Sackville’s Cam Tran electrical transformer plant officially opened today as company president Kyle Campbell cut the ceremonial red ribbon assisted by Mayor John Higham and MLA Bernard LeBlanc.
“This shop is already going,” Campbell told reporters pointing to big spools of gold-coloured, wire coils being manufactured for Hydro One, the Ontario electrical utility that sustained extensive damage to its transformers during a recent ice and wind storm.
“They’ve already shipped 300 coils,” Campbell added, “so, this plant is up and running.”
He noted earlier during a speech that while the plant wasn’t operating during the official opening ceremonies, it would be back to business first thing next week.
“Monday, we get at it,” he said drawing laughter when he added, “Everybody’s on profit sharing, so they’re quite excited to get at it.”
Campbell said that so far, Cam Tran has hired 17 skilled employees all of whom worked at the former Moloney plant. When the plant closed in 2016, 60 Moloney workers lost their jobs.
Campbell said that over the next five years, Cam Tran hopes to increase the plant’s workforce to between 50 and 65 workers manufacturing, repairing and renewing energy-efficient transformers for electrical utilities in the Caribbean and Atlantic Canada.
“We’re already starting to build those for Jamaica,” he said, “and then, the hope is eventually that the local utilities will give us a shot to earn their orders and business.”
He added that the work his company is already doing for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be moved here from its Ontario plant near Peterborough. Cam Tran (an abbreviation of Campbell and Transformer) is a family-owned company that also has plants in British Columbia and Alberta.
“This [Sackville] plant will build any pole-mount transformers that go into this market and into the Caribbean,” he said adding that the 36,000 sq. ft. plant will also be used to manufacture replacement equipment for utilities facing emergencies.
NB chips in
Liberal MLA Bernard LeBlanc announced that Opportunities New Brunswick is contributing up to $115,000 to help Cam Tran renovate the plant and purchase equipment. The Crown Corporation’s contribution is contingent on the company investing $575,000 on eligible capital expenditures, including equipment, land and renovations.
Meantime, Mayor Higham said the plant re-opening means a lot to him because it was his highest priority after being elected almost two years ago.
“It’s taken longer than I’d hoped,” he said. “The beauty of this location was the people who were working here, extremely skilled individuals that had the skills to bring this back to life.”
Higham added there were many barriers, including legal complications, that he and town staff had to help the company overcome.
“[It was] long, arduous, we had a couple of really bad days when we thought we’d lost it,” he said, adding that while it wasn’t legal for the town to contribute financially, “we did all we could in the communication, lobbying and advocacy areas.”