Rector Machine Works traces its origins to Herv’s father, Herv Rector Sr., who founded the company in Espanola in the 1930s and moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1944. Herv Jr. took over the business in 1966 when his father passed away. He was only 22 and newly apprenticed as a machinist. There was only one employee in the shop and then-girlfriend Sandra to help with the books.
Today, Rector Machine Works is a thriving enterprise with between 35 and 40 full-time employees and a 12,000 square foot shop on three acres of land. The machine shop is equipped with a three-metre CNC lathe and milling centre, “so not only can we machine down a piece to circular form, but we can also cut a hex on it, and drill and tap it, so it’s a small milling machine incorporated into the CNC lathe,” said Dave Rector, the company’s sales force team leader.
There’s also a small, one-metre CNC lathe that machines pieces up to 26 inches long and between 12 and 15 inches in diameter.
Other services offered by Rector Machine Works include millwrighting, welding and fabrication, driveline manufacturing and reconditioning, hydraulic cylinder manufacturing and repair and onsite align boring.
The welding and fabrication department boasts a new HACO CNC large-capacity brake press and HACO shear, allowing it to efficiently handle bigger jobs. The department is also equipped with 5- and 10-ton capacity overhead cranes.
The driveline department manufactures and refurbishes drivelines for all-terrain vehicles, and transports, as well as mine trucks and underground loaders for the mining industry. The company also supplies shafts to Toromont CAT, a Caterpillar dealer with branches in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and Thunder Bay.
“When you’re in Northern Ontario, you have to dabble in a little bit of everything because if you don’t have it, they’ll go down the street,” said Dave.
Historically, Rector Machine Works focused on serving Sault Ste. Marie’s major employer, Algoma Steel. It branched out to serve the forest products industry when the local steelmaker fell on hard times, and only began targeting the mining industry in 2005 when Northern Ontario’s lumber and pulp and paper mills went wobbly.
The introduction to the mining industry was facilitated when people they knew and did business with in the forest products sector resurfaced in some of the area mines.
“They knew our reputation and the kind of work we do, so that helped, because it’s not easy getting into some of these mines, especially when they’re so far away,” said Mark, Rector Machine Works’ shop operations team leader. “Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine invited us up for a shutdown. We brought our personnel up there and they felt comfortable with us, so we’ve been invited back quite a few times. Other people from the forestry sector have moved on to Richmont Mines and Wesdome, so we’ve been quite fortunate.”
Rector Machine Works assembles crews of up to 16 skilled workers for repair and reconditioning work at Musselwhite.
“We work on conveyors, install easy skirting, change out pulleys and pans, reline chutes and we’re in the rod and ball mill, so we do a lot of structural work,” said Mark. “We also machine parts. We take parts out, send them back to the shop, recondition them and send them back to the site.”
Rector Machine Works also serves Essar Steel and Tenaris Algoma Tubes, the companies that have succeeded Algoma Steel.
While Herv and Sandy’s sons, daughters and daughter-in-law Karen all share the Rector name, it’s the whole company that’s part of the family.
As an example, “five or six guys took time off work to bring their sons or daughters to the first day of school, me being one of them,” said Mark. “We treat our employees fairly and get 110 per cent in return.”