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There is lots of gloom and doom in the news around manufacturing these days. It seems that hardly a day goes by without a story about a plant closure. Yet, the reality on the ground is very different. It turns out there are lots of innovative Ontario manufacturers that are operating successfully below the radar. A team of student researchers visited a number of Ontario manufacturing ‘success’ stories. Here are the students’ profiles of the firms they visited and the people they met.

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Laval International

Located in Windsor, Ontario, Laval International (Laval) manufactures production-ready moulds and composite parts for a wide range of industries. In addition to manufacturing, Laval offers engineering and prototyping services to customers seeking turnkey solutions. To capitalize on recent manufacturing trends and remains at the forefront of the industry, Laval engages in multiple research and development (R&D) projects annually. Laval’s international presence can be attributed to its commitment to providing customers with the most technologically advanced and effective products.

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Alpine Graphic Productions Ltd.

Achieving success in Ontario’s manufacturing industry requires not only quality products and efficient manufacturing processes, but exceptional project management as well. Alpine Graphic Productions Ltd. (Alpine) is a perfect example of a company that clearly understands these requirements. As a leader in the custom signage and graphics industry, Alpine takes pride in maintaining its reputation for competitive prices, superior product performance, and on-time delivery.

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e.Hofmann Plastics Inc.

Innovation and automation. Paul Kalia, chief executive officer at e.Hofmann Plastics Inc. (Hofmann Plastics), notes that these two ideals are the keys to running any successful manufacturing business, and the aims that drive his company’s strategy. The company is in what Kalia refers to as the “rigid packaging business”. It manufactures plastic buckets for industrial markets (such as the orange buckets seen at Home Depot) and plastic packaging for the food and beverage industry. However, Kalia does not see Hofmann Plastics as a plastics company; instead, he views it as a technology company that is constantly innovating and looking for new ways to solve problems.

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The Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI)

The Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) is a network that partners with post-secondary research institutions and offers state of the art equipment, facilities and expertise to small and medium-sized firms. SONAMI focuses on these smaller firms in the manufacturing sector because they often have limited cash flow, and may not have the capacity to invest in research and development that will lead to more innovative products or processes. One of SONAMI’s goals is to connect these firms with a post-secondary institution that can successfully complete the firms’ projects.

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Kropf Industrial Inc.

The town of Parry Sound, Ontario and the surrounding Muskoka region is one of the most famous boating areas in Canada, if not the world. Therefore, it seems fitting that it is also home to a leading marine hydraulic equipment and dock systems manufacturer, Kropf Industrial Inc. Kropf Industrial is a family-owned and -operated company that is run out of two facilities just south of Parry Sound, comprising a total of 40,000 square feet.

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J&S Manufacturing

J&S Manufacturing (J&S) is a successful mining equipment manufacturer located in Spanish, Ontario. The company’s motto is “Built to Perform,” conveying the fact that all of its equipment is durable and dependable. J&S’s in-house design capabilities allow the company to manufacture mobile equipment as well as technical custom equipment, transforming customers’ ideas into usable solutions. The quality of the equipment manufactured, along with the company’s ability to customize products, has helped J&S to sell its equipment around the world.

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