From whiskey to radio and from herbs to concrete, there are so many inspiring stories about companies operating and thriving in Eastern Ontario. At EOBJ, we’re lucky to be able to tell these stories and play our part in the continued economic growth of the region.
For our spring edition, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the companies that are on our radar for 2023. Some are expanding, others are introducing new products, and still others are making advances in sustainability. All have great stories to tell. Thanks to Phil and Catherine Gaudreau for their help in compiling the information.
So, while it’s not scientific in any way and there’s no particular order, we hope you enjoy our picks for companies to watch in Eastern Ontario. One thing I can say, it was hard to narrow the possibilities down to just this list. Here are the other five Companies to Watch for 2023:
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Going virtual: How CAE is revolutionizing military training around the world
When it comes to training the next generation of military personnel, CAE has always had its finger on the pulse.
SigmaPoint Technologies Inc.:
Pandemic player snapped up by German firm
What a difference a couple of years can make.
Cornwall-based SigmaPoint Technologies is a manufacturer of components for nuclear power plants, internet service providers and ventilators. It’s that last product that has helped make the company especially busy and attractive to investors in recent times. Within months of COVID-19 being identified in North America, the company was hard at work supporting a large-scale Canadian effort to make 10,000 ventilators for intensive care units across the country.
Skip ahead to spring 2021 and SigmaPoint announced a FedDev Ontario investment intended to help it improve the efficiency of its operations and expand the workforce. The investment spurred the company on to further growth. By spring 2022, SigmaPoint had swelled to a staff of 280 and an annual sales target of US$100 million.That was when German electronics manufacturing services firm KATEK announced its intent to purchase the company. The deal was finalized last fall. The acquisition has helped SigmaPoint’s operations continue to scale while achieving synergies in sales and manufacturing. The acquisition may also open up new markets for SigmaPoint, such as defence.
Despite the purchase by KATEK, two things aren’t changing for SigmaPoint: the local management team and the company’s name.
New methods could mean more homes, faster
Construction is hard work these days. Where do you find skilled workers? How do you keep up with material costs, transportation costs and quality assurance? 3D printing is exciting, but the scale isn’t there yet to replace traditional building.
Anchor Concrete has an intriguing solution: modular building units it calls Lodestar Structures. Unveiled in summer 2022, the patent-pending idea is a precast concrete floor with four concrete pillars. The Lodestar unit forms the basis of a structure, instead of traditional wood framing. Anytime more floor space is needed, just add another unit beside an existing one or stack one on top to go multi-storey.
Anchor claims using Lodestar in place of wood can trim as many as 20 days off the construction time of a traditional wood-framed detached house. There’s also no on-site assembly, minimizing the staff required, and no material waste. And they’re not just useful for housing. Lodestar structures have already been deployed in commercial construction, storage, recreational buildings, short-term construction projects, remote outpost buildings, shelters from severe weather, and more. The company says it has already seen demand from 24 countries and it’s working the trade show circuit this year to promote the product.
St. Francis Herb Farm:
Providing plant-based alternatives
St. Francis Herb Farm laid down strong roots during the pandemic and is reaping the harvest now.
Canada’s largest dedicated plant medicine facility opened its doors in 2021 in Barry’s Bay, as part of the company’s expansion. The new site, which involved a move from neighbouring Cormac, combined all of 35-year-old operations under one roof, expanded manufacturing capacity and warehousing, and grew its staff complement by 12 to 50. The growth of the company from a small home-based business was supported through a $1-million grant from the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. It was also helped by the recent cold and flu season and shortages of pharmaceuticals.
St. Francis is building on that momentum by getting the neighbouring farm up and running, where it will be growing various hard-to-find herbs, as well as developing a botanical education garden.
The company’s products, which include more than 100 herbal blends and supplements, are currently available through a variety of locations nationwide including Shoppers Drug Mart, grocery chains like Sobeys, independent local natural food shops, and online portals including Well.ca. As part of this expansion, St. Francis is currently looking to further grow its sales through export opportunities to the U.S. and other international markets through Amazon and Fullscript, an Ottawa-based online supplement platform.
