Small company bucks recession

From   The Observer

By Tara Hogan

A local company that makes fibreglas piping is expanding, and posting some impressive job creation numbers in the process.

In four years Ershigs Inc. has grown from eight to 60 employees and recently moved into a new 55,000-square-foot facility to accommodate the growth in business.

“It’s basically because the market we’re in is a highly-engineered market that demands high-quality products,” general manager Michael O’Donnell said Thursday during a grand opening celebration of the new location on Kenny Street, in the Vidal Street Industrial Park.

Ershigs had previously been housed at a 16,000 square-foot facility on Williams Drive.

The company manufactures fibreglas piping systems, primarily for pollution-control and coal-fired power plants in the United States.

The surge in growth at the local plant is the result of rising demand for fibreglas reinforced plastics, or FRP, used in those power plants, said Steve Hettick, vice president of manufacturing.

Driving the push is new clean air legislation south of the border.

“There’s some longevity to this,” Hettick said. “We’re producing equipment to improve the environment.”

The entire product is manufactured in Sarnia, added O’Donnell. “The pipe, the fittings and then it’s assembled in the piping facility.”

Robert Bennett, president and CEO of Denali Inc., Ershigs’ parent company, was on hand for the event, and presented the plant’s 60 employees with gain share cheques, for more than $1,000 each. It was the largest bonus given to employees, following an $80-million revenue year.

“We’ve been doing this for years — giving back to our employees,” said Bennett, who traveled from Houston. “It’s kinda nice — makes you feel good.”

“It’s quite a success story in the midst of a downturn in the economy,” said Ross McEachran, who owns the Vidal Street Industrial Park (VIP), along with son Jon McEachran, who moved out of their offices and attached warehouse to allow Ershigs to move in.

“They’re very busy here, and they’ve got lots of room for growth.”

The McEachran’s started the Vidal Industrial Park in 2005, when they purchased the old Fiberglas Canada site in Chemical Valley. The 33-acre site is one of the largest brownfield rejuvenation projects in southwestern Ontario. With the Ershigs move, it’s now fully occupied.

“We’re making use of what was once abandoned,” said McEachran. “It’s a good move, and a long-term commitment.”

Observer Article ID# 2455628

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