History of Finning
1928 - Earl B. Finning was working as a salesman for a Caterpillar dealer in California. Being somewhat of an adventurer he believed that greater opportunities lay in the relatively underdeveloped province of British Columbia and moved to Vancouver to become a partner with Morrison Tractor & Equipment Company
January 4, 1933 - With a $50,000 personal bank loan and a staff of six Earl. Finning incorporates Finning Tractor & Equipment Co. Ltd and is awarded sole distribution rights for Caterpillar Tractor products & services in BC. Finning had "temporary" offices at 940 Station Street in Vancouver.
"When Earl Finning took over, he rehired all of us and put us on full time at our previous salaries. I don't suppose anyone could understand our feelings at this nor the intense loyalty this one gesture created in each of us. He had put everything into the company and if it failed, he was stone broke. But he had faith in the product and in us to make this tremendous gamble. I am sure it paid off in a way he could never have imagined and I hope none of us ever let him down" - Jack Rollins, one of the original 6 Finning employees comments on the Earl Finning's courage to open during the Great Depression.
1937 - Finning opens its first branch in Nelson, BC. This was the beginning of an extensive network of branches and facilities which would spring-up across the province.
1940's - In line with Earl Finning's philosophy of "we service what we sell" branches were established to take sales, parts and service to the customers doorsteps. During the 40's branches we opened in Cranbrook (1940), Vernon (1944) and Prince George (1949). Caterpillar product was instrumental in building the roads in the BC Interior and opening up this territory for expansion.
1950's - The Chiiliwack branch opens. In 1956, Finning acquired rights to the Peace River Territory and opened a facility in Dawson Creek. The branch in Terrace opened in 1957. The next two decades were prosperous years. Major government highway, hydroelectric and defense contracts helped us to become one of the most successful companies in Western Canada. 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.
1964 - Finning opens the head offi ce and service facility on Great Northern Way. This was an impressive $2.4 million dollar development and a great improvement over the Station Street location. "No one will hesitate to praise the new shops and offices for the finest working conditions possible. Servicemen no longer have to work outside exposed to the weather, or work inside in cold, unheated bays." - excerpt from The Bulldozer, March 1964.
1965 - Earl Finning passed away on July 4 at the age of 69. However, his family retained control of the company and by the end of the decade annual revenues topped $78 million dollars. Finning had more than a thousand employees located at branches throughout the province.
1969 - Finning Tractor & Equipment Company Ltd becomes a publicly traded company. This was a rare move for a Caterpillar dealership and to this day we remain one of only a handful of publicly held Cat dealers in the world. In September, 1969 common shares commenced trading on the Vancouver and Toronto stock exchanges at a price of $12.50.
1970's - Expansion to the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and internationally: In the 70s we entered into new areas, most importantly the manufacturing 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.
"Our efforts are tied to .C.'s industrial development. There is no doubt many areas in the northern part of the province are permanently opening up as a result of mining and oil expoloration and these interests and new ones will continue to develop as a result of extended railroad access" - George Kiss, Vancouver's General Service Manager comments on the expansion of Finning's Canadian branch network to 33 operations - 1970
1980's - The boldest move, however, occurred in the 1980s when we went from being a Canadian company to an expansion to the international stage. When the recession of the early 1980s came the downturn hit the resource industries of western Canada hard and under the leadership of Maury Young and new president Vin Sood, Finning not only remained in the black, but also stepped out onto the global marketplace. 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. As a result of the acquisition of the overseas dealerships revenue climbed to $450 million and we now employed more than 2,200 people.
1989 - Expansion to Alberta: 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 became the sole dealership recognized to represent Caterpillar products throughout Alberta, and the Northwest Territories west of the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. This move placed us firmly in the role of key supplier to Canada's oil and gas industry, and most notably our continued involvement with the massive Tar Sands projects of northern Alberta.
1990's – Expansion to Chile: In the 90's, we continued looking for new opportunities in other countries. We recognized the 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 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.
Finning International Inc: On April 25, 1997, in acknowledgement of our presence in three countries, the company changed its name to Finning International Inc. In 2001 Finning completed the acquisition of Hewden Stuart Plc., the largest rental and related services business in the U.K. This acquisition brought our number of employees worldwide to almost 11,000.
1999 - Finning International Inc. relocates the head office for its Canadian operations to Edmonton, Alberta.
2000's – In 2003, we expanded our operations in South America by acquiring the Caterpillar dealerships in Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay. This acquisition consolidated our position as Caterpillar's largest dealer world-wide, with over 12,000 employees in six countries, on three continents and covering a combined area of over 8,463,728 sq. km. 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 Caterpillar 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. That year 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.
Finning (International) now has about 13,000 employees: in Canada, South America, and the U.K. With a world-class reputation to support us and a world of opportunities ahead, Finning commemorates 80 years of diversification and expansion, successfully providing customers with the best equipment solutions for their businesses.
In Canada, we have grown from a single branch with six employees based out of Vancouver in 1933 to nearly 4,200 employees throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. We are well positioned for even greater success in the future.
"Birthdays are no big deal around our house....but the occasion does give me pause to reflect on the excellence with which Earl Finning founded this company and the opportunities it has afforded all of us who work here and the shareholders who have invested here." - CEO, Maury Young comments on Finning's 50th Anniversary in 1983.