Laurin Containers has several welder positions to fill due to lost production weeks.
COVID-19 has not slowed down Laurin Conteneurs’ growth, on the contrary. In 2020, the Laval SME attracted close to a hundred new customers for its steel containers. This is good, but it puts pressure on the company’s already difficult labour recruitment.
In the short term, the company must fill more than a dozen new positions, mainly for welders, folders, and handlers, who are scarce in the job market.
For Laurin, which recorded an increase in sales of nearly 30% last year, growth is not the only reason for recruitment. It also needs hands to get back to the pre-VIRUS-19 production pace.
We’re running at full speed to catch up on the backlog, which, like many other manufacturers, is about eight weeks,” explains Frédéric Albert, president. At the beginning of the first wave, we were forced to slow down production at certain times, which explains the delays. Today, we can meet the delivery deadlines. The problem is that we don’t have enough manpower to put the pedal to the metal.
Currently, Laurin operates on two shifts. Recruiting is particularly difficult to fill the welder positions on the evening shift.
“With the labor shortage, they’re lucky to get daytime positions everywhere. So the evening shift is very difficult to fill,” says Albert.
To compensate for the shortage, Laurin has turned to international recruitment, which he plans to increase in the coming months.
“We are mainly looking at Tunisia and Morocco. We bought a house near the plant to house the foreign workers we will be recruiting,” explains Frédéric Albert. We are going gradually, a few at a time, to ensure successful integration.
“Foreign workers generally prefer to work in the evening. This is an advantage of international recruitment,” he adds.
Laurin also plans to increase its production capacity by expanding its 30,000-square-foot plant in the coming months.
“We want to add another 10,000 square feet. It doesn’t seem like much, but it will allow us to optimize space. This will allow us to manufacture two 70-yard containers simultaneously instead of one. This product represents 20 percent of our sales, which will give us a significant productivity boost.”
Frédéric Albert has big ambitions for Laurin, which he acquired in 2019 with his partner, Frédéric Chabanne. The two men are partners in Fredac, an investment firm that specializes in acquiring companies that need a turnaround but with high return potential.
In 2010, they bought Fibrobec, the manufacturer of fiberglass truck boxes, which was financially tricky then. Put back on track; it has since returned to profitability.
They are in the process of repeating the feat with Laurin, whose sales were stagnant. In two years, they have made several changes.
They reorganized the plant, revised the product catalog to focus on those with the best sales potential, and automated certain operations.
Soon to be exported
Laurin sells exclusively in Quebec, Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces. However, the two partners hope to start exporting in the near future.
We’re taking it one step at a time,” says Frédéric Albert. Our priority is to build on a solid foundation. We have an incredible product portfolio, and our containers have an excellent reputation. We also want to continue to support our current customers before diversifying our markets.
So Laurin is not done creating new positions.
Wednesday, March 10 2021 00:00
UPDATE Wednesday, 10 March 2021 00:00
Source: Le Journal de Québec