Armo Tool has plans to add 14 jobs over the next three years as part of a $3.4 million expansion.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, the minister of economic development, trade and employment, was at the advanced manufacturing plant in Middlesex Centre to announce a $338,250 grant toward the cost of the project on Thursday (May 23).
The money comes from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, which is accepting applications from businesses that are “growing and creating jobs.”
Hoskins started his address by thanking the dozens of Armo Tool’s 125 employees gathered in the newest arm of the plant for the announcement.
“It’s your hard work every day that has built this company into the successful advanced manufacturing facility that it is,” he said. “You are truly a model not only to the region but to the province and the world.”
He said he is proud to support innovators like Armo that “create jobs while capitalizing on emerging opportunities in the global economy” and called the expansion an example of “in-sourcing.”
According to CEO Ben Whitney, the expansion will add to the shop two faster and more accurate CNC machines and a material feed line for an 800-ton stamping press installed last year.
In fact the entire wing of the shop the announcement was held in was added in the past 12 months.
“Our customers have been asking for this,” Whitney said, expecting the new equipment to attract new customers. “I’m very excited to commit to the goal of 14 more jobs over the next three years.”
He said investing in innovation and productivity is the key to retaining and creating jobs and thanked the minister for recognizing that advanced manufacturing is a part of the knowledge economy of the future, not a “quaint part of the province’s past.”
Armo has trained more than 60 trades apprentices since Ross Whitney, Ben’s grandfather bought the property it sits on in 1969.
His father George started working there a year later.
The plant has grown from the 1,000 square-foot building the former flower shop occupied to a 40,000 sq. ft. operation exporting manufacturing tools and equipment to four continents.
“It’s pretty satisfying to see it not just surviving but growing and doing well,” George said. “I think there was a good foundation for the business before and once we got through the difficult times with the auto industry, Ben was able to build on that foundation and take it to another level.”