By Jack Kohane
J im McCann Jr. proudly states his company’s motto: “Now You’re Torquing!” As he likes to tell it, torque has proven itself to be almost unmatched in one big nuts-and-bolts respect – as a practical means of achieving clamp load in a fastener.
By Jack Kohane
“There are plenty of options from which to select the most appropriate torque tool for just about any job,” says the president of McCann Equipment from his Mississauga, Ont., office and warehouse. And because he rents and sells a huge array of torque wrenches, torque equipment and steel erector tools, the company bearing his family name has become synonymous with torque over its 42-year history.
Torque is defined as any force or system of forces that tends to cause rotation about an axis. It’s measured as the turning force on an object such as a bolt or a flywheel. For example, pushing or pulling the handle of a wrench connected to a nut or bolt produces a torque (turning force) that loosens or tightens the nut or bolt. When it comes to a threaded fastener, the object is to clamp parts together with a tension greater than the external forces tending to separate them. If the initial tension is too low, varying loads act on the bolt and it will quickly fail. If the initial tension is too high, the tightening process may cause bolt failure. “Reliability depends upon correct initial tension,” McCann explains. “The best way of ensuring this is by specifying and controlling the tightening torque.”
Torque and tension testing is a specialty service within such eminently specialized industrial sectors as aviation, oil, gas and chemical, mining, manufacturing, and automotive, among others. Bolt failure is not an option when it comes to building a better bus or locking bolts into steel bridges. McCann Equipment has tightened its hold as the national go-to source for rent or purchase of torque wrenches (air, hydraulic, electric and manual) including bolt tension calibrators, torque test fixtures, torque transducers, torque wrench loaders and tension testers. “We’re a top supplier to the military too,” notes McCann. “Have you ever seen the bolts on a tank or jet fighter? That’s where torque tools are applied.” Among the company’s chief rental clients are steel erectors, construction companies, contractors, and large railroads.
The company has cemented partnerships with an international who’s who of the torque trade. It’s the exclusive Canadian representative for Norbar Torque Tools. (U.K.); Tone Tool Co. (Japan) which produces electric torque wrenches; TorcUp. (USA) offering hydraulic torque wrenches, pumps and pneumatic torque wrenches; and Skidmore-Wilhelm (USA), an industry-leading tension calibration tester. “These top manufacturers have tools and equipment to address any number of bolting applications that the industry can throw at it,” asserts McCann.
McCann Equipment (ISO 17025 accredited) rents, sells and services most makes and models of torque products. It rents unique electric torque wrenches for steel erection and construction as well as hydraulic pumps and cylinders (up to 500 ton, two-inch stroke capacity cylinders) and Jack-Mate hydraulic synchronous lifting systems, tension calibration testers and trend-setting DC electronic torque wrenches for the wind power industry. “And if you see a torque screwdriver zipping wheel nuts into place at an automotive garage, it’s probably one of our products doing the job,” McCann adds.
Headquartered out of Montreal, where company founder, Jim McCann Sr. began business in March 1975 serving the construction and steel industries with pneumatic tools and repairs, McCann Equipment today carries over 50 product lines such as Enerpac, Stanley Hydraulic Tools, Chicago Pneumatic and Ajax to name a few. The company’s staples are now torque screwdrivers, torque wrenches and a series of torque multipliers that McCann has developed and refined to keep an ongoing pace with the industry’s requirements.
McCann has a long relationship with Norbar. He refers to this U.K.-based torque tool maker as the true pioneer of pneumatic torque tool technology. Norbar has dubbed “pneutorque” to define an air motor mated to its planetary gearbox system to produce consistent, reliable torque control. In concert with its on-going partnership with the likes of Norbar and Tone, J.Y. Boily, McCann’s national sales manager, has been instrumental in the creation of various products that address specific industry applications. Today there are many companies offering pneumatic torque wrenches, each with its own twist on the type of air motor, air consumption, speed of rotation and decibel level of performance. “Their shape and size vary quite significantly, but if a tool fits and can produce the requisite torque, then it’s a go. Where one type of torque tool won’t fit, another will,” says McCann.
