About WATERAX inc.
Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments. With a time-tested legacy of reliability, WATERAX carries on its mission to place powerful, precision engineered pumps into the hands of the men and women who protect our lives and property.
Benchmarks in the wildland firefighting community, our trustworthy MARK-3® and BB-4® centrifugal fire pumps have been top sellers and established leaders for generations. Many pumps sold decades ago are still in operation today, and maintained with genuine spare parts.
We’ve got your back.
A product is only as good as the service behind it. At WATERAX, we back up our quality products with steadfast service. Trust us to be there when you need us.
Quality. Reliability. Trust. Our pumps are as tested and proven as the men and women who use them every day.
WATERAX has a long and exciting history, the origin of the company being the Watson Jack & Co. which was founded in 1898 by Montreal native John Colquhoun Watson Jack. In 1925, he introduced a powerful 200 psi portable fire pump called the WAJAX (an acronym of Watson Jack’s name). After Watson Jack & Co. and its F.H. Hopkins subsidiary were acquired by B.J. Coghlin & Co. Ltd. in 1954, the operations of the two newly acquired businesses were merged to form a single subsidiary. This subsidiary was titled Watson Jack Hopkins Ltd. until 1959 when it was renamed Wajax Equipment Ltd.
In 1964, Wajax Ltd. acquired Pacific Marine’s fire division and changed its name to Pacific Pumpers Inc. This move solidified Wajax Ltd.’s position as North America’s leading forest fire protection products manufacturer. That year, the company also introduced the MARK-3® brand, which rapidly became the standard wildland portable fire pump used by forestry agencies around the world.
In the early 80’s Pacific Pumpers changed its name to Wajax-Pacific Fire Equipment Inc. In the ensuing years the company expanded beyond its wildland fire-control client base to become an industry-leading manufacturer of firefighting equipment for the US industrial and marine markets as well. In 1983, Wajax Ltd. set up its Fire Control Division, which combined Wajax-Pacific Fire Equipment Inc. and Montreal based Wajax Manufacturing. Events heated up during the coming years and in 1995, Wildfire Fire Equipment Inc., a newly formed company, purchased Wajax Ltd.’s Fire Control Division.
Today, the WATERAX brand captures the powerful meaning and essence of the historical names Watson Jack & Co., Wajax and Wildfire. WATERAX is truly going back to its roots by doing what its founders did really well and aligning ourselves with the original purpose of the company. This new brand identity better communicates the core nature of our manufacturing activities and our distinctive portable pump products brand.
WATERAX products are characterized by multi-stage centrifugal pump ends designed to move water while generating high-pressure to meet the difficult requirements of wildland firefighting and other applications when you need to move water over long distances and elevation.
PEOPLE BEHIND WATERAX
OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM
Raffaele Gerbasi, President
Fréderic Lefrançois, VP of Product Development
Marcello Iacovella, VP Sales & Business Development
The three John Molson School of Business EMBA students, Raffaele Gerbasi, Marcello Iacovella and Frédéric Lefrançois, met in 2006 and are now at the head of WATERAX, a fire pump manufacturing company they snapped up from Tyco in a management buy-out in 2010. One of the fundamental reasons the three partners are now together are good core values and shared beliefs, they were very ambitious people who liked to work hard and play hard.
Iacovella is a WATERAX veteran. He joined the outfit in 1995, the year Montreal-based WAJAX sold its North American fire-control business to newly formed Wildfire Fire Equipment. Today, he is VP of Sales & Business Development of WATERAX, which has operations across Canada and in the U.S. Iacovella, Lefrançois, who left game giant Ubisoft to join WATERAX and Gerbasi, who has a pedigree of beefing up technology companies, began targeting companies to acquire. In 2009, Marcello called Raffaele and said WATERAX was on the block and asked him if he would be interested in looking at this together. He was. By then Gerbasi and Lefrançois had intimate knowledge of WATERAX — Iacovella had frequently made it a focus of his case studies.
The three EMBA graduates grasped the concept of the business model, customer base and different obstacles the company faced and always said what a waste of talent it would be not to get together and form a company one day.
They have not looked back since and this has sealed their friendship, partnership and fate.