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Manufacturing going strong in Edmonton and area
Blanket statements about doing business in Alberta are dangerous things.
Conventional wisdom says manufacturing, outside the oil patch, is impossible.
We can compete against the Ch Oakley Sunglasses Outlet inese. We can compete against the oil patch for wages. We can compete in transportation. And our input costs are too high.
The business folks who don actually make real stuff have accepted these without critical examination.
There a minor problem. Those truths are not true.
Plastic products manufacturer Drader Manufacturing Industries Ltd, 55 years old, is not only going strong, but has expanded into Ontario. Most of Drader customers are not oil patch related.
Drader is hardly alone. According to Stats Canada figures passed on by EEDC, an astounding 1,791 manufacturers with less than 100 employees have plants in Greater Edmonton. How many serve customers outside the oil patch is not broken down.
Drader caught my attention at the ASTech Awards in November, honouring scientific achievement in Alberta.
It was the only industrial company to win an award, for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Technology and Innovation.
The award reveals why Drader and select manufacturers have soared, while others flounder.
It all about applied brainpower.
years ago, we toured University of Alberta mechanical engineering students through the plant, says Drader President Gordon McTavish. talked to the professor about container breakage challenges.
knowledge was deep. He offered to help with research. We were excited. Yongsheng Ma and his team bought Element Analysis to Drader. practical plastics expertise was combined with the university team scientific knowledge, software and equipment. The partnership bought new technology into existing products. Out of the collaboration have come lighter, stronger and cheaper plastic products. and his two sons, manufacturing VP Kevin and operations VP Jeff, know the real truth about successful manufacturing in Alberta. Using Oakley Sunglasses Outlet your brain, you must change and innovate. Or you will die.
Drader Manufacturing, started by local inventor Clarence Drader, was sold to an Edmonton business group in 1989, l Oakley Sunglasses Outlet ed by then banker, now managing partner Gordon McTavish. The shareholder group remains unchanged.
Why has the 65 employee, 55 year old locally owned company flown in the face of conventional wisdom, flourishing locally rather than being a conduit for made in China plastic products?
Because of innovation, brainpower, and, presumably, sound management. (As a private company, Drader does not release financial statements.)
These keys to success intermingle at Drader in so many ways.
Innovation: Making those lighter, cheaper and stronger bread trays is all about using technological advances. One operator can handles the work of two or three in the recent past.
Diversity of product: Whatever a customer wants, Drader can make: Pails and containers, hog barn flooring, storage bags.
Quality: Overseas product may be cheaper, but there are longer lead times, no customization and volumes must be vast. Who do you call if quality is an issue?
Human Resources: Employees like the company. They stick around. Drader manufactures around the clock, but has no problems filling the night shift. It works with plant floor operators many South Asian immigrants to meet their needs. On going training and upgrading is a given. Foreign students who once toured the plant are now landed immigrants, working in its design and engineering divisions.
Growth through acquisition: Drader recently bought Aero Foam, a company that made plastic products by applying heat to sheets of plastic over molds.
Growth through expansion: Drader expanded into Ontario in Oakley Sunglasses Outlet 2010, opening a new plastics manufacturing plant in Brampton, Ontario with 35 employees. was tough, says Gordon. competition, a slow economy, but now we seeing good growth. money from manufacturing in Northern Alberta can be done.