Timely, quality work sharpens steel fabricator’s edge
Nor-Arc Steel Fabricators serves mining industry across Canada as part of a diversified client base
Asked what advantages its Earlton location offers Nor-Arc Steel Fabricators, company president Mario Léveillé pauses momentarily.
“Very little traffic in the morning,” he replies with a smile. Surrounded by picturesque dairy farms and lush fields of canola, soybeans and hay, Nor-Arc’s manufacturing centre in the heart of Ontario’s Little Claybelt, 250 kilometres northeast of Sudbury, has few neighbours and plenty of open space.
But while traffic to work may be light, transport trucks heading out of the plant are laden with heavy metal – engineered components and equipment, designed and manufactured to exacting standards and construction schedules.
“We supply components for the mining industry, forestry, energy and construction,” said Léveillé, whose father François and uncles Denis, Raymond and Alphonse founded the company in 1975.
The family’s second generation, including Mario’s brother Yves Léveillé, vice-president of construction, and cousin Pascal Léveillé, production manager, bought the company in 2007.
Staying true to its rural industrial heritage, Nor-Arc also offers general welding repairs to trailers and farm equipment in this agricultural region near some of Canada’s most prospective geology and richest mineral and precious metal producers.
Nor-Arc specializes in custom fabrication. A large percentage of clients are within 300 kilometres. “Within that radius we will do design, supply and installation,” Léveillé said. The firm has manufactured and shipped components to Mexico, Haiti and Chile. It serves customers in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador and the United States.
“We manufacture on demand, as per the client’s specifications and drawings,” said Léveillé, who also serves as Nor-Arc’s general manager.
The company has made many shopfabricated or field-erected tanks for Vale’s Voisey’s Bay Mine in Labrador, Sudbury’s Xstrata Nickel (now Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations) and AuRico Gold in Matachewan.
“We also do plate work like ducting or stacks and chimneys, structural steel and conveying equipment,” Léveillé said.
It also supplied structural steel and rubberlined, abrasion-resistant steel chutes for the De Beers Victor diamond mine near Attawapiskat.
Closer to home, Nor-Arc supplied and installed truck dump chutes for Lake Shore Gold in Timmins, supplied and erected tanks for Kirkland Lake Gold and furnished components for Glencore Recycling’s Horne Smelter in Quebec.
“Lately, the mining industry has been our biggest customer in that (300-km) radius,” said Léveillé, who credits the company’s expertise, versatility and quality for its success in attracting miningrelated jobs.
“Because we’re well diversified, we can jump from one project to another,” he said. “We are very well- equipped for plate work.
A lot of the projects we do require a certain level of quality – extra quality. Some of the reservoirs we build, once they’ve been welded, have to be X-rayed to ensure the quality of the welds. We have that expertise that we’ve developed over the years. We’ve trained quite a few welders to be able to weld at that level.”
In Earlton, Nor-Arc employs engineers, designers, welders, millwrights, machinists, painters, detailers and project managers. It has about 130 employees, 28,000 square feet of fabrication space, an 8,000 square-foot machine shop and an 8,000 square-foot paint shop.
Nor-Arc’s fabrication capability includes three 110-ft. long bays with overhead crane capacity of 30 tons. It has a 10 x 40-ft. plasma cutting table, offers profile plasma cutting, plate rolling and forming, structural section rolling, as well as pressing, punching, bevelling, shearing and more.
A complete range of machine shop services is available, as well as an array of welding processes, including stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum and advanced technologies.
At its Quebec division, Normex Métal in La Sarre, the company employs 25 people at an 8,000 square- oot facility.
Its Quebec division gives Nor-Arc more fabrication capacity to meet construction deadlines. “One of the key components (of the business) is always delivery. The clients can be very demanding,” Léveillé said. “So, sometimes, we combine both locations on the same project to make sure we meet our clients’ deadlines.”
Getting qualified workers and competing with the mining industry for skilled talent is one of Nor-Arc’s major challenges. While that’s not problematic when business is normal, it can be when demand spikes. “When we see an increase in our production and we need more qualified workers, a lot of the time we have to train them ourselves, or we have to hire them from southern Ontario and try to recruit them to come north.”
Recently, the company has been finishing work on the $75-million revitalization of the Index Energy steam plant in Ajax, 45 kilometres east of Toronto, where Index plans to use biomass to generate steam and electricity.
“Our contract is to supply most of the equipment for that project,” said Léveillé. “We’re supplying the fuel handling equipment, the ducting and the ash handling system, too.” The Ajax co- generation project is an example of a diversified client base that includes Canadian and American forest product companies, as well as electrical power generators.
Repeat clients are critical to its success.
“The quality we do today will ensure we get the job tomorrow,” Léveillé said.
Tagged Ajax, AuRico Gold, AuRico Gold’s Matachewan mine, Glencore, Glencore Recycling’s Horne Smelter, machine shop services, Mario Léveillé, Nor-Arc, Pascal Léveillé, production manager, square-foot paint shop, Storage tank, Voisey's Bay Mine, www.norarc.com, Xstrata, Yves Léveillé