Nortrax Inc., a John Deere company, has cemented its position as a construction and forestry equipment dealer in the Ottawa marketplace with a new location, new building, and a team committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience.
General manager Luke Sheppard, along with his staff and leadership team, is the driving force behind delivering this exceptional customer experience.
Sheppard came to Nortrax through a journey that began in a small mining and logging community in central Newfoundland. After completing business and engineering education in Ottawa, he spent time in southern Ontario working for a forestry equipment manufacturer as a design engineer. Before coming to Nortrax, he spent the last 10 years living in the U.S. working for John Deere in engineering and operations in Dubuque, IA. While in the U.S. he also completed his Masters’ degrees in engineering and business.
Sheppard says his team is focused on combining transparency with a commitment to customers. He also is committed to his ultimate responsibility to the team he supports. That responsibility includes recruiting the right people for the right jobs, training them to ensure they succeed and then helping them develop in their chosen career path. The total branch team numbers 33 and is comprised of five parts associates, six sales professionals, 13 factory trained technicians, four service support personnel, and five administrative staff. The team will continue to grow to meet customer demand.
The current leadership team is backed by almost 75 years of combined industry experience. Sheppard has 15 years of industry experience and 12 with Nortrax/John Deere. Parts manager, Betty Blackstock, has 30 years of industry experience and more than two years with Nortrax. Service manager, Pascal Brousseau has 17 years in the industry, all with Nortrax. Sales manager Chris Taylor has 17 years in the industry and nine with Nortrax. “This team has experience ranging from machine concept, design and manufacture, all the way through to sales, service, and parts support. New staff have been and will be specifically selected for the contributions they offer to the team and the company’s clients.”
That internal focus on selecting the best and ensuring they succeed, he says, is integral to the success of the company overall and to redefining the customer experience the team is working to achieve. “Taking input from the staff and feedback from customers, we have defined our response times across all of our areas of business.”
He says customers can expect a response time in the parts department of 15 minutes or less, to have a field technician dispatched within four hours, or to have machinery into Nortrax’s shop within 24 hours from the time a customer call is received.
Nortrax’s new location and expanded facilities will be key in achieving these goals. Constructed by Argue Construction on 16 acres, the 33,000 sq. ft. facility includes a 6,000 sq. ft. parts department, 6,000 sq. ft. showroom, office and training room and an 18,000 sq. ft. shop. An additional 3,000 sq. ft. on the second level is available for future office expansion. Situated at the intersection of highways 417 and 7, the new site provides easy access for Notrax’s clients who span a territory of 45,000 sq. km. reaching from Maniwaki in the north to Algonquin Park in the west, Kingston in the south, and Point Fortune in the east. Nortrax Ottawa supports a variety of customers who own a single piece of equipment all the way up to fleets of 20 or more.
The new location is the first of its kind in North America and will be used as a template which will be rolled out and scaled as necessary in other markets. As John Deere continues to invest in its dealer base, buildings similar to that constructed in Ottawa will begin to appear elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. A recent ground breaking ceremony for a new Nortrax facility recently took place in Merrill, Wisconsin.
Nortrax’s 6,000 sq. ft. parts department contains more than 9,000 parts on the shelf in Ottawa. Parts fill is reviewed and the onhand inventory is updated daily to reflect customer demand. “Our goal is to have the part you need, in stock in Ottawa. If the part isn’t in stock, we can tap into our John Deere parts distribution network and in most cases, have the part here for you by 6:15am the next day.”
In addition, the stock of Bomag and NPK parts has been increased and is continually assessed to determine which parts customers most often need.
Sheppard says the 18,000 sq. ft. service shop is large enough to accommodate production- class heavy equipment and “boasts some pretty impressive stats” including 20 ft. by 24 ft. overhead bay doors, two 10-ton cranes, a bulk oil distribution system, 11 bays and a wash bay, and all the tools necessary to service any type of John Deere construction or forestry machine like the new 944K hybrid wheel loader.
With 12 of the 16 acres developed, Sheppard says staff members are very aware of their immediate neighbours, and plan to be good neighbours themselves.
“Part of our land includes a habitat for the at risk Blandings Turtles. McIntosh Perry Consulting Engineers conducted an early assessment before we began to build on the site and provided us with great resources to make us aware of the species and what we need to do as part of our operations to protect them, as well as the flora and fauna in the area.”
Besides supporting the environment this way, the building has been designed with south facing windows to take full advantage of natural light and warming sunshine through the winter months. Other features including in-floor radiant heating. Forced air supplementary heating and air conditioning also provide energy efficiency.
At the May grand opening, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said: “I am delighted to be part of this official opening, alongside Councillor El-Chantry. The opening of this new facility is a clear indication that Ottawa continues to be a great place to do business and that our city continues to benefit from both new construction and infrastructure renewal.”
Defining strategies for customer service and energy efficiency throughout the branch has also included a focus on safety and a defined safety culture and protocols. “We set the foundation for each of our 33 staff members to be safe and then ensure they are appropriately trained so they continue to work safely. Safety is our number one priority.”
He says “the proof is in the pudding – the Nortrax Ottawa team has an outstanding safety record, with nearly 1200 days without a lost time injury.”
Behind the scenes, the new location has also equipped employees with all of the tools Sheppard says they will need to deliver what customers expect, to provide a great experience and to meet the expectations of clients for Nortrax to serve as a true business partner. “We have the right people in the right seats, trained to do the job and backed by an obsessive focus on customer service that our customers will notice. We have the parts, the service and sales response, technology solutions and a committed team. We are poised for growth and ready for business.”