16 people back at work at Sackville transformer factory

With plant under new ownership, 16 employees are back at work at Sackville transformer business that shut down in 2016, resulting in 60 layoffs.

1st shipment of pole-top transformers being readied for shipment to Jamaica

William Richardson said he's worked in the building for 42 years. The plant opened in 1961 under General Electric and operated under Moloney Electric until the company filed for bankruptcy in May 2017. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

After two years of uncertainty, 16 employees are back at their stations, repairing and manufacturing pole-top transformers under the new banner Cam Tran Co.

Kyle Campbell, president, purchased the building and equipment after Moloney Electric closed up shop in February of 2016, laying off 60 employees.

At the time, Moloney Electric promised workers they'd be back at work within weeks but instead filed for bankruptcy in May 2017.

Makes transformers to utilities

Employees lost part of their vacation pay, in some cases thousands of dollars, but the people back at work said this is behind them now.

Each person in the building worked for Moloney Electric, which made pole-top transformers for NB Power and other utilities in the province.

William Richardson got the call in March that'd he'd be in the first batch of people to return to work under the new owners.

"It was a long haul being off work but eventually I knew that with my experience, I would get called back, if Cam Tran opened the building up."

Jason Leaman, a high-voltage winder at Cam Tran Co., was happy to be called back to work. 'It was a pretty hard two years waiting and working here working there, it was a little difficult, but I made it.' (Tori Weldon/CBC )

Richardson said he's been building transformers in the same location for 42 years.

Knowing that with his $900,000 investment in the Sackville plant, he'd get a skilled workforce was an important  incentive, according to Campbell.

"Although it's not considered a skilled trade, it's an acquired trade for sure, so having these people was a key."

Another incentive was $115,000 offered by Opportunities New Brunswick. Campbell said some of the money is tied to payroll rebates and is contingent on how many people are hired. Two more people are expected to be hired soon.

Had to revive building

When Moloney closed its doors, the building went without power throughout the winter and emerged in terrible shape, Campbell said.

"The offices were falling apart because water was coming through the ceiling."

With the help of former Moloney employees, Campbell repaired the offices and bathrooms, redid the sprinkler system, "and then we started painting."

Campbell said the Sackville facility is a good fit for his company, which is based in Ontario, with satellite plants in Chilliwack, B.C. and Spruce Grove, Alta.

"This sort of completes the package across Canada," he said. "We've got all regions covered, so it fit well."

Kyle Campbell is the president of Cam Tran, the Sackville operation is the Ontario-based company's third satellite plant. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The pole-top transformers currently being built in Sackville will be shipped to Jamaica Power, but Campbell said he's hoping to find customers closer to home as soon as possible.

"The unfortunate part of our timing is that most of the local Atlantic power companies are in the midst of contracts."

He said he has the expiration dates of those contracts listed on his wall.

In the meantime, the Sackville plant will help fill orders from other company offices, and if any natural disasters hit the region, Cam Tran Co. will have the ability to ship new transformers to any power company in need.

Long time to be jobless

Richardson, who lived on empty promises while his former employer went bankrupt, said he went without work for two years before being called back.

"Everybody, including my wife is happy, because it was a long stint off."

He and the other employees hope more of their former colleagues will be back on the floor soon.

"It's great, it's a great atmosphere, it's moving forward, you know, everybody in here has a positive attitude," Richardson said.


 

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.