Leading Industry Change through Innovative Practices

Domino Highvoltage Supply
Written by William Young

Domino Highvoltage Supply Inc. provides power-related products and services. Primarily, the company is a high-voltage power line distributor, involved in the stocking, packaging, and selling of material required to build overhead or underground distribution lines, substations, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and transmission lines.
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Domino began in the garage of company president Grant Lockhart in 2005 on just a single $5000.00 credit card, buying and selling power equipment and parts. The company’s history is one that Lockhart refers to as a “choose your own adventure.”

In the ensuing years, Domino would evolve into a profitable and respected company in the HighVoltage Electrical industry, reporting industry-leading revenues last year. The company now has a staff of over 60 employees in locations across Canada and the USA, as well as performing operations around the globe.

Lockhart says that over Domino’s nearly fifteen years in business, the industry has changed fundamentally. The global market is very aggressive today, and the place within it for a traditional distributor is dwindling. As a result, more manufacturers are turning to outsourcing and essentially taking on the role of distributors themselves. Lockhart’s vision of Domino’s future took a different approach; Domino decided to diversify in several key areas.

Domino owns manufacturing company Transmission Innovations which provides services and products like two-component polyurethanes which can replace wood or steel in power products for the extra-high-voltage market. It also bought a company named Spectrum, converting it into the Domino Highvoltage testing division for on-site digital x-raying, cable testing, and more.

Domino has invested north of a million dollars into dielectric testing equipment, split between its Eastern and Western Regional head offices, offering services across Canada, led by its certified lab team. Lockhart points out that diversifying into the testing market has given the company a broader range of offerings in both services and products, attracted new clients and opened more doors within existing client base, a move which has proven lucrative.

Domino has a history of innovation within both the industry and its own practices. The company developed its own inventory management system in 2007 because other material management software within the sector simply was not robust enough to respond to the needs of its clients. Lockhart says that Domino’s proprietary software practically does everything, acting as the “operational backbone that ties into [the company’s] financial system,” and performing a multitude of tasks from ordering material from vendors to tracking and receiving, creating quotes for clients, gaining logistics data, uploading batch reports, and far more. The home-grown software “operationally manages the entire company,” a feat that hardly any other company in the sector can claim.

There is one division of Domino that he considers “the crown jewel,” of the operation’s output: its procurement and project material management (PPM) division. “Due to the increased global demand for energy on our aging infrastructure, utilities and private industry have had to respond with major upgrades and new construction to meet the demands.” Domino recognized that this size of undertaking would not lend itself to a typical distributor mark-up but rather would attract a global vendor market at extremely competitive pricing. Domino’s PPM division was created to manage the need for Global material Procurement, Quality Control and Material management on projects such as these.

Domino’s PPM Division works in partnership with its clients to provide the most current and up-to-date information, pricing and quality data on the global market vendors. Once an approved Bill of Material and Vendor selection is produced, Domino begins the Procurement and Quality Inspection Process, a practice that clients find very attractive.

With this division, Domino has created its own spot within the market that other companies cannot match. The PPM division allows Domino to identify and correct Material Quality issues prior to and during the manufacturing phase; these savings are hard to quantify, but can be immense. Imagine shipping materials across the Atlantic or Pacific oceans and into a remote part of North America, only to find the material to be incorrect or lacking in the required quality specifications.

“Cost is and always will be important to our customers,” Lockhart states. “But to be successful you need to add more value than just low price. Think of the last car you bought. Someone arranged for all of the parts to be sourced, evaluated, tested, shipped and delivered to the right place, assembled into a complete vehicle and brought to the dealer near you. All you have to do is negotiate a good price and drive it away; you wouldn’t dream of doing it any other way. In the high voltage industry, Domino operates the same way. We deliver materials and most importantly, peace of mind.”

With all its innate advantages and cutting-edge market additions, the company has garnered valuable contracts. Domino gained a great deal of attention for its recent involvement in the Fort McMurray West 500-kilovolt transmission project, for which the company provided five hundred kilometres of new energy transmission lines in northern Alberta.

The company is now doing a project in Ontario that involves mixed services, with two more awarded projects to begin in the third and fourth quarters of 2019.

The consumer end of the electronics business has changed dramatically even within the last thirty years, with the advent of cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars, and similar power-dependent modern technological devices. The demand for energy is massive, but the system it runs on has not changed in the last century, and most large energy transmission systems are at their capacity. This is why change will happen within the industry sooner rather than later.

Lockhart adds, “We work with many electric utilities, as well as mines, oil and gas companies, industrial complexes and infrastructure developers. If, for example, you are developing a mine, the powerlines and substations are really just an extension cord to plug in your business. In conjunction with our partners, we can design, permit, procure equipment and build all high voltage facilities. We work hard to bring our expertise to the table and let the mining company focus on their operations.”

Domino has effectively changed the direction of its industry through its practices and approaches to the national market and is leading the charge within the market. Time will tell just how Domino Highvoltage Supply’s impact on the market will be felt, but Lockhart remains confident that the company’s name and accomplishments will continue to speak for themselves.

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