Trout River Industries founder Harvey Stewart solved a worldwide problem in the heavy trucking industry with an innovation developed right here in Prince Edward Island.
Getting a load out of a dump truck trailer used to mean raising the trailer to a severe angle so the contents could tumble out the back. That is, until the people at Trout River, which is located in Coleman PEI, invented a live bottom conveyor trailer that can be backed in anywhere — including onto uneven ground and near power lines – eliminating the need for a backhoe to pick up the dumped load and transport it.
Stewart’s trailer can now be found in virtually every corner of the world. It’s a safer, more efficient and versatile way to do all kinds of work – but it might not have happened if he had listened to some who told him it didn’t make financial sense.
“Entrepreneurs who really believe in their idea should jump in and take a risk rather than wait for circumstances to be perfect,” Stewart said.
“If you do something badly enough long enough and you make enough mistakes, you will surprise yourself; there’s always a better way.”
Stewart and his business partner Darrin Mitchell built their first trailer in 1999 and have kept the company privately held ever since. They are now Canada’s largest live bottom trailer manufacturer and have done business in the Middle East, South Africa, Jordan and Australia.
“It’s unbelievable how small the world is,” he said. “You can be anywhere, from PEI, within 24 hours.”
Stewart credits his success to his dogged determination from an early age. Raised on a farm in western PEI as one of 12 children, he was always fixing things and studied welding in college.
“When we were growing up and would get 40 inches of snow, my father would say somebody’s got to get out and start plowing the road,” he said. “The first pass was never perfect, but then the second plow would widen the road and people could get out and shovel and drive comfortably. Nothing ever happened until somebody got out there and did something.”