Maska Pulleys celebrates major expansion
By Carroll McCormick
Canada's sole pulley manufacturer celebrated the grand opening of its new 105,000-sq ft manufacturing plant in October. The new facility was necessary as the privately-owned Saint-Claire, Que., compan...
Canada’s sole pulley manufacturer celebrated the grand opening of its new 105,000-sq ft manufacturing plant in October. The new facility was necessary as the privately-owned Saint-Claire, Que., company, located southeast of Quebec City, has experienced an annual growth rate of 20 to 30 per cent over each of the past five years.
About 250 guests, including suppliers, business leaders and 80 agents from distribution centres in the United States, toured the manufacturing area where 5,000 different types of pulleys are produced. The well-lit, spacious plant is five times the size of the original Maska facility, which had already been enlarged several times since it was built in 1964, the year the company was founded.
The $13.5-million plant was built in two phases: Construction began on 45,000 sq ft of manufacturing space and sales offices in 1997. Maska’s Saint-Claire distribution centre was also enlarged in the same year. Phase two construction began in 1999 and Maska completed the move of its entire operations into the facility in July, 2000. The plant employs 170 people and operates three eight-hour shifts a day, five days a week.
The entrance of the new plant opens into a spacious atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows. A staircase opens on to a broad second-storey balcony overlooking the atrium. The balcony, which connects the sales offices, boardroom and other upstairs offices, was crowded as Maska president Yvon Fortier welcomed guests and spoke about the project and the company on closed-circuit television.
Outside the boardroom, two glass cabinets display some of the company’s certificates and awards: ISO 9001: 1994, signed January 25, 2000; certified quality supplier of ADC; member of the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Quebec; and one of the Best-Run Private Companies in Canada in 1996–one of six years in which Maska has received this honour.
In the programming room downstairs, accessible only by pass card, six closed-circuit televisions monitor critical areas of the plant, including two large yellow robots that silently swung back and forth between tasks during our visit.
In the manufacturing area, it’s a maze of colour. Grey metal shelving and large wire bins store cast pulleys and bearing housings next to dozens of machines and blue-clad workers. Products ready for shipping wait on tall orange racks and blue-painted pulleys dry on wire hangers.
Every day, two transport trucks take the finished products across town to Maska’s distribution centre. “From there,” says Gilles Pelland, Maska’s manager of special projects, “we ship five trucks of product a week to all the distribution points in Canada and the United States.” Maska ships directly to clients in all Canadian provinces and to 17 U.S. distribution centres. It is one of the top pulley manufacturers in North America.
The company’s business expansion is ongoing. In September, 2000, Maska established its first agent in Mexico. By January, 2001, the company will have agents in all of South America. Maska’s products are sold in North America and Europe and can be found doing their job, says Fortier, “even at the foot of the Egyptian Pyramids.”
Senior contributing editor Carroll McCormick is based in Montreal.