Robots and digital automation boosting Cabico & co’s capacity to go deeper into North American markets
Quebec’s fifth-biggest wood products manufacturer Cabico & co is flexing new muscle and looking to hire more employees today after plunking down close to $25 million to expand and modernize its plant in the Eastern Townships with digital automation and robots.
“The company is always on the lookout to attract the best talent, best clients, and best partners,” said Cabico & co president Alain Ouzilleau.
“This digital and technological transformation of our installations is a positive force for change which will allow us to meet the expectations and realize the concepts of our clients.”
The company’s latest investment expands its plant in Coaticook by 33 per cent, to 200 000 square feet with the addition of a 50 000 square foot plant. The expansion also sees the addition of more office and meeting space.
But the biggest change in Cabico & co’s operations with this latest injection of funds into its equipment is the arrival of robots and digital automation and the marriage of that cutting-edge technology with its artisanal cabinet-making.
“Our robots and systems allow us to free up our talented artisans,” said Ouzilleau. “That augments our production capacity and ability to produce custom-made projects of the highest quality.”
The 35-year-old, Quebec-based company, which also has operations in St. Catharines, Ontario, employs 650 specialists and artisans in plants totalling 360 000 square feet in those provinces and was ranked 113th in the FDMC 300 this year.
The company has estimated total sales of $75 million through its two brands, Cabico and Elmwood.
In its bid to upgrade and interconnect the software needed for this expansion, the custom cabinet maker teamed up with Dunin Technologies, Nubik (Deloitte), Createch (Talan), PSTOX and Automatech.
Maryse Bellerose, director of corporate financing at the BDC, said the upgrades will allow Cabico & co to go after new business.
With its eyes on expansion throughout North America, Cabico & co is currently on a hiring blitz to fill several vacant positions, including general labourers, maintenance technicians, cabinetmakers and a master planner.
In Coaticook, Mayor Simon Madore was all smiles at the prospect of those new jobs.
“The Town of Coaticook is pleased to support its local entrepreneurs,” he said. “We congratulate Mr. Ouzilleau and the entire team at Cabico & co for their determination, bold innovation and the excellence of the work they do.”
The company, then called Group Cabico, was then ranked 117th on the FDMC 300 in 2016 when it swallowed up Ontario-based The Elmwood Group for an undisclosed amount, making it then the largest privately-held maker of custom cabinets in Canada and the third-biggest in North America. Included in that deal was cabinet door maker Maplecraft Doors.
The combined annual sales of the two companies at the time of the acquisition were reported at more than $100 million.
Elmwood had been in business since 1973 and the company’s owners described the sale as a way to build a synergy with Cabico and grow their operations.
“Together, with our 250 employees, we are very excited to join Cabico and its 350 employees, who are as dedicated to making fine quality cabinetry as we are,” said Bob Wiens, one of Elmwood’s former co-owners.
“Joining forces with Cabico makes us stronger and ensures the Elmwood brand will continue to be synonymous with innovation, quality and service.”
The deal also strengthened Cabico’s distribution network.
“Cabico and Elmwood are committed to positioning their businesses for strong growth and this is an important step that builds on the strengths and reputations of two of the leading custom cabinetry manufacturers in North America,” said Ouzilleau.
“Our combined product offering and network of more than 600 dealers give us unprecedented reach across the US and Canadian markets.”