Customers in Action

1331109 Alberta Ltd. and C-Key Trucking Ltd.


September 17, 2015

“Komatsu became our machinery of choice”

1331109 Alberta Ltd.

Building a successful business involves making sacrifices and tough decisions, including long hours spent away from family. Nobody knows that better than Corrie and Natalie Key, who operate C-Key Trucking Ltd. and 1331109 Alberta Ltd. in Lacombe/Ponoka, Alberta.

“We have shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears during the years to build both companies to where they are today. In the early days of the trucking company, the only time I knew I could spend with Corrie was on Wednesday nights when he would service the gravel truck, and I would clean the cab and hand him wrenches,” said Natalie.

“My dad and I both farmed years ago,” said Corrie. “Dad had crop land and cattle, and I had a dairy farm on his land. My dad, Raymond Key, had gravel on a quarter of his land and decided to quit farming and start Key’s Loader Service, supplying aggregate to area farmers and oil companies. In 1986, I sold my dairy farm, bought a gravel truck and started C-Key Trucking Ltd. One truck led to three, and we’ve been hauling for local aggregate producers and asphalt companies now for 20 years.

“In 2006, my dad was planning to retire, and it only made sense for us to buy the pit as an add-on to the trucking company, so we started 1331109 Alberta Ltd. and haven’t looked back,” recalled Corrie.

1331109 Alberta Ltd. is currently working out of the Spruceville Pit (Eadie) in Lacombe County. It maintains aggregate inventories of 20 mm, 40 mm and 80 mm crushed gravel; 20 mm and 40 mm screened rock; pit run; and screenings. Last year, its Komatsu loaders loaded out 700,000 tonnes of product, which kept the three loaders very busy. The Keys expect that the Spruceville Pit has enough reserves to last at least another decade.

“We’re very meticulous when it comes to the quality and consistency of our products,” said Natalie. “Sieve analysis testing is done continuously to ensure the product is in spec. It’s helped us build a solid reputation as a trusted supplier and has gained us many repeat, long-term customers.”

“Reclamation is a very high priority in our pits, and we work on it daily,” said Corrie. “We are very pleased with the performance of our Komatsu rock trucks, as they are a huge part of our reclamation process.”

Komatsu reliability

1331109 Alberta Ltd.

Moving materials and loading trucks is mainly done with Komatsu equipment, including three wheel loaders (two WA480-6s and a WA470-7) and three HM300 articulated trucks.

“Komatsu became our machinery of choice for a couple of reasons,” said Corrie. “One, everyone we talked to as we were looking for equipment gave it good reviews, and another was that we saw the crushing company put their Komatsus through some rigorous paces without issue, so we knew it was reliable and productive. Komatsu proved itself. We bought our first Komatsu loader, a WA480, about 10 years ago and put nearly 6,000 hours on it before we traded it in. Other than routine maintenance, I think it only had two hours of downtime. That speaks for itself and illustrates why we continue to buy Komatsu.”

The Keys say another reason they buy Komatsu is the service they get from SMS Equipment Company’s Red Deer branch, including Sales Rep Stan Siebel; Parts Manager Darren Ondik; Field Supervisor Dwayne Hagel; and Operations Manager Bruce Basisty.

“They take care of us, 100 percent,” said Natalie. “We appreciate their honesty and ability to ensure we have the proper equipment and support to back it up. SMS’ technicians handle routine services complimentary with the Komatsu CARE program on the Tier 4 machines, which is fantastic. They track them with KOMTRAX – which we also use to keep an eye on our machines – and come out at a time convenient for us. We’ve come to expect that if we have an issue, SMS will respond right away, and they’ve never let us down.”

Sacrifices pay off

Currently the Keys have about eight employees, many of whom have worked for them for a long time. “They are very dedicated and loyal employees. They have helped Corrie and me gain back some quality time with our children and grandchildren,” said Natalie. Her brother, Norman Deal, is one such key individual. Norm oversees all of the pit operations and trucking needs in their absence. Other key employees include Equipment Operators Dwight Nicholson, Jason Penner, Joe Valiquette, Mike McDonagh and Kevin Wilson. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without them, and they’ve helped us grow to a point where last year was a record-setter for us in terms of volume,” said Corrie.

“Corrie and I remain highly involved in the day-to-day operations, including running equipment and the office or going to get parts, as well as other things that keep the business going,” said Natalie. “That’s probably always going to be the case with a business our size, and that’s fine with us. Our goal remains to supply our customers with the best products and make a good living for us and for our employees. We believe that through the years SMS Equipment in Red Deer has, without a doubt, helped us to achieve that goal.”