Fortier Stark Industrial:
Putting all the right pieces together
A year after groundbreaking, Fortier Stark Industrial (FSI) has finished construction and is working to fully operationalize its new 7,200-square-foot facility in Winchester. The recent investment of more than $1.5 million makes it possible for the company to grow its capacity to manufacture stainless steel tanks and process piping skids for the food, dairy and beverage industries.
While most of its clients are located within 90 minutes of Winchester, co-founder Curtis Fortier says the company is exploring the possibility of international exporting by the end of 2023.
The company provides custom fabrications, designs, and builds, and specializes in high-pressure pipe welding and fabrication, mobile welding and millwright services. Winchester provides a central location for all FSI’s current clients, making it easy to transport people, equipment and parts to job sites.
Now in its sixth year, FSI has doubled in size in the last 12 months thanks to strong industry interest. It is currently recruiting for several technical roles including welders, pipe fitters and millwrights.
“My business partner Joseph Stark and I are proud of what we have accomplished so far,” says Fortier. “We have a great team and look forward to using our new technologies and exploring new product offerings in the coming months.”
On the path to sustainability
There has been a lot of attention in recent years on how emissions from farms contribute to environmental damage, with fertilizer and methane emissions getting most of the bad press. One major food producer in the region is trying to do something about it.
In 2022, Burnbrae Farms, which has two facilities in the Brockville area and additional operations in southern Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, released its first public sustainability report and announced its intention to become carbon neutral by 2050.
The commitment follows the company’s efforts, which started in 2016, to track emissions. It also follows Burnbrae’s purchase of two solar fields — one in 2019 and the other in 2021 — aimed at reducing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and increasing its use of renewable energy.
The company’s sustainability plan, which has 28 goals, includes a mix of new and existing objectives. It plans to promote water conservation within its facilities, support innovation and clinical research trials on egg nutrition, and transition its chickens out of traditional housing by 2036. It also sets a waste diversion goal of 100 per cent by the end of 2025, up from the current 92 per cent.
In addition to operating five of its own farms, along with distribution and production facilities, Burnbrae partners with 400 Canadian farmers across the country.
Sprague Foods Ltd.
Sprague Foods, which cans organic and natural food products in the Bay of Quinte Region, has used a $500,000 provincial grant to support a $5.6-million expansion. Growing its Belleville operations is enabling Sprague to rapidly increase distribution to the United States and across Canada.
Les Ateliers Beau-Roc
A $4.1-million investment from FedDev Ontario will help Les Ateliers Beau-Roc purchase and install new manufacturing equipment and expand a new, energy-efficient factory. Boosting production will enhance Beau-Roc’s sales across Canada and the U.S., cut delivery lead times and create more than 30 skilled jobs in Eastern Ontario. Les Ateliers Beau-Roc is a woman-owned and -led, francophone manufacturer of custombuilt dump truck bodies and accessories.
When Canada’s fleet of F-35s takes to the skies, it will do so with hardware made in Canada. Magellan Aerospace, a Canadian company with international operations, maintains manufacturing facilities in Haley Station, just northwest of Renfrew, among other Ontario locations. The company has built “complex structural assemblies and other components for the global F-35 program since the initial system design and development phase.” Jet deliveries are expected to start in 2026, with the full fleet ready by 2032.
In this newest issue of the Eastern Ontario Business Journal newsmagazine, readers will find an invaluable resource for insight into the region’s industries and many areas of growth, as well as spotlights of businesses and entrepreneurs making their mark and our list of 2023 Companies to Watch. Covering business from Kingston to Russell, spanning the Ottawa Valley and St. Lawrence River, EOBJ is an insider’s guide to this unique region and its business landscape, crucial for every community leader, executive, entrepreneur or resident. From housing and manufacturing to tourism and the arts, this newsmagazine contains exclusive, curated content for those who live, work, and play in Eastern Ontario.