Mark Thomas won’t get many opportunities to correct a provincial minister.
His wasn’t an aggressive statement. But the International Beam Inc. Director of Marketing and Sales and Thursday’s MC made a mild alteration to Provincial Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Dr. Eric Hoskins’ statement about the company being ready to compete in the international marketplace.
“We’re not ready to compete,” said Thomas. “We’re ready to win.”
Winning all around was the theme Thursday morning as minister Hoskins dropped by the 10 Rouse Street mill to officially announce a $2.4 million loan from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) in support of expansion.
“It’s a good day, good news, good for everyone around here,” said International Beam Inc. Controller Erwin Fritz, prior to the ceremony.
The mill has hired 26 full-time employees since start-up in August 2012, says Fritz, “all brand-new jobs,” and with SWODF support, is projecting an additional 29 full-time positions.
“By the end of next year, we hope to be at 55.”
That target is tied to contingencies in the low-interest SWODF loan, said Fritz.
“If we hit our job targets correctly, there is a forgivable portion.”
The company has another plant in Quebec, but says Fritz, the Tillsonburg facility is positioned well to take advantage of new target markets in the central United States and beyond.
International Beam Inc. is an technologically-innovative, highly-productive mill which creates wooden I-joists from certified sustainable-sourced wood, cutting an initial 64-foot length down from there to order. Any wooden by-product from the process is sold to another company, which turns it into wood pellets.
“There is no waste,” said International Beams Inc. President Bruno Lebel of an environmentally-friendly approach. “It’s a closed loop.”
Ninety per cent of the company’s market is in the United States, and 99% of that the residential market.
“So the timing is good for us,” said Fritz. “The U.S. recovery is starting to take hold.”
International Beams Inc. is looking to expand upon existing markets along the American east coast said Lebel, “basically serving 50 states and 10 provinces with our product.”
SWODF funding was crucial to the expansion, said Lebel, extending personal thanks to Minister Hoskins during his speech.
“Without your government’s support, the scale and scope of our plant would not have been as ambitious.”
Minister Hoskins touched all bases, leading off by crediting the company’s employees for their talent, skills “and everyday effort to make this work;” Lebel for his “vision and his commitment to this industry and sector;” combining in “a remarkable investment in a remarkable community.”
International Beams Inc. is a natural fit for SWODF funding said Hoskins, post ceremony. “The job argument is solid,” he said, both in direct and spinoff terms, locally and beyond, with regards to transportation and supporting Northern Ontario’s forestry industry. The company is also technologically-sound, Hoskins continued, productive, environmentally-friendly and export-driven.
“They tick off pretty well every box we are looking for. And they have a proven track record as well.”
Tillsonburg Mayor John Lessif was on hand for ‘another good news story for the town, in light of the expansion of an ‘internationally-innovative company, enhancing Tillsonburg’s employment numbers.
As an aside, and in part perhaps related to his position as South Central Ontario Region (SCOR) chair, Lessif was also pleased to see provincial economic development dollars coming back to a small rural/urban community.
“They’re not all headed toward urban centres.”
International Beam Inc. has already proven a good corporate citizen credited Lessif, and Lebel an unofficial ambassador speaking highly of the quality of Tillsonburg’s workforce and cooperation of the town.
For his part, Lebel thanked The Town of Tillsonburg.
“Everyone we have worked with has been most accommodating and we look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship.”
He also thanked local suppliers and contractors, and the employees for their appreciated time and effort, before escorting Minister Hoskins to the mill’s second level, for an official production line start-up ceremony.
“It’s a great day here,” Lebel concluded with a smile.