later, his passion for the design turned into a new occupation when he decided to invest in Hydro Mobile and join the company.

Hydro Mobile's revenues jumped from $712,290 in 1994 to $22.6 million in 1999, earning it a spot on the 2000 Profit 100 for Canada's fastest growing companies. Also in 2000, Dequoy became the President of Hydro Mobile to lead it into the 21st century.

The Past
Hydro Mobile and Bennu Innovation, Inc., another Canadian mast climber manufacturer, have crossed paths several times in the past.

"The majority shareholder of Hydro Mobile during 1996 to 2000 was the late Mr. Jean Robillard," says Dequoy. "In 2000, I purchased Robillards' shares in the company, and I became one of the major shareholders. Jean left to start Bennu Innovation."

After Bennu launched its mast climber, Dequoy claims that several technical features on the Bennu model were taken from the patented Hydro Mobile M Series. As a result, Hydro Mobile filed a lawsuit in Canada against Bennu for patent infringement. The lawsuit was dropped shortly after Bennu filed for a protection under the Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the equivalent of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, in October 2003, and later liquidated the company's assets. Dequoy stresses that Hydro Mobile did not acquire or purchase Bennu Innovation or any of the company's assets.

In 2003, the CSST ? Canada's equivalent to OSHA ? became concerned about the weight capacity of the Bennu machines. An independent consulting engineering firm is conducting a review and is expected to report in the near future.

"I'm a structural engineer, and I believe that the Bennu capacity is inflated," states Dequoy. "That's my feeling, and I'm not the only one to think that. It's not up to me to prove it, and I think the safety organizations are doing their job to really see the calculations."

The Present
Since becoming President, Dequoy has continued to change the dynamics of Hydro Mobile, making the company more effective in the competitive mast climbing market.

"In 2002, we introduced the M2, which was a new generation of mast climbers for masons," says Dequoy. "It was more flexible with the ability to move vertically without removing wall ties. We adjusted ourselves to the market, which was getting more competitive at that time. I think we surpassed our competitors in terms of quality and ingenuity of the system."

In 2004, Hydro Mobile celebrated its 1,000th sale of the M2 mast climber, as well as the 10th anniversary of the company, which has grown to be the largest manufacturer of mast climbing work platforms in North America, with over 3,500 machines sold.

As well as expanding its product line, the company has also invested in the safety of the customers and their crews. With the introduction of the Hydro Mobile University, owners of the M series or F series mast climbers can attend a three-day seminar on the proper installation, operation and transportation of their equipment.

The Future
"In October, we introduced the new P series," says Dequoy. "While the M series is more for the commercial, industrial and institutional market, we designed a new machine to address the residential market.

"Over the last 10 years, we focused on larger mason contractors. However, we now recognize that the majority of mason contractors are smaller companies and this segment represents a huge opportunity for manufacturers in the field," he continues. "We want this new mast climber to target these contractors who usually work on smaller projects and residential. So the future is to keep growing in the commercial, industrial and institutional market with the M2, and also get more tools to the masons in the residential market. That's the main focus."


About the Author

Jennie Farnsworth is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and editor. She is a former editor of Masonry magazine.

 

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