Charging into Canada

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Rhino Linings’ born-in-Canada president leads the company’s growth around the world

He’s come a long way from growing up in northern Ontario around Timmins, but San-Diego, Calif.-based Pierre Gagnon still enjoys coming back to his home country to visit family and friends.

After a lengthy career in the automotive industry with roles at General Motors and Mitsubishi, Gagnon became President and CEO of Rhino Linings Corp. in December 2005, heading a company well-known for spray-on linings for pickup-truck beds.

Products include polyurethane, polyaspartic and epoxy coatings, concrete resurfacing and refinishing products, spray foam insulation and sealants, and interior and exterior stucco. The company operates in more than 80 countries.

Rhino Linings is best known for its spray-on bed liner. It was the first company to offer the product, and is the first company in the business to have ISO 9001 certification.

There are more than 850 Rhino Linings retail locations, of which 65 are in Canada. The company came to Canada in 2003. “In Canada, 25 per cent of our applicators are auto dealerships,” said Gagnon.

Rhino service reps — there are two in Canada, one in Ontario and another in Saskatchewan — work with dealerships so it’s easy for customers to order the spray-on lining on new pickup trucks. The dealer can take care of the process so the pickup is ready to go when it’s delivered to the customer.

“We do very well in Ontario, where we’re better established, but most of our recent growth has been in the West,” said Gagnon, who hopes to grow the business by 10 per cent this year. “Canada is a good market for us.”

Applicators, who use either high- or low-pressure spray equipment from Rhino, go through three full days of training to learn how to use the system. “The safety element is really critical,” said Gagnon.

Rhino Linings offers four types of coatings with various hardness and strength ratings to suit different applications. Its signature product is TuffGrip.

Also available are the HardLine, Rhino Extreme, Rhino Hybrid and SolarMax coatings. “All are available in different colours,” said Gagnon, although “over 90 per cent of customers choose black.”

While Gagnon grew up working summers in the gold mines, his job now is to mine continuing growth for Rhino Linings.

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