Cam Tran is a family-owned Canadian company that, from its Sackville, New Brunswick-based facility, manufactures and repairs oil-filled distribution transformers for electric utility and contractor companies. The company is a coast-to-coast success, with additional manufacturing facilities located in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

Cam Tran purchased the assets of the former Moloney plant in 2018, hiring several of that operation’s former employees to launch this new facility, putting local labourers back to work in their fields. The company now employs approximately 40 people in Sackville, serving major clients like NB Power, Nova Scotia Power, and Maritime Electric.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the Sackville operation,” says President and CEO Kyle Campbell. “It’s become a highly efficient facility in a short time.”

ONB spoke to Campbell to learn more.

ONB: What advantages has Cam Tran seen from locating in New Brunswick, and in Sackville more specifically?

Campbell: The first is proximity to local utility companies. Transformers are large, heavy items that are not easily or cost-effectively transported long distances. When a hurricane or other natural disaster hits, people feel more secure knowing help is not far away. Secondly, and I can only speak to Sackville, but have dealt with enough customers, suppliers, and service providers in New Brunswick to say that the work ethic, drive to support each other, and general business culture here is the best I have experienced in my 40 years of building this business.

The cooperation from the Town of Sackville staff, from the Mayor on down, has been great. The contractors hired to help get the facility ready to run have been first-rate, and our employees are incredible. The overall experience in Sackville has been phenomenal.

Finally, one of our big growth targets is exporting. The New Brunswick operation puts us more competitively located to ports that serve our key target markets.

What has the company’s relationship been like with ONB?

From day one, it has been one of great collaboration and support. The relationship has been about more than just funding support from the onset. Early on, we turned to ONB for advice on who we could call for a large variety of needs and received more help than we even expected. It is a daunting task to start up a satellite factory from another province and to have a support line like ONB was massive in terms of getting us up and running in New Brunswick.

Manufacturing companies are continuously looking at ways to improve productivity using automation. Is that the case with Cam Tran? What would new automation mean for your New Brunswick facility and for the company as a whole?

We absolutely look at automation technologies that can help us meet competitive market expectations as well as technical standards challenges. Presently, we are analyzing technology that would improve both our capacity and cost control in Sackville and Ontario. In Sackville specifically, we will need to be both more cost-competitive and be able to increase capacity on a specific process/line – powder coat – to succeed at winning our next target customer group. If improved automation in this area succeeds we will be able to increase our employment in Sackville while improving job security for our incumbent staff as well.

What can you offer as advice for other manufacturers in this region looking at productivity improvements? Or for those that have not invested in new technologies?

If you are already in this region and have operations in other locations, you already know the secret. The work ethic of a happy New Brunswick workforce is second to none on this continent.

For productivity improvements, we lean heavily on a form of production incentive where our team feels they have real skin in the game and can see how they are doing on a daily and even hourly basis. I know that is not for everyone, but it works for our New Brunswick facility and for the company.

As for new technologies, my advice is to ensure you have invested in a great staff that will be responsible for getting intended gains from these new technologies. It is no good to have all the bells and whistles if you don’t have any idea how to properly operate them. I personally have failed forward at this and we are still learning. Set your accountable leaders up to succeed before you invest heavily in automation and technologies and you will reap what you have sewed. So says the leader that is still learning from his mistakes here.

ONB continues to tell the stories of companies already at work building that new New Brunswick we envision. Keep an eye on this space as well as on our social media: Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube