As we all navigated the many challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2021, Opportunities NB (ONB) remained committed to working with businesses to help them grow and succeed. And succeed they did – in all regions and communities across the province.
Today, we continue our regional look back at the many successes our province had in 2021, highlighting some of the most notable many success stories that we have been a part of along the way. ONB is dedicated to continuing to work with our federal, provincial, and sectoral partners to drive continued success this year and into the future.
We now shift our attention to the Northwest region of the province.
The Northwest Region (Carleton, Madawaska, and Victoria counties)
Clair-based Waska has been a major white cedar shingle manufacturer since 1969. In its effort to improve productivity and strengthen its competitive position, Waska invested heavily in building the world’s first fully automated cedar shingle manufacturing facility using modern 4.0 technologies. The results of this innovation? Lower production costs, reduced energy usage, enhanced efficiency, and a massive increase in employee safety.
“ONB shares Waska’s passion and desire to evolve,” notes Pierre Michaud, General Manager. “We have partnered with ONB, as well as NRC and ACOA, on several successful initiatives. I think Waska is a textbook example of great things being achieved in our small communities.
“Increased productivity is essential if we’re to compete globally, continue our growth trajectory, and attract more great talent. We went through two expansions that included purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and are still looking to improve,” said Jean-François Landry, CEO of JMN Enterprises Inc. of Saint-François-de-Madawaska. “We’ve made major investments in automation between 2019 and 2021. Including a scanner, cut-to-size sawing line, and an automatic glue clamp carrier. Our goal is to raise productivity company-wide by 25 per cent. Landry said further investments in lean manufacturing and ERP were done in 2021, and early results are positive.
Northwest New Brunswick’s panhandle is a powerhouse in the poultry industry. One of the region’s major players, Sunnymel, operates a busy poultry processing plant in Clair. Sunnymel specializes in everything from whole chickens to specialty cuts for home, market, and restaurants. To better meet their workforce needs, the company looked at immigration as the solution to filling vacancies and ensuring their output remained maximized. In 2021, 43 per cent of their new working population came from 15 different countries including Canada. This focus on recruiting international talent not only benefits companies like Sunnymel, it helps grow our provincial population, particularly our rural areas. It helps keep our schools open and breathes new life into our smaller communities.
Boise Cascade is the largest North American manufacturer and distributor of Engineered Wood Products with over 6,200 employees in 57 sites. The company’s ALLJOIST manufacturing facility in St-Jacques is the company’s only Canadian operation. In fall 2021, the company launched its new Diversity and Inclusion initiative. “Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of who we are and align with our four core values: integrity, safety, respect, and pursuit of excellence. We believe building a diverse team creates a stronger company,” said Plant Manager Daniel Grandmaison. Boise’s 2021 recruiting efforts saw the St-Jacques facility hire seven new employees from Senegal, a country with which the company has had excellent prior experiences. These immigration efforts complement existing recruitment strategies targeting local talent, assuring continued operations in St. Jacques.
Enflo is one of the largest makers of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) in North America and the only PTFE maker in Canada. With support from both ONB and ACOA, the company’s Grand Falls operation invested in three new extrusion machines in 2019/2020. This new equipment helped Enflo meet capacity constraints due to dramatic growth in extrusion products. The investment in this equipment has helped Enflo increase that product line’s sales by nearly $800,000 USD from 2018 to 2021, with sales expected to continue to increase into 2022. For 2021 alone (as of November), the extrusion product sales were tracking at 20 per cent growth over 2020.