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Montreal company’s portable water pumps help wildland firefighters around the world

Montreal company’s portable water pumps help wildland firefighters around the world

A North American wildland firefighter backpacks a WATERAX pump into the brush to search for a water source.

The owners of WATERAX were stunned when they saw one of their company’s portable water pumps strapped on the back of an elephant. The elephant was crossing through a jungle in Indonesia on its way to a wildfire.

Marcello Iacovella, a co-owner of Montreal-based WATERAX, realized just how far-reaching his company was when a client shared a photo of that journey into the jungle.

“It’s amazing to see how our equipment is being used all over the world in different environments,” Iacovella says.

WATERAX has become the gold standard for lightweight, high-pressure portable fire pumps. Clients use the pumps worldwide, from the jungles of Indonesia to the remote mountain communities in Italy.

Since Iacovella and his partners, Raffaele Gerbasi and Frédéric Lefrançois, bought WATERAX in 2010, they have refocused the company on its manufacturing expertise and design know-how. Export markets have contributed immensely to the company’s success, which is evident in its tremendous growth over just two years.

Between 2016 and 2018, WATERAX’s exports grew by 54%. WATERAX ships its equipment to more than 40 countries to help wildland firefighters move water to fight fires and save lives and communities.

“We provide those heroes with equipment to make it happen,” Iacovella says.

WATERAX exports to some of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) signatory countries, including Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. They also ship their firefighter equipment to other countries in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Iacovella says the CPTPP will help WATERAX grow its Southeast Asia market in areas like Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan.

CETA will lower the import burden for their agents in the European Union, which will increase competitiveness in local markets. And lower tariffs is always a win-win for Canadian companies.

“For us, free trade is always a good thing. I always view the lowering of tariffs and barriers as a good thing, ” Iacovella says.

Iacovella says the Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service gave him on the ground intelligence in key markets and helped identify potential partners and customers.

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