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From the Current Skillings Mining Review
Excerpts From The Interview With Mr. Lester “Bud” Fontana, Regional Sales Manager - Iron Range Operations and Mr. John D. Ward III, General Manager – Iron Range

SMR: How is the new facility in Virginia, MN going to help Joy Global meet specific need of your P&H, LeTourneau and Joy Conveyor customers?

JW: Our central location in the Iron Range and the new facility, equipment and infrastructure positions us to provide our customers with a fast response to their parts and service requirements. Our new facility and equipment were designed/selected to make our service and repair services as efficient as possible.

LF: The new Joy Global facility consolidated 2 locations - Hibbing and Virginia, MN. Everyone working under one roof provides better communication and better order efficiency thereby resulting in faster order turnaround time. The new facility provides a safe and clean workplace environment and enables us to produce higher quality rebuilt components with greater efficiency.


SMR: In what ways is the facility state-of-theart?

JW: The warehouse is computer monitored with narrow aisle storage, lean material flow and truck docking able to handle LTL and truck load freight. Every part is tracked electronically in our new SAP [software] system and cycle counted to confirm accuracy. Bridge cranes and new material handling equipment make component movements safe and secure. The Mechanical Bay is designed for large component repairs to be processed linearly from tear down, wash, inspect, replace and rebuild to Original Equipment [OE] specifications. Access to OE specifications is located in each work cell and allows the Joy Global Service Technician to quickly obtain specific information for the job. Quality inspection is the final step to verify accuracy and close the job. The Mechanical Bay has epoxy floors and designated locations for all tools and parts. The Weld Bay is very large and designed to accommodate the passage of a Low-Boy semi-truck. Both Drills and Shovels can be fully assembled in the Weld Bay. A new Air filtration system has been installed to exceed the EPA requirements and keep the working environment clean and looking new. Each work cell is outfitted with all the tools and utilities that might be needed. Consumables are vendor managed to ensure that correct stocking levels are maintained. The Paint and Blast Bay uses cutting edge Dustless sandblasting, high-pressure wash, and environmentally friendly paints. It is possible to be sandblasting and painting in adjacent cells of the Paint and Blast Bays, which previously was not possible. The result is an efficient work area that produces a high quality product. A rail car connects the Weld Bay to the Paint and Blast Bay. This makes it very efficient to move large components between departments.

LF: The new facility has a state-of-the-art air cleaning system installed in the heavy weld bays. This system is a “first of its kind”. We have installed state-of-the-art lighting systems and massive service doors that provide insulation and yet allow ambient light to pass through.



SMR: What is the need for the large cranes in this facility (larger than those at the Milwaukee headquarter)?

JW: Our facility deals with a broad range of components due to the nature of our Service Center and we did not want to limit our capabilities for considering other future opportunities to service our customers.


LF: The facility was designed for current as well as future mining equipment handling needs. Equipment and components are getting larger and larger. Large capacity cranes allow us to handle components and equipment safely and more efficiently, with less rigging time and handling. Our goals were safety first followed by efficiency.


SMR: What areas of business growth or other factors does further planned expansion of the facility depend on?

JW: Our goal at Joy Global is to become the first choice provider of parts and service for the Iron Range by providing economical service and cutting edge quality.

LF: Global market data indicates continued strong demand for iron ore and non-ferrous minerals. Geologically, the Iron Range sits right in the middle of significant mineable ferrous and non-ferrous deposits. We look for growth in developing projects in the area. We are also a support service center for the Eastern Canadian Iron Ore market.



SMR: What infrastructure was provided by the support offered from state, federal and Iron Range rehabilitation grants?

JW: The economic support that we receive from the IRRRB, State and Federal is what originally allowed us to justify the investment in the Iron Range and do it right. Joy Global is extremely grateful for the financial support we received.


SMR: You mentioned in your recent press release that the new facility will bring hope to the community and contribute to the health of the mining industry in Minnesota. Are there any specific community inclusive, social responsibility initiatives that you plan to undertake in Minnesota?

JW: Joy Global is an active participant and supporter of Habitat for Humanity in Northern Minnesota. The company also contributes to educational and cultural organizations in our area including local provides educational tours to local schools and colleges and allows local organizations to use our facility for special events.

