Gavin Semple couldn’t have known how the next 42 years would play out when he walked through the doors of grain auger manufacturer Brandt in 1972.
“I was looking for a job. I was unemployed. I was 26 years old, had a six-year-old son and I had a $300 Pontiac that I owed $300 on, so I needed to get a job,” he said.
“So I pulled up in front of the place at 705 Toronto Street here in Regina and luckily I was hired. I started travelling a territory in southwest Sask-atchewan. They gave me an old International truck with a capper on the back and a catalog and said, ‘there you go.’ ”
The company had 25 employees and $1 million in sales.
Four years later, Semple had helped triple revenues, became president and bought a 15 percent stake in the company.
Fast forward to 2014 and Semple is now board chair of the Brandt Group of Companies, with four divisions, 1,800 employees and $1.4 billion in annual sales.
Semple was recognized at Canada’s Farm Progress Show last week as the inaugural inductee in the Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council’s hall of fame. Brandt has exhibited at the show since it first began 37 years ago.
Semple said he was honoured, considering the large number of manufacturers in the province and other worthy recipients.
Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said Semple deserved the award.
“Gavin truly embodies the Sask-atchewan spirit — innovative, driven and steadfastly dedicated to bettering the community,” he said.
Saskatchewan is well known for its agricultural implement manufacturing sector. The province exported $500 million worth of implements last year.
Brandt began in Regina in 1932 as a manufacturer of grain augers, which were sold mainly in Saskatchewan but also across Canada. Today, Semple said customers include Australia, New Zealand, France, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The group includes divisions that service the agriculture, road, rail, energy and mining industries. The largest division, Brandt Tractor, provides John Deere construction equip-ment and forestry equipment.
“This is the yellow John Deere, not the green John Deere,” Semple said.
Brandt Tractor has 21 dealerships in Western Canada and five in the Maritimes.