Where there is no available air supply, McCann suggests other options to consider. If there is an electrical outlet handy, then consider an electric-operated hydraulic pump to power a hydraulic torque wrench, be it a square drive tool or a low-clearance ratchet link style. Maybe even an electric torque wrench. There’s always the option of manually using a torque wrench in conjunction with a multiplier. However, this is generally more physically demanding and time-consuming. “It’s easier to pull a trigger or toggle a pendant control switch rather than exert strenuous energy using a multiplier,” he affirms. “Not that multipliers are bad, quite the contrary. It all depends on how many and how much. How many fasteners one needs to torque and what the budget will allow. This being said, the chief consideration should be the cost, not the price.”
“Progress is wonderful,” smiles McCann. “Years ago tools were bigger, heavier, slower and less safe to operate. Today’s products are lighter, faster, safer and, generally, more user-friendly. An aging work force can truly appreciate these advancements. The younger work force simply accepts that this is the norm.”
“Back when my dad started the company, the total staff complement was one,” chuckles McCann Jr. Today, there’s a staff of 76, including top factory-trained technical whizzes. “The company has been dad’s baby from conception. And at 93, we can confirm that he will never fully retire. He is computer savvy and routinely monitors what’s happening. He has mentored his staff well throughout his years at the helm and has charged his management team to take care of business. And that means take care of the customer.” McCann boasts the fact that most of the company’s management and service staff are long-term employees, some on the job for 30 years and longer. “We believe they like the corporate culture here, always challenging them, advancing their skills, striving for excellence both personally and professionally.”
In addition to its sprawling 22,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Montreal, the company has grown to six Canadian branch office locations, including the 8,400-square-foot site west of Toronto, and the 11,000-square-foot Edmonton branch expanded and relocated in 2014. The Montreal location serves as the company’s central warehouse, from which all branch locations draw from their inventory as required. Each branch retains adequate stock to satisfy normal customer needs. The company has an operation in New Hampshire, called Eastern Pneumatics and Hydraulics, wholly owned by McCann Equipment Ltd. “We treat EPH as a separate company,” McCann says. “They represent only some of the same products as we do in Canada, and offer sales, service and rentals, focusing primarily on bolting tools for industry.”
Focusing on the future of the company, McCann sees only steady and sustained growth over the long term, particularly in its rental division which is experiencing an annual eight per cent increase. “We project similar growth with our rental business in the coming years,” he proclaims. “Though we have to be mindful of our commitment to new product sales and service, ideally our corporate goal remains to realize steady growth in all facets of our business.” McCann Equipment offers its customer rentals for a day, a week, a month or even longer. “It is vitally important to keep one’s rental fleet in good operating condition,” he continues. “All products are inspected and serviced upon return from rental so they are good to go for the next rental.”
Five of Jim McCann Sr.’s seven kids are engaged in the family business. McCann Jr. Says, “We want to fulfil our dad’s vision of continued growth, to be the largest specialty torque tool distributor in Canada.” Keep on torquing.
That family pride is on full display around the McCann offices. In the warehouse, two huge paintings hang from the ceiling. One shows a worker tightening bolts on a Toronto Transit Commission bus tire. The other shows a worker applying a big hydraulic ratchet to bolts on large flange, perhaps a section of a pipeline. The paintings were done by Jim’s daughter, Jessica, and add a unique touch that makes the shop into a friendly place. In the lobby are photos of Jim Sr. in his uniform as a paratrooper in the Second World War, along with a newspaper article that was written about his service. Respect for his father’s achievements is clearly a big part of what motivates Jim Jr. as he leads the company today.
Hard work, close ties and building expertise in a lucrative niche have combined to turn McCann from a one-man show into a national leader.