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Glass plant breaking expectations

Post Time:Mar 06,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:464


Federal government gives AGNORA $3.7 million for R&D, expansion


A west end manufacturing facility has spent the last six months smashing through the glass ceiling.


Well, maybe that's not the best analogy for the maker of architectural glass. But there's no question the employees at AGNORA — otherwise known as Architectural Glass North America — spend their days solving how to do the impossible for its clients.


"Every day we have projects like that, and we have to figure out how to make it," said Richard Wilson, who along with Caledon's Gord Tozer, resuscitated what was Barber Glass last spring, after the former company fell into court-order receivership.


On Friday, the federal government also put its faith into the company, giving the 25-employee plant $3.71 million in funding through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The money will help the company expand its production volume and architectural glass offerings , increase product quality, and enhance the energy conservation properties of the products.


AGNORA will also use the money to construct a research and development lab.


"Our government realizes how small business contributes overwhelming to building the Canadian economy," said Simcoe-Grey Member of Parliament Kellie Leitch, as she made the announcement beside two massive pieces of glass — one of which is the largest size produced by the plant at nearly 11 feet wide.


"AGNORA is doing cutting-edge work, and competing in a $36-billion industry in North America (for architectural glass), they are well-positioned to service this particular niche," she said.


The plant, while at full production, is only at about 50% of its capacity, said manager Jeff Wilkins. As the company grows, plant officials anticipate the workforce could swell to around 150 in the next two or three years.


"We have great faith in it, and with the response from our customers... this has far exceeded (the business plan)," said Wilson. "We are breaking our goals.


"Once (customers) knew that we were here, we had a captive audience."


The opportunity, said Wilson, is hardly anyone else in the world produces this type of glass. Last year, the company shipped a piece of architectural glass, 130 inches by 134 inches, to a project in Dubai; the shipment took about three months, and necessitated at least one transfer of the container between ships in the middle of the ocean.


He shows local reporters another piece his company is working on: a giant tear-shaped piece that will become a skylight.


There's a company in Germany, he said, but a North American client could expect to wait 10-to-12 weeks for a piece to get here from Europe; AGNORA can get a piece anywhere in North America in one-to-three days.


"We have a huge opportunity here," said Wilson.


Source: http://www.theenterprisebulletin.comAuthor: shangyi

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