Wilson Tool’s newest manufacturing plant in Canada, a 4,366 sq m (47,000 sq ft) facility in Toronto, is one of seven production facilities the company operates around the around the globe, and it’s one of two operations in Canada.
“The facilities we build are where our customers are located,” says Chris Lawless, president of Wilson Tool who was on hand for the grand opening of the new plant in April. “In Canada, while business has drifted a bit, it’s still a strong market and it has a stable business environment.”
In fact, the new facility will be making products for customers in Canada and the US and possibly even for Mexico.
“This facility makes some of the products we sell in US and with the exchange rate right now, it’s more of an advantage for price conscious customers. This facility won’t just serve the local market and if there is opportunity to export into the US and Mexico, we’ll do tha
The new operation manufactures punches and dies for the metal stamping industry as well as products from Wilson Tool’s turret line. The new building was selected in part because of the layout, says Judy White, general manager of Wilson Tool Canada.
“The previous facility wasn’t efficient in the way it was laid out and it was difficult to move equipment. So we were looking for a building with one big open space that would help us with our processes, as we practice Lean manufacturing.”
The manufacturing process starts with raw bar that gets cut and turned or milled, depending on the product. Parts then go through a heat treat process that is outsourced and then come back for finishing operations, including centreless grinding.
The facility houses 112 machines that include lathes, mills and EDMs. Wilson Tool employs 63 people at the new Toronto location, including many long-term employees with more than 30 years of service and one with 44 years of service, says White.
Lawless is optimistic about growth for Wilson Tool in North America.
“We think there’s work coming back from China because people are realizing that manufacturing is sometimes better when it’s done closer to home and it’s our model. There’s a lot of cost to manufacturing offshore and bringing it here. We do manufacture in Shanghai, but we’re not shipping product out of there for here; it’s to serve that local market.”