Made- in- B. C. drill bits bore way into mar­ket

Prod­uct spe­cial­ized for dif­fer­ent rock types


There was a time 14 years ago when Eric Gaun­der ran his di­a­mond drill bit company from the kitchen ta­ble of his Rich­mond home. How times have changed. Now he sits in his own large of­fice on No. 5 Road in Steve­ston above a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant that turns out about 110,000 di­a­mond- tipped drill bits a year for the min­ing in­dus­try world­wide. A col­lec­tion of in­dus­try and com­mu­nity awards on the wall grows big­ger each year.

The lat­est to be hung in the gallery is a 2014 Ethno BC award from the Ethno Business Coun­cil of Bri­tish Columbia, which rec­og­nizes the achieve­ments of new Cana­dian en­trepreneur­s in help­ing ex­pand the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“We are very proud of those awards,” says Gaun­der, the pres­i­dent and founder of Hay­den Di­a­mond Bit In­dus­tries, who came to Canada in 1986 from Fiji.

More than 70 per cent of his Rich­mond- made drill bits, which are mostly used by the min­ing ex­plo­ration in­dus­try to take core sam­ples, go for ex­port.

Gaun­der came to Canada to study ac­count­ing at the Univer­sity of B. C., where he re­ceived a business diploma and qual­i­fied as a cer­ti­fied gen­eral ac­coun­tant, and went to work as a comptrolle­r for a company ser­vic­ing the min­ing in­dus­try.

A down­turn in the econ­omy caused the company to shut down and he was left with­out a job.

“I had two op­tions: I could go back to ac­count­ing and go on with that or do some­thing in business. I had an in­ter­est in the min­ing ser­vice in­dus­try be­cause I knew some­thing about that sec­tor,” he says.

That led Gaun­der to im­port drill bits man­u­fac­tured in South Africa and sell them to min­eral ex­plo­ration com­pa­nies. In 2002 he opened a small ware­house with seven em­ploy­ees.

“That’s how we be­gan. The ma­jor prod­uct I was deal­ing with was a di­a­mond prod­uct. I was im­port­ing them to ser­vice the min­ing in­dus­try in the North Amer­i­can mar­ket,” he says.

How­ever, it wouldn’t be long be­fore he be­gan think­ing about mak­ing the drill bits him­self.

“With my knowl­edge and skills, I be­gan try­ing to make a unique prod­uct. When I say unique I mean build­ing a bet­ter ma­trixes — the di­a­mond sur­face which cuts the ground.

“There are many dif­fer­ent types of rock so you need dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents to cut dif­fer­ent rock, and I wanted to im­prove on what we had,” he says.

With my knowl­edge and skills, I be­gan try­ing to make a unique prod­uct. ERIC GAUN­DER PRES­I­DENT, HAY­DEN DI­A­MOND BIT IN­DUS­TRIES

Rock varies from the soft­est type — over­bur­den — to the harder, chert or flint.

“In 2004 I de­cided to man­u­fac­ture my own drill bit here in Rich­mond. We have a unique tech­nol­ogy. We pur­chased high- tech equip­ment, set it all up, and de­signed our own ma­trixes. My fo­cus was to cre­ate a qual­ity prod­uct be­cause with a qual­ity prod­uct, we could get well into the mar­ket,” he says.

The di­a­mond bits the company pro­duces range in size up to about 40 cen­time­tres — the largest be­ing de­signed for an ex­per­i­men­tal project in a ura­nium mine.

“We started with seven em­ploy­ees and in 2009 we bought this prop­erty and built this build­ing, and now we have 75 em­ploy­ees,” he says.

He also op­er­ates a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in China to ser­vice the Chi­nese mar­ket, but those bits do not match the qual­ity of the Rich­mond- built pieces.

Those cheaper prod­ucts are made for min­ing op­er­a­tions in China, the Philip­pines or In­done­sia, he said.

“It’s hard to pen­e­trate the mar­kets in those coun­tries be­cause of the price ( of North Amer­i­can- grade bits). Here we make high- qual­ity bits but in those coun­tries they find they can serve their in­dus­tries with a lower- cost prod­uct,” he says.

The min­ing ex­plo­ration in­dus­try is no­to­ri­ously cycli­cal, de­pen­dent on the ups and downs of the econ­omy, and last year was a down year.

“It was a bit slow but we kept all our em­ploy­ees and didn’t lay any­body off. Now it’s pick­ing up,” he says.

“The em­ploy­ees have been a big plus in grow­ing this company and we’re fo­cused on giv­ing back by pro­vid­ing full ben­e­fits, pen­sions and bonuses. We also give back to our com­mu­nity,” he says.

Last year the company do­nated about $ 50,000 to a num­ber of causes from the Rich­mond Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal to churches and tem­ples, while em­ploy­ees also helped out coach­ing sports teams and pro­vid­ing other vol­un­teer ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We want to keep con­tribut­ing to the com­mu­nity and in­creas­ing what we do be­cause it’s part of our cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy,” Gaun­der says.


Eric Gaun­der, pres­i­dent of Hay­den Di­a­mond Bit In­dus­tries, over­sees the pro­duc­tion of a prod­uct that is vi­tal to min­ing ex­plo­ration.

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