Dreams really can become reality if you believe in yourself. Just ask Kevin Cant, founder of Nivek Industries.
The challenge of removing belly plates and other components from heavy equipment has long been a key safety issue, with many examples of major and minor safety emergencies and incidents. It was a situation Kevin was determined to solve and solve he did.
Kevin started Nivek Industries on his own out of a backyard shed in Greta in 2009, though nowadays you will find the Nivek team operating out of their workshop in Maison Dieu, where Kevin and his 13 employees work hard to export their flagship product, TED, around the world.
TED is a track elevation device and the best thing its inventor Kevin said he ever did was give it a name that is now synonymous with mine safety systems throughout the world.
Five hundred are now in operation around the world. Its humble beginnings in Australia have spread its wings to mine sites from Mongolia to Madagascar to China. There are more than 50 in operation in Canada alone.
So how did this happen you ask?
Kevin completed Years 11 and 12 at a trades school in Melbourne where he duxed metal work, engineering, lathe and automotive mechanic classes. He says it was a result of being interested and doing the work while his classmates were slacking off at the back of the room with a teacher who didn’t really care what they did.
Travelling extensively as a kid with a dad in the RAAF, he was happy his parents settled at Bulga to run a lucerne farm.
Kevin gained a job in the mining industry as a diesel mechanic but when his dad needed hay making equipment, in particular a bail accumulator, he set about making him one to dodge the cost of purchasing this essential machinery.
Kevin’s brain began to tick a little stronger and back on the mine site he could see the need for a product like TED and began working on a design. It followed a little research where he confirmed suspicions that taking heavy equipment back to the mine’s workshop for something as simple as replacing an O‘ring meant expensive downtime for the vehicle, as well as putting a mechanic in a dangerous work setting.
At first Kevin thought he could build and hire out about a dozen TEDs to mines, bringing in a comfortable income and allowing him to spend more time with his kids – and more time not having to work.
His brother, Derrick, after experiencing world travel with his career, was the more business minded of the family and came to work at Nivek in 2014. Kevin attributes the company’s worldwide success to his brother’s business acumen and the understanding that their product was something the mining industry needed.
Taking the story from there Derrick told us, “Kevin needed help with the business side of things. Operator manuals, certifications and documentation. All that stuff needed beyond the machine itself to be able to properly take it to market and use it effectively.”
Derrick said that they decided early that TED could be an asset on sites all over the world and took it to a few trade shows not knowing what to expect and making a few mistakes here and there.
Their first expo in Canada was a flop. Despite all their efforts TED failed to show up thanks to the freight company and all they had was a marquee on a cement slab and a few business cards.
They didn’t give up and went to a second expo in Canada with TED and their unique concept was soon noticed.
“Sometimes you never know who you are going to meet, and fortunately we got noticed by the right people and word spread from there,” said Derrick. “That was nearly ten years ago, and the company has grown exponentially every single year since.”
Nivek and TED are now well and truly embedded in mine operations and almost every open cut across Australia has a TED, with many sites operating multiple units. Product refinement and development has fuelled growth even further and TED’s attachment range has expanded to meet an even greater suite of tasks on sites.
Kevin now watches over the company and gets involved in R&D on TED’s ongoing journey, coming up with and making components and buying equipment to expand production including things like laser cutters.
His creative mind is often tapped into when mine operations come up against mechanical barriers and they are constantly working on new ‘‘innovations’ to make mine operations more efficient and safer.
While he continues to work hard, he’s also enjoying the success of his invention and watching the commitment of dedicated and loyal staff take it forward.
He also appreciates that he now has the time to get behind the wheel, pursuing offroad racing of which he has been state champion in his class for five years.
“My life has changed dramatically. I went from living day to day, week to week and struggling a bit, to now occasionally patting myself on the head and thanking God for deciding to back myself all those years ago,” said Kevin.
While Nivek would not have been possible without that early dream of Kevin’s, Derrick says these days it’s a team effort that moves them forward.
“We are a passionate and tight team. Kevin and I learned early that your workforce is your biggest asset and we have been fortunate enough to bring together a very talented and tight team who give it their all. We try to make it a happy place to work and doing so has no doubt contributed to our success.”
Congratulations on an amazing, local, success and good news story. Kevin, you are a top bloke and thoroughly deserve all the success you and the team are now enjoying.