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  • Businesses adapting to compete on a global level don't have to do it alone - NSBI has programming to help

Businesses adapting to compete on a global level don't have to do it alone - NSBI has programming to help

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

[Sponsored Content published by Saltwire.com, January 22, 2021]

[Pictured: Matthew MacKenzie, the owner and president of MacKenzie Atlantic, says his company is constantly evolving to flourish in the highly competive global defence industry. - Photo Contributed.]

The global defence industry is both highly competitive and constantly evolving. To be successful in this environment, a company must also constantly evolve, says Matthew MacKenzie, the owner and president of MacKenzie Atlantic. This requires a commitment to innovation and a willingness to embrace new technology.

“It’s becoming easier and cheaper to ship parts around the world,” says MacKenzie. “Other countries can take advantage of lower labour costs, so if we’re not embracing innovation, customers will find a lower-cost product somewhere else.”

Located in Musquodoboit Harbour, MacKenzie Atlantic is one of the major tool and die and machine shop suppliers in Atlantic Canada for the defence sector. It’s also a major supplier for Canada’s combat ship program. The company has clients in the marine, aerospace and oil and gas sectors.

With a $2.3-million investment in 2019, MacKenzie Atlantic purchased two multi-task CNC machines and linked those with two industrial robots capable of loading the machines 24-7. The equipment will help the company meet increased demand for projects in both Canada and the United States.

“We wanted to be able to provide machine components with shorter turnaround times and at a lower cost,” MacKenzie says. “Parts that would have taken six weeks to produce can now be finished in about five days.”   

Embracing new technology also allows a company to quickly pivot and adapt to changing circumstances.

The province’s business development agency, Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI), says companies from Musquodoboit Harbour, to Cape Breton, to Southwest Nova and areas between don’t have to do it alone.

NSBI is working with Nova Scotia companies that are retooling, launching new products, and adapting to e-commerce.

“It is imperative that we maintain momentum and see more companies able to join in,” says Laurel Broten, president and CEO of NSBI. “We know competitors in other markets are not holding back – and as the world continues to change due to COVID, we don’t want to see today’s challenges compounded tomorrow because we don’t adapt.”

MacKenzie Atlantic’s investment in new CNC machines and robotics was made possible with the help of a $415,000 rebate from NSBI’s Innovation Rebate Program.

Broten says firms focused on new and better products — or new and better processes — simply do better, and that we have all learned since COVID-19 that things should not go back to business as usual.

Gilles Theriault agrees: “You either innovate or you die.”

[Pictured: A.F. Theriault & Son Ltd., which has been building and repairing boats in Meteghan River since 1938 and has built more than 1,000 vessels to date. - Photo Contributed.]

Theriault is CEO of A.F. Theriault & Son Ltd., which has been building and repairing boats in Meteghan River since 1938 and has built more than 1,000 vessels of a wide range of uses and types, including fishing vessels, passenger and car ferries, fire/patrol/pilot boats and pleasure craft.

“Meeting the vision of our customers requires innovation and creativity,” says Theriault.

Two years ago, the company began a $6.5-million expansion and upgrade, with the help of a repayable contribution from ACOA and a $1.5-million rebate from the Innovation Rebate Program.

The centrepiece of the expansion is a state-of-the-art marine railway, certified for 1,500 tonnes, allowing the shipyard to accommodate larger vessels. A. F. Theriault’s first marine railway, built in the 1970s, was certified for 300 tonnes. In addition to being larger, the new railway is far more technologically advanced.

“It can be operated by one person at the push of a button,” Theriault explains. “We can also keep track, on a day-by-day basis, of what is happening during the build or repair.”

The expansion also involves the purchase of new equipment, including a new 200-tonne steel-bending machine, as well as upgrading the skills of many of the company’s 195-member workforce.

The boardroom at the company’s headquarters was converted to a classroom for training on the new system, as well as for safety training. This space has also been used by other companies in the region for training and skills development.

“NSBI rolled out numerous programs and services during 2020 and we now have an Innovation Rebate Program for small and medium-size businesses,” Broten adds. “We must try new solutions and do things differently, so that our businesses are globally competitive and our citizens are prepared for the future.”

To learn more about NSBI’s Programming, visit novascotiabusiness.com.