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THE DRIFT 2020: Thirty years of experience guide North Bay machine shop

Resolution Machining provides clients one stop for all fabrication needs
Mate Ducovac, general manager at Resolution Machining, said adding capacity to its fabrication division means the shop can offer its clients a broader range of services. (Lindsay Kelly photo)

Resolution Machining hasn’t endured 29 years in business without addressing some challenges. But each time they were faced with a critical decision, owners Louise Reilly and Roy Moore buckled down to come up with the answer that would help their business continue to grow.

“We’re pretty cautious,” said Reilly, who purchased the North Bay business with her husband in 1991. “But when you see that it’s right, you have to go for it.”

Case in point: just last year, the machining and fabrication shop had reached a kind of crossroads. Sales had stagnated, and Reilly and Moore recognized that, if they wanted to see their small shop succeed into its third decade, they would have to make some big changes.

The owners brought on general manager Mate Dukovac in 2018 to guide them through a major expansion, and they committed a significant financial investment to bolster the fabrication shop, adding a Ferric CNC brake press and a state-of-the-art Messer high-definition plasma table to their equipment.

Dominique Wilkinson then joined the team as manager of the newly expanded fabrication division.

Adding that capacity to the 24,000-square-foot facility means the shop can now offer clients a broader range of services, all from one place.

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to provide is a full-service shop,” Dukovac said. “We want our customers to come to us and be able to give us any variation of a product, whether it’s strictly machining or strictly fabrication and painting, or combine all of them.”

Resolution can complete in-house custom design, machining, and fabrication, and the shop also works with multiple partners to provide value-added services like heat-treating and powder-coating.

Helping to schedule jobs for maximum efficiency is the shop’s new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which manages orders throughout the shop, monitors inventory, and keeps track of costs.

The biggest advantage, Reilly said, is that clients can be sure they receive a high-calibre product in the time they need it.

“We’re coming in at maybe a higher price point than some, but we’re definitely going to have the quality and make your delivery that you need,” she said.

Reilly estimates 35 to 40 per cent of their work comes from the pulp and paper industry – Tembec is a long-standing client – but she views mining as a primary area of growth. Being located just over an hour’s drive east from the world’s largest mining hub has led to some burgeoning partnerships in the sector.

Though Resolution Machining is on the cusp of its 30th year in business, the family has actually been servicing the North for more than three decades.

John Hurtubise started the business in his garage as John’s Machine Service, and Roy Moore joined him in 1989, after graduating from George Brown College as a mechanical engineering technician with a specialty in toolmaking.

“The intention was always that John wanted Roy to take it over, so he could move on,” Reilly said. 

Two years later, when Hurtubise did decide to sell, the young couple “just jumped in,” said Reilly, who took on finance and administration duties.

Supported by a team of dedicated employees, they made it a priority to fine-tune their services and focused on building strong customer relationships.

The business flourished and, in 2008, the couple realized they needed more space. They relocated to their current location in the city’s east end and renamed the company Resolution Machining.

Despite the many changes over the years, the family-owned enterprise retains a closely knit atmosphere amongst its 10 staff members, many of whom are relatives.

Even Cuper the dog maintains a steady presence in the office, greeting visitors with a friendly tail wag and welcome bark.

As it continues to develop, the company anticipates adding four new full-time jobs by 2022.

Sarah Moore, Resolution’s communications manager, said an internship position is currently in the works, which she hopes will attract recent graduates of postsecondary fabrication and machining programs.

“That would allow us to get them trained and hopefully end up hiring them on full time,” Moore said. “It would be a great way to get some of the younger people coming right out of school and transition them into the job.”

The goal, she said, is to provide steady, long-term jobs. 

“We want to be able to rely on our employees, and we want them to be able to also rely on us. That’s pretty important.”

The Drift magazine features profiles on the people and companies making important contributions to the Northern Ontario mining service and supply sector. It is published annually and distributed at the Northern Ontario Mining Showcase during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto.