Canada’s bedrock: Job shops in Canada

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G B Fabrication
Ghislain Levasseur, a certified truck and car mechanic, and his brother Bruno,

a certified machinist, formed G B Fabrication in 1998. The shop offers manual and CNC machining, plasma cutting and welding. Diversity has been key to keeping this small shop in business. Located in the 2,000-plus parish community of St. Joseph-de-Madawaska, at the borders of New Brunswick and Quebec to the West and the state of Main to the South, the Levasseur brothers have become both specialists and generalists to meet the varied needs of their customers. The company manufactures high pressure pumps for a local customer, but is also known locally for repairs for machines and machine components in paper mills and other local industrial businesses.

Ghislain and Bruno Levasseur, co-owners, St. Joseph-de-Madawaska, NB
506 739 8691

Robertson Machine Ltd.
Roy Mannett formed Robertson Machine in 1966 and continued to work in the business until his daughter Lynn Lawrence, who has a financial background, and his son Barry, who has worked on the floor as a machinist since he was a teenager, purchased the company in 2005. The 464 sq m (5,000 sq ft) facility is “old school” style machine, fabrication and weld shop, as Lawrence describes it, equipped with lathes, mills, press brakes, ironworkers and a plasma cutter. It’s a certified Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) Group facility and is qualified for flux cored arc welding (FCAW), metal cored arc welding (MCAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), and F3/F4 high pressure welding. While the company has looked at CNC equipment, Lawrence says the shop doesn’t have the volume to justify the cost of converting the shop to CNC. Instead, the focus is on repairs, in the shop and off site at customers’ plants. Key industries the shop services include structural steel, wind turbine, boiler, plant maintenance and drilling.

Lynn Lawrence and Barry Mannett, co-owners, Riverview, NB
506 387 4600

Precinov serves the high tech market and to serve it well, owner and president Mathieu Deblois, a mechanical engineer, has invested in high end CNC machining technology, including Matsuura three, four and five axis machines, and Nakamura multi-tasking lathes. A Matsuura five axis machine is equipped with a collaborative robot. Formed in 2005, the 743 sq m (8,000 sq ft) CNC machine shop serves high technology markets such as optical fiber, laser, electronics, and medical, specializing in small complex and detailed parts and tight tolerance specifications.

Mathieu Deblois, president, St. Romuald, QC
418 839 1133 

Fire and Iron Custom MetalworkIan Gordon says he sees an opportunity to resurrect the small, domestic fabricating market in Canada.

Ian Gordon, a welder, formed Fire & Iron Custom Metalwork in 2014. Gordon says he decided to start his business because he saw the opportunity to fill a gap in the market: servicing the small, local domestic market. The business operates out of a 111 sq m (1,200 sq ft) shop in downtown London. The shop houses two hand plasma cutters and six welding machines, including welding for aluminum (MIG), stainless (TIG), and stick. The shop is also equipped with small shears and benders, as well as some blacksmith tools. Gordon plans to expand the shop to between 465 to 929 sq m (5,000 and 10,000 sq ft) in the near future and invest in equipment to create a “semi-automated manufacturing facility.”

Ian Gordon, owner, London, ON
226 224 4455

Attica Manufacturing
Andy Mavrokefalos formed Attica Manufacturing in 2002, but his experience in a machine shop began long before that when he was 14 working alongside his father at C&M Machine Works, a company his father founded with partners and subsequently purchased. A manufacturing technology graduate from Fanshawe College in London, ON, his focus on the business helped spur growth. Last year, the custom CNC machine shop moved into a new 4,925 sq m (53,000 sq ft) and opened a US machining operation in Michigan to meet the needs of a growing US customer base. Key services include milling, turning with live tooling and five axis machining, and reverse prototyping, with plans to expand into fabricating and welding, which is currently outsourced. The shop houses a variety of machine tools (CNC turn/mill centres, VTCs, VMCs and HMCs, and surface and cylindrical grinders) and brands ranging from a five axis DMG MORI to a Doosan turning centre with live tooling. The shop has the ability to design and build its own jigs and fixtures, a service it often uses to address unique customer part machining needs. It serves a variety of markets including healthcare, energy, automotive, food and beverage, and military. Attica employs 48 people in its London facility and an additional four people in its Michigan shop.

Andy Mavrokefalos, president and owner, London, ON
519 451 5448

Amazing Kobotic Industries Inc.
Fred Lai, left, with Amedeo Pellegrino, senior vice president, in front of one of the shop's robotic welding systems.
Fred Lai, president, oversees Amazing Kobotic Industries, a family-owned business with a 4,000 sq m (43,000 sq ft) fabricating and welding shop. The ISO 9002-2008 certified company employs 53 people and operates two shifts. The company generates approximately $1.2 million in sales annually.

