From humble beginnings to the international organization it is today, one thing has remained consistent: Finning’s reputation for service excellence.
The unrivalled customer service provided by thousands of Finning employees over time, plus our investments in developing unmatched service capabilities distinguish Finning and position us to remain an industry leader.
In 1928, a young man by the name of Earl B. Finning was working as a salesman for the Caterpillar Tractor Co. distributor in California. Being somewhat of an adventurer, he believed that greater opportunities lay in the relatively underdeveloped province of British Columbia on Canada's pacific coast. He moved to Vancouver and established a small business, selling and servicing heavy equipment.
Earl Finning's company had one unique characteristic that would distinguish it from its competitors. Unlike his competitors, he believed that parts availability and repair services were essential to machine productivity. From day one, Earl Finning's operating philosophy could be captured in the words: "We service what we sell."
Those first years were challenging, and surviving the great depression was no easy feat for a new company supplying products and services to resource industries especially hard hit by the times. Despite the challenges, the company steadily built its reputation and Earl Finning managed to secure a business loan as well as the sole distribution rights for Caterpillar Tractor Co. products and services in British Columbia. On January 4, 1933, the Finning Tractor & Equipment Company Ltd. was incorporated. The Finning name soon spread throughout British Columbia, and became synonymous with reliable products and service.
Our first branch was opened in Nelson, British Columbia in 1937. This was the beginning of a far-reaching network of branches and facilities to spring-up across the province. Over the next two decades, we won several large construction contracts and the business grew steadily. After the Second World War, came great industrial expansion — mining, forestry, hydroelectric developments, roads and pipelines. It was the beginning of three decades of prosperity for a name that came to be associated with the best heavy equipment in the world: Caterpillar equipment. This period reinforced our concept of service through a comprehensive network of branches in even the most remote areas of the province, constantly improving our contact with clients.
The 50s and 60s were good years. Major government highway, hydroelectric and defence contracts helped us to become one of the most successful companies on Canada's west coast. As industry in the province developed, we grew to keep pace. Private-sector industry in the areas of forestry, mining and construction helped us obtain a pre-eminent position in the heavy equipment field.
In 1965, Earl Finning passed away at the age of 69 years, but his family retained control of the company. By the end of the decade, annual revenues topped $78 million dollars and we had more than a thousand employees located at branches throughout the province, as well as a new headquarters and service facility in Vancouver.
In 1969, the Finning family took steps to increase the company's financial base and took Finning public. The company’s common shares began trading on the Vancouver and Toronto stock exchanges in September 1969 under the symbol FTT. This was a rare move for a Caterpillar dealership, and to this day, we remain one of only a handful of publicly traded Caterpillar dealers.
In the 70s, we entered into new areas, most importantly the manufacture of our own line of equipment, destined primarily for use in the forestry industry. Acquisitions of several smaller companies allowed us to increase and diversify our activities. We also consolidated our Caterpillar representation in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The greatest move, however, occurred in the 1980s, when we went from being a Canadian company to an international one. When the recession of the early 1980s came, the downturn hit the resource industries of western Canada hard, but under the leadership of Maury Young and new president Vin Sood, Finning not only remained in the black, but also stepped out onto the world stage. In 1983, we acquired the rights to represent Caterpillar in western England, Wales and Scotland. Finning purchased two Caterpillar dealerships in the United Kingdom: Bowmaker (Plant) Ltd. and Caledonian Tractor and Equipment Co. Ltd., which were later merged into one operation as Finning Limited. Along with the acquisition of the overseas dealerships, revenue climbed to $450 million and we now employed more than 2,200 people.
We continued to focus on profitable growth, and in 1989, again broadened our geographic base in western Canada by acquiring the R. Angus Caterpillar dealership in Alberta. We now gained the right to represent Caterpillar products in all of Alberta, and the Northwest Territories west of the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. This move would place us firmly as a key supplier to Canada's oil and gas industry, most notably our continued involvement with the massive oil sands projects of northern Alberta.
In the 90s, we continued looking for new opportunities in other countries. We saw promise in Chile, which was enjoying a period of rapid growth and stability. There were opportunities in virtually all sectors (mining, forestry, construction and fishing) and so, in 1993, Finning acquired the Caterpillar distribution from Gildemeister S.A.C., Chile's sole Caterpillar dealer since 1940. In 1997, the name was officially changed to Finning Chile S.A. Also in that same year, we acquired Leverton, the remaining Caterpillar dealer in England – we were now the sole dealer for Caterpillar products in England, Scotland and Wales.
In 2001, Finning completed the acquisition of Hewden Stuart Plc., the largest rental and related services business in the U.K., establishing us as the leader in the U.K. rental sector.
In acknowledgement of our presence in three countries, the company changed its name to Finning International Inc. on April 25, 1997.
In 2003, we expanded our operations in South America by acquiring the Caterpillar dealerships in Argentina and Bolivia. This acquisition consolidated our position as Caterpillar's largest dealer.
In 2004, we invested in OEM Remanufacturing, a component rebuild facility in Edmonton Alberta.
In 2005, Finning Canada acquired 25% ownership in PipeLine Machinery International – a new global Cat dealership for pipeline equipment.
In 2008, Finning Canada expanded its service capacity in Alberta by opening the Centre of Excellence in Red Deer.
In 2010, we sold our U.K. rental business after a comprehensive review. 2010 also marked the expansion of our U.K. operations with the addition of dealerships in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In 2012, we strengthened our leadership position in the mining sector by acquiring from Caterpillar the distribution and support business formerly operated by Bucyrus across our dealership territories. The acquisition significantly expands our product portfolio enabling Finning to now meet customers’ entire surface and underground mining needs with the broadest product line in the industry.
In 2015, we became the Caterpillar dealer in Saskatchewan by purchasing the operating assets of Kramer Ltd. This acquisition represents a compelling strategic fit and provides a platform for long-term growth opportunities, as it combines complementary capabilities, customer bases and highly skilled employees across Finning's territory in Western Canada.