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JAPA Machinery: A Five-Decade Retrospective

JAPA Machinery: A Five-Decade Retrospective

In 2022, JAPA celebrated its 50th anniversary! It was such an exciting moment to share in celebrating the ups, downs, trials and wins of the last 50 years with our team, customers, friends, families, and community. We are so passionate about how our business has evolved over the years and the humble beginnings from which JAPA was started in 1972. 

Now, in our 51st year, we have taken a step like never before and expanded JAPA’s reach to southern Alberta with a new Calgary branch. As we welcome new customers across the province, we’d like to share some of our history – our “Alberta grown” story – and introduce to you some of what we are doing here at JAPA to evolve in today’s market.

Before we dive right in, I wanted to start with our mission here at JAPA. We are a family-owned and Alberta-grown business that provides heavy equipment solutions. Our reputation is built on a foundation of:

  • Hard work
  • Taking pride in ownership and in our equipment
  • Treating all customers and employees with honesty and respect
  • And having a willingness to take on new challenges and investigate new ideas. 

Let’s take it back to JAPA’s roots.

In the 1960s, Paul Green moved to Alberta from PEI to work on the pipeline and build a life for his family. After several years working for a large pipeline company, Paul decided to branch out on his own.

In 1972, Paul took out a loan against his car, and together with his then-business partner, Jack Edwards, they started JAPA Industries – JA for Jack, PA for Paul. Paul’s youngest brother, Roger Green, joined the JAPA team shortly thereafter. At that time, the loan against Paul’s car was used to buy used, old, run-down heavy equipment, fix it up or rebuild it, and sell it to local contractors. 

In their first 4 years of business, Paul and Roger worked out of a Quonset hut in Edmonton, over a dirt floor. Finally, in 1976, JAPA started to build our first building in West Edmonton. Unable to get a mortgage from the bank because they were a new small company, Paul and Roger built it themselves. After covering overhead costs, Roger and Paul would take any extra money and would go over to the cinderblock store, buy a load of blocks, and start building. It took two years to complete that office and shop space. And then they were on their way. 

(This is what it looked like then and now!)

Through the 80s and 90s, JAPA’s business was heavily focused on pipeline work as well as sewer and water work. JAPA was well known as a major supplier of pipeline equipment, with a fleet of over 85 pipelayers. Paul, Roger and Dave Green’s names became synonymous with hard work, ingenuity, and quality machinery. JAPA worked closely with R Angus, the Caterpillar dealer at that time, to design and build the first hydraulic pipelayers & side booms. In some circles, these machines were called the “japa-layer”. After JAPA built these hydraulic side booms, R Angus ended up shipping them worldwide. Within the relatively small community that is Alberta’s heavy construction contractors, there is still a lasting sense of credibility that comes when the old boys hear JAPA.

Further trying to find some solutions for our Alberta pipelines, JAPA started building and retrofitting quad welders for R Angus. Their ingenuity spread to the development of some of the first automatic welders for pipelines in Alberta. At that time, JAPA worked closely with R Angus to integrate these wilders onto CAT tractors. It was a true revolution of its time in Alberta. That evolved into designing and building THE FIRST portable automatic welders for the pipeline. 

JAPA also designed and built the first machines for putting pipelines across major rivers. These river-crossing machines used a sort of yo-yo technology that would get the pipe across without any machines having to be in the water, reducing the risk of environmental damage. Finding heavy equipment solutions is in our blood. 

At CONEXPO Con/Agg in 1994, our JAPA team was first introduced to the XCMG brand through their American distributor (Intensus). The XCMGs were easy to operate and easy to fix, which was important to us. As a business owned and operated by Heavy Equipment Technicians, JAPA was drawn to XCMG because of the ease of access for serviceability and the familiarity of the major components within the compaction equipment – the major components were then (as they are now) all widely accepted and accessible within North America. The first generation of XCMG compaction equipment to join our fleet arrived in 1995, and this was the first step in what would -– 21 years later — become our dealership.

In 2003, Paul decided it was time to retire. In order to do so, JAPA had to sell off all of the pipeline equipment. This was the start of the “next generation” of JAPA: JAPA Equipment Rentals, and our second division, JAPA Machinery Group which launched in 2016. 

In this new era, our focus has shifted from pipeline-specific equipment to more infrastructure – be it sewer and water or roadbuilding – and oilfield work. In the early years of JAPA Equipment Rentals, we ran a small rental fleet and a team of in-house and field mechanics to service some of our long-time customers' equipment. 

In 2016, JAPA officially signed on as the first exclusive Canadian Dealer for XCMG and we remain their largest dealer in North America. We now have a fleet of 250 pieces of earthmoving, compaction, asphalt and lifting equipment, including excavators from 1.8T to 50T, four sizes of wheel loaders, a continually growing variety of compaction and asphalt rollers, scissor lifts, boom lifts, telehandlers and — as of 2023 — graders. Team JAPA is 33 people and growing. We want people to continue to think of quality people and quality products when they think of JAPA. 

Some of Paul’s grandkids – though not currently active in the day-to-day operations – also have ownership in JAPA Machinery Group, making JAPA an enormously proud 3rd generation, Alberta-built, grown and operated company.

JAPA celebrated 50 years of business in June 2022 with an open house at our headquarters in Acheson, AB. It was an honour to welcome our many family, friends and wonderful customers to the festivities. In honour of our 50 years of business, we also teamed up with XCMG to launch the #XCMGblackout excavators in Alberta. This went over so well that we have varied it through with all of our excavator orders. 

In 2023, JAPA took its biggest step yet: JAPA Machinery Group & JAPA Equipment Rentals has expanded and added a new location in SE Calgary. This new facility, located at 5735 53 Street SE, Calgary, marks the first JAPA location outside of the Edmonton area. For 50 years, JAPA has offered Heavy Equipment sales, rentals, and service across Alberta. We are pleased to finally be able to better service the Calgary area and to introduce JAPA's style of seamless and easy-to-work-with rentals and service to southern Alberta. We have 6 amazing team members in Calgary and are growing. Through this first summer and construction season, it’s been an honour to have contractors, landscapers and people in the Calgary region rent, RPO, have service and buy from JAPA for the first (and second, and third…) time. 

Thank you for taking this stroll down memory lane with us. If you're looking for great quality and reliable heavy equipment rentals, contact JAPA today! We offer top-quality machines for rental or purchase, repair and maintenance services, and we sell XCMG, Cummins and Fleetguard parts! So if you need anything related to the job, let us know – we have 51 years of experience in the industry!

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