By Anna Guy
Established in 1987, Surplec Inc. offers, refurbishes, and repairs a complete line of medium- and high-voltage products and power distribution equipment.
Despite an energy production and distribution market that has become saturated with multinational electrical equipment suppliers, independent, Quebec-based Surplec Inc. is distinguished in its field by technical expertise, flexibility and innovative partnerships. Now celebrating it’s 30th year, Surplec remains ahead of the curve with the management and reconditioning of surplus medium and high voltage equipment.
Surplec works in the industrial, mining, and institutional sectors and Canadian utilities (which offers no shortage to challenging locations and environments). A world leader in the field of remanufactured and guaranteed electrical products, Surplec clients benefit from economical, timely and sustainable solutions through one the North America’s largest inventory of diversified surplus.
Founded in 1987 in the Eastern Townships, Surplec started as a supplier of electrical components sourced from industry end-of – jobs. Clients immediately benefited from shorter wait times and lower cost, as well as a network to move their own inventory. Surplec quickly expanded throughout Quebec, supplying a growing demand for electrical equipment like circuit breakers, panels, and cables, and within a decade, Surplec compiled one of the largest physical inventory supplier in the country. In 1990, the Sherbrooke warehouse opened, the first of 15 expansions in the next 30 years, including a $3 million, 10,000-square-foot facility in Spruce Grove, AB.
Not only an innovator in sales, Surplec led the way in quality assurance, becoming the first company of its kind in North America to receive ISO-9001 accreditation. “We show a willingness to take up challenges that other companies too often neglect,” says Mario Lambert, President. “We have lost count of the number of derelict pieces of equipment that have been reconditioned; thousands of rewound, sanded, repainted transformers, repaired tap changers and crossbars, regenerated oils and more,” says Lambert. “Over the last 30 years, Surplec’s contribution to the environment has been major.”
Roland Carbonneau joined Surplec in 1992, and remembers those early days well. “We started procuring surplus from contractors like Domtar at the end of their jobs; tables, breakers, everything that was left. It was a big start for us. From this, we grew, and in 1994 we hired our first technician specializing in medium- and high-voltage, Mr. Sylvain Roy. With a team of technicians, we were then able to offer the repair and remanufacturing of electrical equipment while upholding the strictest industry standards.”
Mr. Carbonneau recalls the Ice Strom that hit Quebec in 1998, which caused massive damage to electrical infrastructure all over the area and widespread long-term power outages. Surplec was able to supply 1,100 small generators—one of the biggest suppliers at the time—to help individuals get through the reconstruction time period.
Backed with the expertise Surplec has acquired with substation transformers, the company struck partnerships with the likes of Virginia Transformers and Mitsubishi—including the exclusive distribution rights to Mitsubishi’s medium and high voltage circuit breakers for Quebec. Surplec was also the first company to have mixed gas breakers in Quebec. “Mixed gas…keeps gas gaseous up to -50 degrees Celsius,” explains Mr. Carbonneau, which is advantageous particularly in the Canadian winters.
The key to 30 years of success is a “vast array of experience of distributors and integrators of new products,” says Mr. Lambert. “These partnerships have also enabled us to bring together several specialists in our medium and high voltage testing and consultation services, we have hired one of the leading figures in testing and labs management Mr. Thang Hochanh, who has over 25 years’ experience in multiple testing facilities including IREQ—all these affiliations have greatly contributed to our credibility.”
In 2007, Hydro-Québec and Surplec joined together for the refurbishing of a few thousand pole-mounted transformers on an annual basis. Surplec was a natural choice for the job, having two decades of expertise in this field. The result? More than 3,000 pole mounted transformers refurbished annually for the passed ten years, and invitations from utility services across North America for Surplec’s services.
To keep each division operating succinctly, Surplec divided its low voltage and generator operations (Surplec Industriel and Génératrices Surplec, today named SIB) and medium and high voltage operations (from Surplec HV solutions to Surplec Inc.) to differentiate between it business activities.
Completing over 1,200 products annually, the company’s customer service is the backbone of its success, says Carbonneau, which is evident in the company’s many loyal clients. With over 70 technicians on the team, as well as electrical and mechanical engineers, Surplec is a Canadian success story: quietly providing exemplary service and innovative solutions in the industry. By paving its own path, Surplec is leading the pack.