In November, Jeff Smith, president of Leader Evaporator, announced that the 132-year-old company had signed a distribution agreement with H20 Innovation, a Canadian company headquartered in Ham-Nord, Canada, with offices in Swanton.
“Cooperation should be the norm in our industry,” Smith said. “When I came here a year ago, I was surprised to see few, if any, examples of companies cooperating. After many lengthy discussions between and among the principles of each company, and after discussions with our dealers, it became obvious both companies would benefit by working together, in an arrangement where some Leader products were made available to H2O dealers and some H2O products would be made available to Leader dealers.”
The mix of H20 products that Leader will sell initially ranges from vacuum monitoring systems to automatic draw offs, from large capacity storage tanks to large filter presses. But Leader expects the collaboration and product offerings to grow over time.
Smith, however, stressed that the agreement does not change the structure or operation of either company. “Leader is still Leader, and H2O is still H2O,” he said. “But now we have a formal agreement to be able to distribute certain key products together through our combined dealer base. Both companies have retained their ownership structure. This was not a purchase/sale or a merger. In the end, we decided it was better to work together to try and help sugarmakers. We are all here to help sugarmakers and to provide value. This is a great way for us to do that.
“Last year, when I was meeting with Eric Sorkin at Runamok Maple, he used the word ‘coopetition,’” Smith continued. “I told Eric I was going to steal that label. I think our arrangement with H2O is a perfect example of ‘coopetition’: two companies aligned to help each other, and to help sugarmakers, while still maintaining their independence.”