As NFE Manufacturing Inc. celebrates a staggering 130 years in business, the company is staying future-focussed.
NFE began as a steel foundry in 1888, but has grown to offer a diverse set of services including machining, fabrication, engineering, waterjet cutting, painting and sandblasting, and more.
“A lot of people are still unaware of the diverse range of services our company is capable of,” says general manager Lee Miah. “There are two main things that set our company apart.
Number one is our people, who bring decades of experience and expertise to the table. Number two, we are a one-stop shop. We don’t just weld things together and sell it to another contractor. We can design and engineer, build, paint, install, and provide after sales services on our installs.”
Since 1999, the company has been operating out of a facility located on eight acres of land in Chemainus, employing certified engineers, machinists, fabricators, millwrights, and pipefitter to meet the diverse needs of their clients.
In 2016, the growing diversity of services prompted the company to change its name from Nanaimo Foundry to NFE Manufacturing Inc.
“Ultimately, we sell solutions,” says Miah. “We have some of the best engineers and designers in the industry, who aren’t afraid to step out of the textbook and get creative with their solutions.”
“A sizeable percentage of our customers will send us nothing more than a rough idea of what they need and a few measurements. Our engineers and designers will conduct field trips and additional research to put together the best possible solutions. That’s why plants come to us: expertise, checks and balances, and better suggestions. We act as consultants, helping clients discover the most safe and cost-effective solutions for their needs.”
NFE offers these solutions to clients in a diverse range of industries, including oil and gas, mining, aerospace, hydro-electric, forestry, and marine industries, creating innovative solutions for each client’s unique need.
Currently, the company is in a long-term partnership with Nicholson Manufacturing Limited, which builds machines for the forestry industry. NFE supplies many of the major components to Nicholson, designing, painting, and shipping them to the factory in Victoria, where the machines are assembled.
“Nicholson has the utmost faith in our quality, and that’s why we have this contract,” says Miah. “It accounts for a great deal of the work we do in Chemainus.”
Additionally, NFI, NFE’s field division, has been involved in a retrofitting project that will restart the Nyrstar Mine in Myra Falls, which primarily produces copper and zinc concentrate.
Strikers Welding, a division of NFE, serves customers from Campbell River north, allowing the company to serve the whole Island.
As the company grows, it endeavors to attract the highest quality tradespeople and engineers, maintaining high workplace standards.
“The average tenure of an employee is about 10 years, which speaks volumes for an organization of this kind in our day and age,” comments Miah.
In Chemainus, the staff is unionized through the Machinists, Fitters & Helpers Union, with many of the senior employees offering top-level expertise to new hires and apprentices.
“Safety in the workplace is also one of our core values as a company,” continues Miah. “We just completed our 2018 COR Audit, and our result was about 94 per cent for the year, which is nearly unheard-of in our industry.”
In the coming decades, NFE plans to continue to meet needs in growing and emerging industries.
“We’re currently investing in research and development for some of our own green product initiatives,” says Miah. “We have been involved in several related projects so far, and have been developing some cutting-edge environmentally-friendly products, such as a frack water recycling unit.”
“In the future, we want to continue to develop innovative solutions, attract more creative experts, and invest in the future. While we continue to excel in our industry, we have a strong long-term focus that involves investing in new technology.”