LF: Joy Global Iron Range Operations contributes to many local organizations. Being a part of the community is very important to us. As John pointed out, Joy Global recently joined with Habitat for Humanity in several house builds and contributed $15,000.00 to the Virginia Foundation to be used for school projects, parks and various other civic organizations. Joy Global Iron Range Operations opens its doors and conference rooms for community use for safety training, civic meetings, trade meetings and education about the mining business and trades. The company makes every effort to accommodate requests. Our employees enjoy meeting their neighbors who are interested in what we do and sharing their passion for the mining industry. Our investment in this facility is proof that we believe that the mining industry is here to stay in the Iron Range and elsewhere and that young professionals can find good jobs working for a good company supplying services to the mining industry.


SMR: Will it be possible for you to share details regarding the job opportunities, over and above the 60 plus that you mentioned that the new facility is likely to generate in Minnesota?

JW: Joy Global job openings are posted on our website, joyglobal,com/careers. Interested applicants can apply online or by dropping off a resume at our facility.

LF: Our openings fluctuate but we have largely been able to level out the peaks and valleys by servicing a large geography.


SMR: Your organization is committed to workplace safety and has a very strong EH&S policy in place. Will you be able to share with us some of your innovative EH&S activities.

JW: Joy Global’s EH&S program exceeds the requirements of OSHA and MSHA. We facilitate a daily morning stretch and complete a Field Level Risk Assessment card before starting each job. We have daily Toolbox safety share topics, train employees to help stay alert to hazards, and have an active Plant Safety Committee. We are in pursuit of OSHA’s VPP Star of Excellence status which is their highest level of safety performance. We strongly believe that in order to have a successful safety program, it must be driven at the front line employee level and well supported by management.

LF: Safety is a culture here and it starts at the top. We have integrated our EH&S policies and practices with our customers’ EH&S practices and policies. We frequently jointly share best practices with our customers. Safety is a portion of everyone’s annual metrics. We begin almost every meeting with a safety share which can be work or non-work related. Safety is as important at home as it is at work. We implemented “Safe Start” - a nationally known safety program where early observations prevent accidents and injury. We have an active “Plant Safety Council” where anyone can participate and provide input.



SMR: What are the services that you plan to offer to iron mines in the Minnesota Region?

JW: With our breadth of experience and capabilities, we are in a position to tackle almost any challenge that our customers are facing. We want to be the first resource for problem resolution because we are solution experts.

LF: We supply original equipment replacement parts for P&H and LeTourenau shovels, drills and loaders. We rebuild and resell entire pieces of mining equipment. We offer exchange components and house an entire “Used and Rebuilt” business. From our facility we refurbish used components and market them around the globe. Our factory trained, highly skilled “Technical Service Team” is the best in the industry, available 24/7 to get the customers equipment up and running. Our field service team is also highly trained and skilled - capable of providing mechanical and welding repairs 24/7.



SMR: As you mentioned, the Iron Range has been experiencing a boom and bust economy for some time now and yet you have opted to put up a large facility here. What are some of the compelling reasons that made you decide to proceed with this venture at this time?

JW: Joy Global is investing in the long term future of the Iron Range. Our investment is deliberate based on our belief in the economic vitality of the Iron Range. The Iron Range is still one of the most cost effective sources for minerals and we believe that we can help carry efficiencies and improvements farther. We are delighted to be on the Iron Range and look forward to a successful future.

LF: Global demands for minerals are on the rise. There are countries that are in their early development stage and demand for ferrous and non-ferrous minerals will be driven by such countries. There will be cycles as history has taught us and managing to and through those cycles will continue to be challenging. Current production rates at existing mines coupled with “greenfield” sites being developed around the deposits, will provide many years of mining remaining in the Iron Range. The iron ore mining operations we service regionally can compete on the global market. They use the most productive equipment on the market, employ skilled people, use the best technology and continue to lower their cost per ton. Joy Global Iron Range Operations is here to partner with our customers on their journey to provide a safe environment to work and remain competitive in a global marketplace.


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