Tanks, Lead Free Solutions, And The Mining Industry 

The Story of Industrial Rubber Inc, and Barry Kyle’s legacy of Innovation

From building tanks to supplying the mining industry and creating lead-free bullets, Barry Kyle has been an innovative force in Bathurst since joining Industrial Rubber Inc, in 1978.

Barry was born the son of a miner who bounced around from Quebec to Ontario, before having to decide between Bathurst, New Brunswick and New Mexico in the early 70s. With the Vietnam war in full swing, and no hockey in New Mexico, it wasn’t a hard choice for the Kyle family to make.

In 1978, after graduating from Mount Allison University, Barry came home to a job offer at a 6000 square foot plant to do rubber coatings. This was what Barry had done throughout his four summers as a university student, when he came back home to work at Brunswick Mines. 

“It was either that or the RCMP, and this gave me a chance to stay home,” says Barry. 

Barry worked and expanded his knowledge until 1986, when he learned that the previous owner wanted to sell the plant and an opportunity to purchase it arose. With partners in Denmark, he bought out the previous owner, and a couple years later bought out his Danish counterparts, becoming sole owner of Industrial Rubber Inc, in 1988.

 “In the 80s, there was a lot of industry here,” says Barry. “And a lot of industry requires a lot of coatings from steel wearing out.”

The business continued to grow, with all the rubber coatings being supplied to a multitude of mines all within a four-hour radius.

On a trip to Gagetown with a friend in 84, Barry hopped in to see if there was an opportunity within the military sector to get some work. Upon arriving at the military base, Barry asked what they did for maintenance on tank tires. They informed him they sent the tires to Germany and then brought them back to New Brunswick. Barry said, “we can do that right here.”

He was taken up on his offer, and took 20 tires back to the plant in Bathurst.

“We didn’t have any of the presses we have now. Back then, all we had was a vulcanizing machine,” Barry says with a laugh. But the job was done, and the military applauded the great work.

After going through the process of getting registered to contract with the military in Ottawa, Industrial Rubber became the sole source of Road Wheels for tanks in Canada.

They weren’t through yet. The next step was to see how else they could service tanks. Barry thought of pads. Since there are 336 pads on each tank, he knew there was a lot of opportunity there. Then they began selling pads all over the world. Supplying anyone who used the Leopard 1 or 2, which are the main battle tanks for all NATO countries. 

After some meetings in Germany, they realized they could begin supplying components. Things like shocks, tracks, and drives.

In 2010, they successfully bid to work on 18 heavy (60 Ton) armored vehicles designed to remove heavy equipment from battlefields, ensuring no equipment is left behind. To do this, they needed to rent out an old machine shop and fix it up in order to have a place to work. 

They’ve since won a bid for another contract for 19 Canadian tanks returning from Afghanistan.

Work on the military side is going great, but that isn’t the only industry that keeps Industrial Rubber Inc in business. In the early 2010s, after hearing that Brunswick Mines would soon close, Barry opened a plant in Labrador, where mining is still going strong. 

On top of all of this, Industrial Rubber has also created a core component for lead-free bullets. With lead poisoning rampant in many places around the world, it’s another interesting and innovative solution. 

Barry has had an incredible career. 18 months ago, his two sons and nephew bought him out and now he’s helping with the rollover period, so when he leaves for good, the company is in the best possible hands.

Barry is happy that he stayed in Bathurst for his entire working career. He’s proud of bringing people to Bathurst from all over the world, and he says most importantly he’s happy that he built a business that doesn’t need to compete with other business owners who are trying to make it work in Bathurst.

“There’s a limited market here, and I was never trying to compete with anyone.”

Barry’s career is nothing short of outstanding, and Industrial Rubber Inc must be Bathurst’s best kept secret.

Thank you for joining us on another edition of The Northern Heat Report. The place you come to listen to the stories that haven’t yet been discovered.