I’m Sergio Cipriani. I’m the blanking operations manager for North America. We’re a division of Samuel and Son.
Blanking is the process where you take a coil of steel and you turn it into a flat piece that then goes into the OEM stamping facilities, and they make fenders, hoods, body sides, whatever they need to make which is what part of the car is, the structure of the car.
We do have something in every car that’s assembled in Ontario, which we’re proud of, obviously.
For us, our focus is primarily on automotive. I’d say about 90 to 95% of everything we make is automotive related.
We also have a new business we got into about 4 or 5 years ago for the HVAC high efficiency furnace.
Our division has seen tremendous growth. Over the years we’ve had 3 expansions. We’ve added various lines to our building. It started with a 40,000 square foot building, and it has grown, obviously, to a 140,000 square feet.
The city has been a big force in both helping us start up the business and also get started with the people and incentives that they required to get going.
The biggest incentive was it was very affordable for the land. That’s what caught the attention of the senior management team. Back in the mid to late 80’s they had to come through Brantford through Garden Ave to get to Highway 2 to get back to Hamilton. There was a sign that basically said “Dig in here, land dirt cheap”, which caught their attention. That was such a good sign for them that they went right to City Hall and pursued how they could get 11 acres of land where we sit today. So the city has been very helpful and we had our 25 year celebration obviously they came and celebrated with us.
We all know the cost of freight has gone up tremendously in the last decade, and our location is very central. If you look where we are; we’re very close to all the assembly plants, we’re close to the mill runs from Hamilton whether they come from Hamilton or even from the States, so we’re able to attract that and minimize the impact of freight.
The Industrial Parks are excellent, the access to the highways has improved tremendously over the years, and the labour force is a young, eager-to-learn workforce which for any company is what you need to grow your talent pool.
The last 2 years we’ve had tremendous growth. We’ve added 35% of our workforce. We’ve a very good group, very experienced group. Half of them have probably been here since, you know, very close to the start, so they’ve got lots of experience, lots of talent, lots of ability. Most of them are within an hours drive or a half an hours drive actually. There’s a few that are living right in the city, so it’s nice to see that.
We have a good relationship with the college system. We’ve had a good recruiting ability here in town.
About 50% of our workforce in the next 10 years will be looking the other way. They’re going to be looking at retirement so obviously it’s very important for sustainability to have a good group coming up and learning the skills.
We don’t back down from challenges. We are ISO and TS 16499. We are basically a supplier that can supply the quality standards that the automotive companies are looking for. We’ve shown through our history of supporting them that we can keep that going.
The opposite of what Economists say, which is that the manufacturing sector is shrinking, here in Brantford, and in Samuel in particular, it is growing. We are seeing a lot of opportunities to expand the business, so it’s a good story. It’s a growth story.
As far as I’m concerned, it is a bright future for this facility.