TOUR OF INDUSTRY SERIES: Local industry expertise a gold mine

Greg Ramsay of Ramsay Machine Works says local companies are more than competitive

Large pipes and other metal works are taking shape within the Ramsay Machine Works facility in Sidney.

From the very visible coal conveyor project in 2012 and earlier this year, to its more secretive contracts within its Sidney workshop, Ramsay Machine Works Ltd. has been at the fore of creating local jobs in metal fabrication for decades.

With some parts of their Sidney industrial park facility deemed off-limits to cameras and visitors,  a group with the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s annual Tour of Industry visited the site after a lunchtime keynote address at the Mary Winspear Centre by owner Greg Ramsay.

With contracts on the go for international and provincial oil and gas companies, the tour was told certain works were being kept secret as they involve certain proprietary designs. It seems industrial espionage — or at least measures against it — is an ongoing concern on the Saanich Peninsula.

Ramsay Machine Works received a lot of attention recently, as it built a giant coal conveyor for Neptune Terminals in Vancouver. The machine used a large chunk of land near the Victoria airport — even using its runway late at night to go from one end to the other to be loaded on barges at Pat Bay.

Without that kind of local cooperation, Ramsay told the tour, projects like that might not happen.

The company bid on that project back in 2011 and fought hard to keep the jobs in B.C.

“This province has the resources and the skills to be able to do theses kinds of jobs,” he said.. “We need that foundation to build the economy.”

By deciding to keep the work in B.C. with Ramsay, said its CEO, Neptune acknowledged a bigger picture — including the benefits of job quality, workmanship and the proximity of the builders for servicing reasons.

“Our price was double what it would have been from China, but if you look at the cost over (the 35-year lifespan of the coal conveyor), it was a slam dunk.”

After a slide show outlining the construction project, the tour traveled to the Ramsay facility. The 40-foot wide doors were swung open, revealing a 275-foot long bay and 13 overhead cranes — not to mention large pipes with welders and metal workers setting a busy pace.

Ramsay said the company is bidding on another three coal loaders and is confident of their chances considering the ground-up project they recently completed for Neptune.

“There’s a whole resource here,” he said of the expertise and skill of B.C. and Canadian workers. “It just blows me away. It’s a gold mine.”

This capacity of local industry to take on and complete large projects, Ramsay said, is an important message to take to provincial MLAs and community leaders to help ensure business remains in B.C.