Alberta welcomes new equipment manufacturing plant

By Lindsey Irwin | January 24, 2007
Responding to a growing North American demand for biodiesel production equipment, Dutch equipment manufacturer BioKing B.V. is set to open its doors near Calgary, 60 miles north of the United States border in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada on May 1.

President and CEO Hans van de Ven said Canadian government officials have given tremendous support thus far to the incoming family-owned company, and the factory could possibly begin production of its reactors, wash tanks, preheat systems, oil presses and other equipment in April.

BioKing is eager to get started in Lethbridge because, van de Ven said, the company has experienced overwhelming growth in the past 12 months. Web site traffic to its North American Web site has increased by 40 percent and BioKing receives nearly 2,000 emails each day, he said.

"We know there's a need for equipment in the U.S. and Canada, which is the reason we are moving there," van de Ven said. Currently, equipment costs for BioKing's customers in North America are higher to the strength of the Euro compared to the Canadian and U.S. dollars, as well as the transport costs associated with shipping equipment from The Netherlands. The costs of the same equipment to BioKing's clients in the United States and Canada, which consist mostly of farmers and trucking companies, are 20 percent lower. By locating a new manufacturing hub in Lethbridge, van de Ven expects sales to increase 10-fold because of lowered equipment costs and convenience.

Van de Ven started selling biodiesel production equipment five years ago, but he has an additional 30 to 35 years of experience making equipment in the oil industry, and has learned that good customer service is a priority with successful businesses. This - as well as the company's fast growth pace - is why BioKing offers a 60-day free-trial, full-refund period. Should a piece of BioKing equipment fail to work properly after that time, the company will send its engineers to fix the equipment at no charge.

"The reason we do this is because we cannot keep up with our orders because we are so busy," van de Ven said. "If somebody does bring back the equipment for whatever reason there is someone else who is waiting to take it right away out of my hands."

In addition, BioKing has decided to locate a smaller plant in Colorado, but is still in the early planning stages. Van de Ven said that he has at least five meetings every day with clients from all parts of the globe and would like to be closer to his customers, so in one year the company would like to see a Malaysian plant as well. "We have some pretty nice equipment designed for crude palm oil and we sell a lot in Malaysia," he said. "So, we want to have a service point there."

Lindsey Irwin is a Biodiesel Magazine staff writer. Reach her at lirwin@bbibiofuels.com or (701) 746-8385.
 
 
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