Dajcor Aluminum Ltd. has received some government funding to enhance a $10.2 million upgrade to the Chatham plant that will help create 35 new jobs and retain 140 positions.
The company is receiving just over $1 million from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund that is going towards investing in new state-of-the-art fabrication equipment to increase capacity and efficiency and enable Dajcor to expand into new markets with more technically demanding components.
Dajcor president Mike Kilby told The Chatham Daily News on Saturday a new extrusion press that has just arrived from Italy is being installed at the Irwin Street plant. He noted the company is also automating its anodizing line and will be building a co-generation plant, which is expected to be complete sometime next year.
Dajcor Aluminum was launched in 2010 after Kilby and business partners Max Fantuz and Bill Loucks purchased the former Daymond Aluminum plant, which had gone into receivership.
Kilby said there was a desire to improve the efficiency of the equipment in the factory.
“We were nearing capacity and we needed to do two things – improve our technology and increase our through-put,” he said.
The new extrusion press line and automating the anodizing line will achieve these goals, he added.
“Further along the efficiency line of things is putting in the co-generation unit to lower our overall energy bill,” Kilby said, adding this will provide an annual savings of about $500,000.
He said the co-generation unit will burn natural gas in a large engine to generate electricity. The steam produced from the exhaust heat will be used in the anodizing process, he added. As well, the water used to cool the co-generation unit can be used to supplement the heat in the plant during the winter months, he said.
Kilby said the company found out about the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and the fact manufacturing facilities were eligible to apply for funding.
“So, we applied through a fairly rigorous process and we were successful.”
Noting the need to increase efficiency when the company only has “finite dollars at our disposal,” Kilby said the extra $1 million “helped us go the extra bit and do the next project, which was the anodizing line automation.”
Dajcor designs and manufacturers extruded and fabricated aluminum components used in numerous applications including automotive, marine, construction, bathroom fixtures and sliding door runners. The upgrades to the facility will enable the company build components for light rail transit door assemblies, ventilations systems, LED light enclosures and high-end furniture tracks.
Kilby said the company has had a lot of success in capturing new business in the U.S.
In speaking with The Daily News earlier this year after it was announced Dajcor was named Industry of the Year for 2015 by the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce, Kilby said since 2011, the company has seen 35 per cent compound growth.
A major factor in this growth is due to extensive online marketing, he said.
Looking at the future potential growth, with respect to adding 35 new jobs, Kilby said, “I think those employment numbers are conservative.
“We'll wait and see . . . what it will ultimately do,” he added.