A $1-million investment by the Renfrew Industrial Commission and the Town of Renfrew is bringing big business to town.
Raytheon Canada, which provides support services for high-technology systems, has opened satellite operations in Renfrew, from where it will service the Chinook helicopter squadron coming to Canadian Forces Base Petawawa next year.
The official ribbon-cutting for the Raytheon facility at Renfrew’s Innovation Centre on O’Brien Road was held Tuesday, as representatives gathered from Raytheon Canada, Boeing, the Town of Renfrew and the Renfrew Industrial Commission.
A seven-year lease agreement is in place for Raytheon to operate out of the facility that includes 30,000 square feet of storage space for helicopter parts.
Renfrew wasn’t the only site considered for the job, but it won out after the Renfrew Industrial Commission committed around $1 million to upgrade and customize the multi-business storage building. This met military and security standards, and brought the former Westinghouse home up to building code.
Renfrew Industrial Commission executive director Dave Lemkay indicated the lease includes the option for three five-year leases. An estimated two dozen jobs will be created at the Renfrew office.
“I think it’s good to see a major national and international company do business in our community,” said Renfrew Mayor Bill Ringrose. “In my mind, that’s going to be 20 years plus. This will definitely pay dividends for the Town of Renfrew.”
“To all our vendors and suppliers, I understand parts are on the way, so it will be very exciting to see a warehouse full of equipment,” said Terry Manion, general manager of Raytheon Canada’s support services division.
Manion also noted that the company’s estimated 1,500 employees are located in Alberta, Ontario (including the corporate headquarters in Ottawa) and Nova Scotia.
Its support services division opened in Calgary in 1992 to support the CF18 radar program.
Since then the division has expanded to provide in-service support for high-technology systems. Many of these air, land or sea systems are related to defence, homeland security and other government markets.
“We are known as the in-service support centre of excellence,” added Manion. “Among the many and varied tasks we perform daily, in support of our customer, we take extreme pride in getting supplies where they need to be when they need to be there. Whether it’s supporting a battlefield mission or a training mission, our focus remains on continuing to support our customer.”
Manion said the Renfrew warehouse “is key in the supply chain for the CH47 helicopter. We are particularly proud to be part of the Boeing team, and to provide a supply chain of activities on their behalf and ultimately for the men and women of the Canadian Forces.”
Manion said the company “looks forward to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship in the years to come” with the Town of Renfrew.
He also applauded the choice of Renfrew, saying it was close to Petawawa and Ottawa.
“It’s right in between. And we have a great facility and close highway access,” said Manion. “It’s a good compromise of all the various parameters we had to balance off.”
Raymond Haddad, Boeing’s director of Chinook rotorcraft support, called the opening of the Renfrew facility an important milestone and a key element of the in-service support program for the Chinooks.
Haddad said it was fitting, two days after Remembrance Day, to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women in the Canadian Forces.
Lemkay, of the Renfrew Industrial Commission, said it has been a challenging year, as crew from Renfrew-based Marshall’s did some double shifts, seven days a week, to get the facility ready by the middle of June. Yemen Electric did extensive electrical upgrades for the project.
“We’re standing in a room that was a locker room, and it looks like a million dollars today. And, in fact, that’s probably the kind of numbers we can speak to in terms of what (fixing up this building) has entailed. But I think it’s a wise investment and rich investment, by the Renfrew Industrial Commission and the town, to welcome Raytheon here for the long haul.”
Lemkay reminded a gathering of a few dozen people that Renfrew has a history of military connections, like the packing of 60-pound shells in Renfrew for use in the First World War.
He also said the new Raytheon facility is “a real tonic for the town. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. It’s a new positive change that we’ve been able to work hard to bring about.”
Several industrial commission members, including chairman Mack Wilson, vice-chair Neil Ritchie and treasurer Barry Breen, also attended the opening.