Fabspec stands as one of North America’s most progressive and dynamic fabricators of specialized equipment for heavy industry. Based in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, Canada, the company recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of efficiently and effectively serving both local and international markets.
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Claude Riel, Director of Business Development for the company, discusses his company’s dynamic identity and the strong reputation that has stemmed from a dedication to quality and manufacturing excellence. Steve Engelhardt reports.
Since its inception in 1974, the corporate philosophy at Fabspec has been focused on two things—producing and delivering a high quality product on time, and maintaining an honest approach in each and every partnership they enter into. Over the years it’s a mindset that hasn’t wavered, but only grown stronger. And with global markets today experiencing much higher levels of competition, and the subsequent cost-cutting measures taken by companies attempting to stretch the dollar, Fabspec serves as a unique example of a company that still dedicates itself to what some may call the ‘old-school’ ideologies of ethics, while excelling as a vertically-integrated modern manufacturer in today’s world.
Location, Location, Location
While the company thrives in custom fabrication for a multitude of industries, it’s hard to overlook the physical location of its production facilities when determining the most impressive aspect of Fabspec Inc. Situated along the Saint Lawrence River, the company has over 200,000-square-feet of factory floor and can effectively reach all of its major regional markets in an extremely efficient manner. “40 years ago, our founders purchased these facilities in the marine district of Quebec where they were building ships at the time, and because of this the company benefitted greatly from the existing logistical advantages it provided for us,” says Riel.
He is talking about the fact that not only was the company positioned right along the waterways, but that they inherited a small line of rail as well due to the prevalence of product transportation via train to the docks at the time. “We have rail coming in and out of our facilities, providing us with a unique option of how we move our products, but I’d say even more crucial to our success is the fact that we are the only set of facilities in Quebec that has a wharfing facility right next to us which can take our products out to the St. Lawrence Seaway,” he says. Adding, “From there, we can easily access the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes, both of which are key channels to our end markets and customers.”
In terms of their actual facilities, Fabspec out of four separate plants all within a close distance to one another. “At plants 1, 2, and 3, you have weldment fabrication going on, with two of which containing railroad access and lifting capacities up to 100 tons,” he says, adding, “In our fourth factory, it’s primarily sandblasting and painting, with Fabspec being one of the few companies in Quebec approved and certified by the SSPC to strip contaminated lead paint.”
Welding Craft and Clarity
With its main line of business coming from the fabrication of large-scale pressure vessels, Fabspec combines a vertically-integrated presence of manufacturing with a commitment to the lean initiatives of continuous improvement to deliver a high-quality end product that has been produced entirely “under one roof,” so to speak.
“We can bend, form, machine, weld, heat treat, and paint all within our facilities for our customers, reducing their transportation needs and simplifying the overall process for them,” he says adding, “On top of this, we have a skilled, dynamic workforce in place capable of handling many different manufacturing operations.
Riel says that given their comprehensive set of production abilities, many new doors have been opened to them in recent years, with one of the more significant opportunities coming from companies’ emerging need to refurbish, rather than purchase brand-new, pressure vessels for a variety of industries, including oil and gas, hydroelectricity, and mining. “We do a lot of refurbishing for companies within our facilities, including copper components like electron holders, pressure vessels, and turbines in the hydropower sector.” He says hydropower turbines are a particularly interesting area of growth for the company, as many of the facilities were built many decades ago, and with life expectancies of around 60 years, they will soon be requiring significant refurbishing in order to continue operating.
Aside from its strategic location and manufacturing prowess, Fabspec builds its global reputation even more by the honest and ethical approach it takes on the business side of partnerships with its customers. Riel lauds his company’s estimating department, for their persistence in challenging nearly every other branch of the company—purchasing, engineering, fabricating, and quality—to continuously develop improved methods so that Fabspec is offering proposals that beat any others from competing regions. However, he does note that, “because of our commitment to quality, we are not going to be the cheapest on the block, but we will ensure that our pricing and role in the relationship is as transparent as possible,” he says, adding, “when doing business with us, what you see is what you get in terms of the pricing and final product. Our customers appreciate it since they can be confident in knowing exactly how everything is going to happen for their project.
Riel says that while 2013 and 2014 have been positive years for the company, 2015 presents an exciting level of growth. “We have several projects that were on the table two years ago and will be finalized in 2015, and we’re looking forward to these as a way of not just maintaining our current position, but potentially spurring us to an even higher level of success as a business.”
Either way, it’s full steam ahead for Fabspec, because as a company whose core principles are built upon quality, on-time delivery, and transparency, they have developed a formula for success that continuously guides them forward.
“We are an honest, hard-working manufacturer, and our reputation is the way it is today because of our steadfast commitment to these attributes,” he says, concluding, “Fabspec’s global identity is shaped by such efforts and because of this, I believe we will continue to build on our position for many years as a leading fabricating option for heavy industry and beyond.”