Cormer Expanding - Beyond Its Border

Cormer is breaking into uncharted territory, establishing facilities in new provinces and countries. The expansions in Mexico and New Brunswick not only mean new contracts for the Winnipeg-based comp any, but also more jobs in Winnipeg, says Cormer President Leo Sousa. “In the last year we’ve done quite a bit in terms of winning contracts and developing new lo cations,” says Sousa. “There a re a lot of new possibilities,” The Mexico expansion focuses on the aerospace side of Cormer’s activities, while the New Brunswick expansion involves the defense side. Currently, the Cormer team has selected the expansion site in Queretaro, Mexico and is starting improvement s. In Miramichi, N.B., the new facility is almost 24 Manitoba Aviation & Aerospace complete. “We’ve done all the improvements, we’ve done all the construction, we’ve got staff there now, and we’re just starting to wrap up production,” says Sousa.

Cormer in Mexico

Queretaro has become a hotbed for aerospace activity, says Sousa. “It has grown into a huge aerospace force. There are more aerospace companies down there than almost anywhere. Definitely 10 times the size of Winnipeg,” he says. Unlike other aerospace clusters, such as Montreal and Seattle, Queretaro’s market isn’t saturated yet, he adds, and there a re other companies already established in the area to support Cormer’s operations. Customers have also dictated that they require a Cormer presence in Mexico, describes Sandra Unik, senior manager of human resources, supply chain and corporate affairs for Cormer. When Cormer is doing machining, for instance, to meet a client’s price points work has to be done in the same geographic area. The new facility already has three contracts with Bombardier and one with Latecoere that will concentrate on aerospace structural components.

Cormer in New Brunswick

In Miramichi, the new facility also gives Cormer access to a number of other companies to help support manufacturing and land new contracts. The New Brunswick location concentrates o n land systems, meaning armored personnel carriers, for in stance. There is already a cluster of companies that concentrate on defense in Miramichi, Sousa says, many more than in Winnipeg. “Th at means when we’re looking for new customers, they’re looking for a cluster of companies,” he says. “Basically you want to go where all the action is.” The new facilities allow Cormer to better connect with customers, says Ron Petrinack, senior manager of IT services and communications at Cormer. “We’re trying to meet the needs of our customers by being where they’re located, helping strengthen them in their goals. That’s what we’re really trying to do with all the things that we’re engaged in,” he says.

The Winnipeg Impact

Both expansions are helping Manitoba operations grow, as well, say Sousa and Unik. “We are actually retaining and increasing our workforce in Winnipeg as a result of being able to open up in Mexico,” says Unik. “A lot of the work is being done up front here in Winnipeg. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.” A lot of the work will start in Winnipeg, says Sousa, before being transitioned, when production is stable, to the facilities in New Brunswick or Mexico. “Winnipeg is going to have to grow to support those other two facilities. It also means stable production. The whole goal is to fill up Winnipeg by winning contracts elsewhere and having a part of it done here,” he says. Because of all this new upfront work, it means bringing in more highly skilled employees to Cormer in Winnipeg, says Unik. Project management, engineering, CNC programing, manufacturing methods will all be developed in Winnipeg before heading to the other facilities. “This expansion is going to increase our capabilities by 50 per cent and there is a possibility that number will be reflected in the recruitment,” says Unik. Unik adds she can’t hire fast enough right now. “If I had 10 qualified candidates tomorrow, I would hire them and still keep on looking,” she laughs.

New Contracts

With all this new development also comes new aerospace contracts for Cormer. As mentioned, the Mexico location has already opened up opportunities with Boeing and Latecoere. Cormer has recently renewed and landed contracts with the Magellan Aerospace Wire Strike Program, Boeing 767 and 747, Boeing FIS, FACC and a couple of Bombardier programs. It’s definitely a time of growth for Cormer, Sousa says . He says Cormer will be concentrating on the projects and contracts at hand before thinking of further expansion in future. “Aerospace all over is a continually competitive environment from start to finish, so Cormer fits in quite well,” adds Unik. “It does reinforce our global positioning in the marketplace.”