Our next profile is of local company, Northern Cables, which has been in operation since 1996 in Brockville. Their company manufacturers low voltage commercial and industrial power cables for a variety of sectors including hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, mines and many other business applications. They are a strong community leader with an emphasis on partnerships and growth, and a home-grown entrepreneurial success story. Keep reading to hear from Shelley Bacon, CEO of Northern Cables Inc., to find out more about how they got their start and how they have grown into the successful company that they are today.
1. Tell us a bit about how Northern Cables came to be and the path it took to get where it is today:
Phillips Cables was a Canadian public company that moved to Brockville in 1922 but closed in 1996 due to business conditions. Soon after the closure announcement, a group of 7 operational staff met regularly to discuss the potential for a business opportunity for themselves. After months of market research including supplier, equipment, and customer visits, a chance meeting was held with Allan D. Smith. Allan and his colleagues, David Beatty, Frank Davies, Donald B. Green, and Hugh F. Grightmire had acquired the 50 California Avenue Coca Cola manufacturing site with the hopes of creating employment in Brockville.
From this point, and with the assistance of Hugh Thorne, a new business plan was developed and approved by two chartered banks in the fall of 1996. The group had thinned to 5 and became incorporated on November 5, 1996. Continuous manufacturing operations (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) commenced in May 1997 and with the training and experience carried over from their history at Phillips Cables they were able to operate with care until they could start reinvesting in the company and begin the continuous growth that has brought us to today. After starting with just 15,000 square feet of factory space, the company now operates in 265,000 square feet on 22.5 acres in three major locations in Brockville and Prescott.
2. How many people work for your company?
We have 225 staff working for us.
3. How would you describe the Northern Cables team?
Everyone working at Northern Cables is hands on. Many in the staffing roles started by running production equipment; every opportunity is afforded to provide for advancement. Since inception, