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New heavy equipment facility 'crucial' to company's growth

SMS Equipment hopes to open the state-of-the-art, $30-million building late next year

Late next year, Timmins will be home to a new state-of-the-art, $30-million facility servicing the community. 

SMS Equipment has broken ground for its new building on Highway 101 West. The aim is to have it open in the fourth quarter of 2023.

SMS sells and services equipment and parts for heavy equipment used in the mining, construction and welding industries, and the new facility aims to bring all its services together under one roof. 

"By doing this we’re going to be able to increase our productive capacity, full-service support and cross-industry service, which will allow us to provide an even greater level of service to our customers and the people in the community,” said Robin Heard, SMS Equipment's president and CEO. 

The 37,000-square-foot building will have five service bays, two heavy-duty welding bays and a 100-ton crane capacity. It's a $30-million-plus investment to build.

With solar panels, upgraded insulation, motion sensors and leveraging the use of natural light, Heard said it will also reduce the company's carbon footprint and support moving to a low-carbon economy. 

The expansion was delayed due to the pandemic.

"We’ve been wanting to do this for some time and it’s really important to our growth," Heard said.

"We’re very excited; we’re growing our mining business heavily in the community and continuing to grow our construction business as well here. This facility is crucial so we can provide better service to our customers but it also is because we have simply outgrown the existing facility."

New jobs will also be created — from administration to trades such as welders, mechanics and electricians. The company expects the growth will mean more than 100 new jobs.

While there is a skilled worker shortage, east region vice-president Alain Bédard hopes the new facility will attract new employees. 

In Timmins, he said there are always new employees.

“It’s a region where it’s not as bad as it is in other regions. Not easy, but not as bad,” he said. 

SMS is also doing its part to attract and train workers. 

Mining vice-president Dennis Chmielewski said they've also been investing in apprenticeships.

"We’re growing our own trades force. The majority of our vacancies are on the trades side and we do know that those skills, everybody’s looking for them, so we decided that we’re going to have our own apprenticeship program,” he explained. 

In some areas, the company also has joint ventures with colleges, though there's no deal with Northern College yet. 

“That’s been a fairly new strategy for us and we’re pretty excited about it, so now we’ll be able to take that and expand it,” said Heard.

“We’re really focused on making sure we’re a good place for employees to come and have a good career with the company. We’re really focused on employees' development plans; we have a real big strategy on making sure we understand how people can develop and where they can go in their careers.

"Part of the trade school collaboration we’ve got is one element, but we’re just trying to make sure that we’re a place where people want to come and stay for their career,” he added.

— TimminsToday

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