December 19, 2013
Successful businessman, Lanny Huff, has always loved the Bay of Quinte. The opportunity to serve the American market from Ontario’s manufacturing hub, led Huff to start talking with his friend Max Drossbach about starting Drossbach North America. That was 35 years ago, and Huff’s tubing company, Drossbach, is still going strong in Quinte West (Ontario).
Huff’s VP of Operations, Jim Carlisle, has deep respect for his boss and Drossbach’s employees. “Anybody would love my workforce,” says Carlisle, who has led teams across the world, in Asia and the United States.
Carlisle is not a sugar-coater. He knows there are costs to running a company in Canada that lesser developed countries do not demand. Canada prioritises employee wages and regulations, to keep both companies and employees safe from some of the larger manufacturing heartaches and headaches.
Infrequently publicized, Canada’s facility and employee rules have an intrinsic, priceless ‘up side’ (largely responsible for driving company success): the asset of conscientious, diligent, highly skilled human capital.
“Most of our people are 10, 15, 20 year employees. We have a few (out of the 56, total) who’ve been here since Day 1,” says Carlisle. That kind of employee loyalty has a deep impact on the quality of product a plant can produce (as noted by a fellow regional company, Halla Visteon Climate Control (HVCC) Canada Inc.).
Long-term company knowledge builds trust and confidence in employees to share ideas and help the business continuously innovate, as Drossbach has done over the years.
Innovation in product line has been a factor for Drossbach North America’s success. “We serve automotive companies as well as the bilge markets in Canada and USA. Drossbach has always made time for small footages of tubing, unlike other tubing manufactories–it’s our niche.”
The Bay of Quinte is “a good place to innovate” says Carlisle.
Carlisle recognizes the Bay of Quinte region as superior to other places he’s worked. Industrial organizations receive support from the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) so that key contacts, resources and funds are more accessible, more quickly. Further, QEDC leads initiatives, like the Labour Report project and Manufacturing Resource Centre, to help local industry discover, monitor and avoid business pitfalls, keeping the region strong and safer from setbacks.
“We’re trying to develop a new tube right now and Chris King (QEDC) has connected me to the National Research Council, and that’s a big help. And the Research and Development yearly tax rebate really helps, too. We’ve had grants for different buildings, as well as the outsourcing of some tasks through other programs that are available.” Reflecting back on it all, Carlisle adds, “You know, it’s really hard to get help like that in the USA.”
Canada prioritizes such incentives because innovation brings jobs. “We’ll need several people to run that new machine once we build it,” says Carlisle.
The plant’s Quinte West location has always offered opportunity.
“Our Canadian sales are minimal compared to the sales we make to the States. In fact there wasn’t much of a market here when we started, but we could always sell to the USA.”
Moving product along the Highway 401 with multiple USA border crossings simplifies logistics for many companies who prefer to set up in Ontario than other parts of North America.
Canada’s high quality of life attracts business and helps companies like Drossbach North America flourish. “We want to be a good employer. Sure, sometimes people leave but quite often they want to come back.”
While Huff has sold other plants he started in the ensuing 35 years, Drossbach in Quinte West started with a love of the community and a friendship with a good European friend, and grew into a company whose tubing production now exceeds “30 million feet a month at our 55,000 square foot plant here in the Bay of Quinte.”
To better understand what innovation incentives are available for your company should you relocate or start manufacturing in Canada, call QEDC, or start listing your needs online.
Successful businessman, Lanny Huff, has always loved the Bay of Quinte. The opportunity to serve the American market from...