April 15, 2020
Miltex Solutions in Quinte West, Ontario produces military textile products to support the Canadian Department of National Defence. About 90% of production is getting military kit to Canadian troops in the field to support their missions.
Advanced Defence Manufacturer Provides High-Tech Ingenuity
President and ex-military parachute jumper, Guy Plamondon, provides experience and insight to find practical textile and mechanical solutions for military situations, including the following.
- Textile sewing to produce parachutes including full assembly and packing by qualified riggers
- Mechanical deployment devices for parachutes if the ripcord is not pulled
- Production and repacking of life raft kits for search and rescue
- Tactical equipment, magazine pouches, and special forces equipment
Highly Engaged Workforce Excited to Meet the Challenge
Currently, Miltex has 27 highly engaged, local employees who are skilled in textile production. Although much of the Canadian textile industry has moved overseas, Miltex has created very specialized skilled and niche work that is viable and sustainable in the Bay of Quinte area. Federal and provincial programs are available to help fund training.
Younger people are seeing sewing as a rewarding career. The Miltex employees also feel like they are helping our Canadian troops, making a difference, and even saving lives. They enjoy working with their hands to create a product locally that helps military personnel at the local 8 Wing CFB Trenton, the largest airforce base in Canada.
“There is a real community feel that they are helping their neighbours,” says Lisa Donovan, Finance Director at Miltex in Quinte West.
Miltex Paying it Forward with Patriotism During Pandemic Fight
When the COVID-19 pandemic changed the economy, Miltex could have laid everyone off, but didn’t. Instead, they used their patriotic ingenuity and came up with several different ways they could use their talent and supplies to help others.
- Advanced Manufacturing Machinery Repurposed for PPE: When Quinte HealthCare requested home-sewers to make 10,000 gowns, Miltex generously donated their time and machinery to cut the material much faster, bringing the cutting time down from a month to a week. Home-sewers were then able to pick up pre-cut kits from Fun with Stitches, getting personal protective equipment to front line workers much faster. Currently under contract for masks for DND.
- Protecting Employees and Families while Continuing Operations: Miltex provides masks for their employees, and their friends and family to protect them while the employees continue to attend work (with extra cleaning and social distancing).
- Donations to Assist Community Health Care Facilities: Miltex has also donated masks to local groups in need, such as a mental health organization, Community Care, and a foster home. Another project involved sewing 1000 gowns for nursing homes in Peterborough, including donating the material.
- Safeguarding Local Manufacturers Who Provide Essential Services: Miltex is selling cotton masks at cost to a food industry organization in Cobourg so that they can stay open and provide essential services.
- Strengthening Advanced Manufacturing in the Bay of Quinte Area: There has always been value in producing products locally. The pandemic has highlighted the value and necessity of strong, local economies that can produce the majority of products needed by their community.
Collaborative Approach from Economic Development Community
“There’s a very collaborative approach. Our customers are here at the Trenton base, the biggest airbase in Canada. That’s why we are here – to support the troops living in our community.” Lisa Donovan
Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) helps local businesses connect with customers, partners and the local skilled labour force.
The manufacturing community pulls together, which is highlighted by the creation and popularity of the Quinte Manufacturers Association (QMA). The QMA is a locally driven and controlled organization focused on the needs of the Greater Bay of Quinte manufacturing community. Membership is free to manufacturers, as QEDC provides administrative and financial support to the QMA.
“We feel a great pride – Canadian pride – in being able to continue to operate during the pandemic. We’ve been able to keep everyone on salary, shift our manufacturing to provide essential equipment to the community, and continue to serve our military partners who keep us safe every day. That’s what being a Canadian company is all about.” Lisa Donovan
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