IPL: An appetite for growth
Reading bits of news about the steady growth of IPL Inc. doesn't prepare a visitor for the sudden sight of its massive grey complex that dominates the small town of St-Damien-de-Buckland, Que.Driving ...
Reading bits of news about the steady growth of IPL Inc. doesn’t prepare a visitor for the sudden sight of its massive grey complex that dominates the small town of St-Damien-de-Buckland, Que.
Driving south from Quebec City for almost an hour, you are in a landscape of farmland and rolling hills, until you top the final hill and see the village of St-Damien in a valley. There are other industrial buildings in town, but the sheer sprawl of IPL’s interconnected buildings is breathtaking.
The facility now covers 460,000 sq. ft.
IPL also has plants in New Brunswick and Ontario, and regional offices and warehouses across North America.
The molder is concentrated on three core businesses: packaging (outgrowing its current space — see below), materials handling products and custom molding. The emphasis on custom molding has been in the automotive sector, where growth has been constant. IPL acquired an automotive molder in Windsor, Ont. last year, and announced $24 million of new contracts with Tier 1 suppliers to Ford in January.
“We’re selling ourselves as a solution provider. We are very strong in large-tonnage applications, and strong in R&D and engineering,” says Jean-Yves Bacle, vice-president, custom molding and material handling.
WINDSOR: SAME PRINCIPLES, SMALLER SCALE
Recognizing that it needed a presence in Windsor or Detroit to secure its place in the second tier of the automotive market, IPL purchased Prelude Plastics Products last December.
Bacle expects to spend another $4.5 to five million to expand the Prelude plant, which now operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary, IPL Prelude Corp. “There were only six machines there when we bought the plant, by next summer there will be 11 or 12.” One 1100-ton press and one 700-ton machine were moved to Windsor from St-Damien. A 500-ton machine will also make the trip down highway 401. A 1500-ton machine will be bought for the plant within the next year.
Bacle recognizes that the labor market in Windsor is much tighter than that in southern Quebec, but is confident IPL’s people skills will win out. “Success and good management attract good people,” says Bacle. “IPL is a people-oriented company. We have ways to encourage loyalty, by providing all the tools, support and training that we can. I hope to repeat the same recipe in Windsor.”
The next step for the Windsor plant is to achieve QS-9000 registration, then the emphasis will be on developing engineering support, and project and program management at the site.
The target for IPL’s automotive business is $50 to $55 million in annual sales within 3 years.
PACKAGING OPS NEED MORE SPACE
An IPL subsidiary in Edmunston, N.B. has purchased a $4-million building that it will retrofit for manufacturing plastic packaging products. The 90,000 sq. ft. facility is on 10 acres of land.
The subsidiary, IPL Plastics Ltd., will invest $1.5 million for moving and retrofitting, as well as about $2 million for new machinery. IPL president and CEO, Julien Metivier, says the new building will increase capacity and product diversity. “We plan to launch new lines of added-value products, such as square containers of less than 2.5 litres developed for retail, which reached a growth rate of over 50 percent in sales in the last two years.” CPL