It services a diverse range of markets such as electronics, HVAC, hospital lighting, store fixtures, appliances and automotive. It has built a reputation for automated welding processes using multi-axis robots. It has leveraged its expertise in this area by building automated welding cells for customers. It also offers laser cutting, CNC punching and forming processes and implements automation in its processes wherever it can, to help improve fabricating efficiencies, says Lai.

Fred Lai, owner and president, Mississauga, ON
905 712 1000


Kinetic Machine WorksDale Place, faced some challenging years when he formed the business, but he persevered and has created a successful manufacturing business that continues to grow.
When Dale Place formed Kinetic Machine Works in Selkirk, MB, in 1999, he had trouble being taken seriously. At 19 years old, he was the youngest Red Seal certified journeyman machinist in the country, wore braces and had just opened up his business.

“It was a difficult first five or six years because people don’t take you seriously and banks won’t give you money. For the first couple of years I used Money Marts. When I was about 25 years, the banks began to take me seriously. Now that I run a successful business in a 28,000 sq ft operation, the banks are fighting for my business.”

Kinetic’s key to success has been “not to focus on anything and do everything.” The shop houses CNC and manual lathes and mills, waterjet and plasma cutting machines, and is certified for structural welding jobs. The company has worked on a diverse range of jobs, such as building MRI tables shipped to customers around the world, building ships and barges and performing turbine rebuilds.

Dale Place, CEO, Selkirk, MB
204 785 1536

Saskpro Machine Works Ltd.
Tyler Metz formed Saskpro Machine Works Ltd. in 2002 with his wife Jody. A trained machinist with an entrepreneurial bend, Tyler Metz worked in the potash mining industry after graduating from his machinist program and realized there was an opportunity to service the market with a machine shop. Today, the 465 sq m (5,000 sq ft) shop employs 12 people, six of which work in the machine shop, including Metz. The shop services primarily the mining (potash), energy (oil and gas) and construction markets using a variety of lathes, milling machines, drill presses, and surface grinders. The company also offers fabricating services via a plasma cutting machine as well as welding, and is in the midst of attaining CWB welding certification. Among the company’s specialties is on site, portable machining services and consulting services for repair and manufacturing in the mining, construction, agriculture and energy markets. Metz says the company’s strength lies in machining know-how. “I don’t want to become a me-too business. I want to offer unique services to our customers and create value through our machining experience and our knowledge.”

Tyler Metz, CEO, Esterhazy, SK
306 745 6440


Precimax Mfg Ltd.Brothers Pete, left, and Dave Kool, run Precimax Mfg. Ltd., a business their father Morris opened in 1976.
Morris Kool opened his machine shop in 1976 to handle difficult-to-machine parts that others couldn’t handle. Today, sons and owners Pete and Dave Kool run the 1,858 sq m (20,000 sq ft) newly ISO-certified shop that houses CNC and conventional Sodick EDMs and a variety of CNC mills and lathes, including five axis milling, turning centres with live tooling, Mazak machining centres, Haas milling machines, and Okuma slant bed lathes. The company employs 18 people, including the Kool brothers, and all the people in the shop are trained journeymen. The shop machines a variety of alloys, including steel, stainless steel, and high nickel and high temp alloys. Precimax can handle a range of orders from prototype one-offs to small and large production runs. It houses a temperature controlled quality control room equipped with a Mitutoyo CMM, a Starrett optical comparator and other inspection tools.

Pete Kool, general manager, Edmonton, AB
780 436 2301

Wright Machine Works Ltd.Wright Machine Works has earned a reputation for quality, primarily because of owner Kurt Schonfelder.
Wright Machine Works was formed in 1997. The fabricating and welding shop has earned a reputation for quality, namely because owner Kurt Schonfelder “goes through every piece of work with a fine tooth comb before it gets sent out to customers,” says Troy Tompkins, manager.

The 4,000 sq ft shop houses a plate cutting tracer flame type machine and MIG, TIG and stick welding equipment from Lincoln and Miller. It also sub-contracts out laser, waterjet and plasma cutting jobs. The shop can cut plate up to 76.2 mm (3 in.) thick and the cutting tables can handle parts measuring 1.5 by 3 m (5 by 10 ft). It can cut steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and T400 and T100 plates.

The shop services local industry, such as forestry, but also goes farther afield for mobile welding for customers such as Hydro and CP Rail.

Troy Tompkins, manager, Revelstoke, BC
250 837 5034



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