York Machine epitomizes diversity in Campbellton


Last week's column about the amazing and maybe even unique diversity of interests in the Campbellton area of town only scratched the surface, and a few items deserve a follow-up.

First, Daigle Welding & Marine IS a resident of Campbellton because its big main shop across the river is not its only property in the area: it also owns and operates a substantial storage facility inside the Campbellton borders over towards Petersen Road.

Second, York Machine Shop no longer employs 35 people - that total is now up to 45 and it's about to grow even more - maybe double? - when owner-operator Dennis Cambrey next year opens a huge new facility being built on Vigar Road in North Campbell River only a few minutes away their main plant on 17th Avenue in Campbellton.

In fact York Machine Shop is an amazing business success story regardless of where it's located and this week - if things go as planned - readers should be able to watch Mr. Cambrey talk about all of that on my Talk About TV show on Shaw TV North Island (Channel 4 on Shaw, at various times), which show (again if things go as planned) will also include some photos of the existing plant and the new plant under construction as well as maybe of Cambrey with the prototype for a new portable welding machine and a map of the world with pins showing where all of the sales of its unique boring machines have been made.

Those boring machines are mainly derivatives of its original portable boring machines that revolutionized the industrial machine maintenance industry on Vancouver Island by enabling a worker to take them in a float plane to a remote location rather that hauling and barging a big piece of heavy machinery to a shop and back.

When I noted to Mr. Cambrey how amazing it was to see pins stretching all the way down the Americas' west coast to the bottom of Chile he quickly quipped that they've made sales to Antarctica too!

But even that could be merely a small beginning because when York's new prototype portable welding machine was displayed at a recent trade show in Chicago it resulted in Cambrey's desk being deluged with pink message slips from customers calling to inquire about buying the new machines, with some of the orders coming in bunches.

The business was founded in Campbellton in 1983 by Peter York, who had a few employees doing machining in a small shop at 1971 Island Highway, a facility still in cramped use today; the business was bought by Cambrey - then a machinist for a rival company in town - in about 1992, soon moving to its large but now-cramped "shop" at 1641 17th Ave., and it has been growing ever since, and winning export awards and more and more customers and an enviable reputation among cognoscenti.

A notable turning point was when giant Boeing Corp. came calling asking for help from York, and the rest as they say is history. Along the way York found it had to incorporate a separate American subsidiary for various business reasons related to the ramifications of doing lots of business through sales agents in dozens of American states.

Who knew?? I didn't until recently and I've been hanging around here as a business journalist for more than a few years now. And the existing shops in Campbellton will be retained too.

So congratulations Dennis Cambrey for building a veritable global corporate manufacturing giant that's headquartered in little old humble Campbellton! (Okay maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but it IS going in that direction.)

And third about diversity in Campbellton, my summary gave a bit of short shrift to the many automobile-related businesses in the area, not just tire companies but also chrome, truck caps, radiators and more. Maybe another day.

Also many types of equipment rental companies, a major pawn shop, and food, food and more food. Keep reading! Suggestions welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Maybe next year I'll get a dot-campbellton address.)

 

Doc film on garden is template for more

And speaking of food, if things went as planned the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association on Tuesday for the first time showed its new 27-minute documentary film on the Campbellton Community Garden, aka The Gumboot Garden, at the Beijing House Restaurant in Campbellton. The doc was made by local film-maker Mark Job, with me (John Twigg) serving as co-director and Ann Hazlett as producer with many others helping and financially sponsoring - thank you everyone!

Why all the fuss? Well because our humble little volunteer-driven garden is on the leading cutting edge of social changes that are coming to the world whether we like it or not.

Events such as the terrorist massacre in Paris and the climate-change conference (also in Paris - what does that say?) are pointing towards an increasingly destabilized world in which commercial, political and environmental shifts will force more and more people to depend on their own local resources in order to eat and live.

That's not alarmism, it is reality, and the City of Campbell River is amazingly wise (IMO) to have a Sustainable Official Community Plan (soon to be reviewed and updated BTW) that mandates a drive to improve the city's food self-sufficiency from about 3% now to higher double digits within about 15 years - with support from the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce and many other progressive community groups.  And the gumboot garden is a template for how to do the sorts of urban agriculture we may all soon need a lot more of, as is the City's new enabling of back-yard hens.

The fact they're organic too is only a bonus, such as hens turning table scraps into food eggs and reducing the city's waste-management costs.

The next step could be to enable all of the area's community gardens (about five now?) to begin roadside sales. Why not? It's also job creation.

Watch for more showings of the video soon, possibly before or during the neighbourhood association's coming annual general meeting on Jan. 13.

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