Allan Equipment Manufacturing, still operating over 60 years tater
Posted on November 10, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
Founded in the potato capital of Canada, Allan Equipment Manufacturing has been around for over 60 years. What started with a single product created by a Prince Edward Island potato farmer has grown to become Canada’s largest designer and manufacturer of equipment for harvesting spuds.
The beginning of Allan Equipment Manufacturing dates back to the early 1960s on P.E.I. when Don Allan was searching for an easy-to-use and reliable potato harvester. Unable to find what he was looking for in the market, Allan decided to take matters into his own hands. He built his own machine to harvest potatoes on his farm and officially established Allan Equipment Manufacturing Ltd. in 1967.
Over time, Allan Equipment began designing other products based on customer needs, including potato harvesters in a variety of sizes, as well as windrowers that prepare crops for harvest. After growing the business to hold a vast majority of the local market in potato harvesting and handling equipment, Don Allan started planning for retirement.
Hearing that Allan Equipment was up for sale, Trent Cousins was excited by the opportunity. Growing up on a potato farm, Cousins learned the industry well and enjoyed working with the equipment. However, as a part-time farmer with other business investments, he couldn’t take on the challenge alone. So, he recruited Daniel van Schalkwyk as a business partner and they purchased the business in 2013.
With Cousins in charge of finances and sales and van Schalkwyk handling manufacturing and general operations, the pair began to grow the business.
One area of focus was geographic expansion. While Allan Equipment was a market leader locally, there were very few sales outside of P.E.I. Cousins and van Schalkwyk changed this, initially growing business on the east coast of North America and eventually across Canada and the United States. Allan Equipment now sells its products worldwide, with sales as far as South Africa and Eastern Europe.
The new owners also expanded the business’ product line. Shortly after taking over the business, Cousins and van Schalkwyk launched an electric version of its potato harvester, which was well received by the market. More recently, the organization began using robotic technology in their manufacturing facility in addition to manual welding processes. Allan Equipment now has a variety of products including crop carts, conveyors and equipment for planting potatoes, as well as blueberry harvesters and mowers. The company also sells and services other brands of potato equipment locally on P.E.I.
Today, Allan Equipment remains owned and operated on Prince Edward Island with a 120,000-square-foot manufacturing and service facility and about 50 employees. According to the company’s website, since the early ‘60s Allan Equipment has grown to become the largest designer and manufacturer of potato equipment in Canada. And it all started with a local farmer looking for a better way to harvest his spuds.
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