The province's minister of economic development Vic Fedeli, was joined by MPP for Barrie-Innisfil Andrea Khanjin on Friday, as they announced new provincial partnerships with local businesses as part of Ontario’s pandemic recovery.
The Minister announced $2.8 million in funding will be made available to businesses to help them expand and adjust to changing market challenges.
First stop was Tempo Plastics Ltd., located on Innisfil’s Industrial Park Road, which is in the midst of a $14.4-million upgrade and expansion to its flexible packaging business.
The province is providing a $2.2 million interest-free loan, through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, to support the expansion.
Company CEO Leonardo Giglio met with the provincial representatives and provided a tour of the plant.
Tempo has a “unique” business model, said Giglio explaining how they bring in resin pellets for transformation into polyethylene plastic films and flexible packaging, and completing all aspects of production from printing to laminating, pressing and cutting at the Innisfil facility.
“We do it all,” Giglio said. “We make our own printing plates.”
Tempo is the “preferred packer” for companies that include Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro, and also serves the local market, including farms and packing plants in the Holland Marsh – producing between 750,000 and 3 million bags or packages per day, depending on demand.
The investment includes a new transformer to provide the upgraded electricity supply that will be needed for new equipment, including a 10-colour Novoflex printing press recently brought in from Germany, costing in excess of $5 million.
It replaces a 2012 eight-colour press capable of producing 1,200 pieces per minute; the Novoflex press will be able to produce up to 2,000 pieces per minute.
The upgrade will allow the company to expand beyond the Ontario and Canadian markets, into U.S. and international markets, Giglio noted, resulting in “way, way more shifts, way more people.”
Tempo has been in business for 51 years and currently employs approximately 160 people – a number that has gone up by at least 15 since the pandemic began and that will continue to grow, Giglio said.
“We’re open to hire. As new equipment is coming in, we are hiring new people,” he said, as he led the tour past four shelves filled with photos of each employee. “This wall has been growing… We’re a family here. We’re people.”
Even during the height of the pandemic, Tempo remained in production, with plastic packaging playing an increasingly important role in food security and health. Now in the midst of a two-week shut-down for maintenance, it is the first time the plant has been idle since COVID hit, he said, adding it is the perfect time to upgrade and expand, with the help of the province.
“We’ve never gone this route – partnering with the government,” Giglio said. “It’s very exciting for us.”
“We’ve really seen something exciting here,” said Fedeli, noting that companies like Tempo, which are expanding and investing despite the pandemic, are “a really important part of the recovery here in the province of Ontario.”
Fedeli noted, “Premier Ford calls it the ‘spirit of Ontario’ when we see so many products that we were not making in Ontario,” now coming into production locally. “We’re really pleased that you have continued to make an investment.”
He noted that the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund contribution is not the only way in which the province has supported industry.
An accelerated cost recovery allowance, reduction in Employment Insurance premiums and, as of Jan. 1, a reduction in industrial and commercial energy rates by 14 and 16 percent, and reduction in the provincial share of property taxes all add up to “about a $7 billion annual savings for businesses,” the minister said.
“The fundamentals are all still in place in Ontario,” he noted. “That’s why the manufacturing sector continued to hire all during the pandemic… We’re very grateful, and we’re thrilled to be partners with you.”
Khanjin noted that Tempo is not only hiring and expanding, but also working on a more sustainable product, and in 2015 won a PAC Canadian Award for sustainable packaging.
“You employ so many people here to help us recover from the pandemic,” Khanjin said. “What you’re doing here is not touching just lives in Barrie and Innisfil… but also Bradford, across the province, and Canada.”
She added, “Your company is looking to the future. People can work here with pride.”
“On behalf of Team Tempo, we’re really excited about this partnership as well,” said Giglio, noting that through new equipment, technology and research and development, the company’s goal is “by 2025, to have a sustainable alternative” to problem plastics.
“It’s a bold target… but I think working together we can get there. We are setting the stage for scaling up and taking this to the next level," he said.
“We have some great leaders. The culture here is that – that everybody works together,” noted VP of Operations Rob Mauro, making it possible.
In addition to the funding for Tempo Plastics, Fedeli also announced $266,000 in funding for Matsu Manufacturing in Barrie, to support a $2.66 million investment in equipment upgrades and a new assembly line; and a $375,000 investment in Volatus Flight Systems Inc., as part of a $2.5 million Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Centre of Excellence to be established at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport.
The total $2.8 million investment will not only support the retention of 280 jobs in the Barrie area, but lead to the creation of 72 new jobs.
“These projects will make a significant impact in their local communities and economies. They will enable long-term measurable outcomes, including private sector investments, job creation, job retention and strong regional growth,” Fedeli said.