Two years ago, in the early days of the pandemic, when Pierre Lavoie, owner of the welding company Idrotek, came up with BOX-AM, a mobile storage system for truck beds, he knew that his idea could potentially revolutionise the pickup truck industry. Pierre joined forces with Rio Tinto’s Regional Economic Development (RED) and found allies who would support him every step of the way in bringing his idea to fruition.
Pierre still remembers the first conversations he had with Luc Cyrenne, Project Director, RED, when he only had sketches of the box that he wanted to build.
“We had drawings, but no prototype,” Pierre said. “There was plenty of work left to do. The entire RED team came together to support our efforts to develop the project. The RED was the catalyst driving things forward and connecting the different stakeholders in the region at the right time. The team guided us for a year and a half, meeting regularly with us and helping us a great deal. It’s reassuring to have the support of a team like Rio Tinto’s RED.”
“Pierre is a real pleasure to work with,” said Luc Cyrenne, Project Director, RED. “I noticed very early on that he really pays attention to what the stakeholders supporting him have to say. Also, this has been one of the most quickly implemented projects that we’ve been involved with. I saw it progress every month until the prototype was ready. The Idrotek team is detail oriented and spared no effort to meet the needs of a demanding clientele.”
The BOX-AM mobile storage system was launched online last May. Pierre said, “As entrepreneurs, we all dream of creating a product that is worth investing in, that is profitable in an attractive market. A good product should solve a problem.”
Pierre has dedicated his career to innovation for the past 30 years. Over time, the search for new ideas and innovative solutions has become a way of life.
He noted that all pickup owners have much the same problem with their truck bed: Whether they use it regularly or only occasionally, most of them find that keeping the area neat and tidy is a headache, not to mention being able to access their equipment. “I thought that I would make a box,” Pierre said. “The ones available on the market are often fixed on the edge of the truck bed, so everything behind the box is out of reach. For safety reasons, I wanted to make sure that people didn’t have to climb into the back of the pickup to access the box. Whatever I was going to design also had to be discreet enough to fit under the truck bed’s cover.”
How does it work?
BOX-AM is a mobile storage system for anything that pickup owners want to keep in their vehicle without limiting the use of their truck bed. The box is made entirely of aluminium and fits behind the passenger compartment. At the touch of a button, it lifts and rotates to rest on the tailgate. All of its contents are within easy reach. The distance between the turrets (up to 50 inches wide) makes it possible for sheet material to fit in the truck bed, even with the BOX-AM system, which can be removed in less than a minute. The box can also remain in place if the truck is hauling a fifth-wheel trailer.
“The BOX-AM system is a revolutionary mechanical arm system that allows the storage box to be carried and handled quickly without risk of injury,” Pierre said. “It optimises all aspects of the truck, from ergonomics and storage capacity to utility, without compromise. It was designed to manage the storage box without making extra efforts and without sacrificing useful truck space.”
Pierre has big plans for the future of BOX-AM, a project that was not initially part of the Idrotek business plans. For Lavoie, who works with his son and son-in-law, being able to rely on the next generation means the project now has an even bigger scope. Last February, his daughter Jessica Lavoie joined the company as its business development coordinator.
“Through my father, I was exposed to the business world at an early age, and I knew that I wanted to be part of this project as soon as he told me about it,” Jessica said. “For me, BOX-AM is more than a project. It’s an adventure that is close to my heart and that is giving me a chance to develop my entrepreneurial side.”
Pierre added, “BOX-AM comes at a good time for the company because we have a strong team; it takes a long time to train the workforce. Our goal is to mass produce BOX-AM in a factory. The truck market in Canada and the United States is huge. We’re waiting to see how popular the box will be.”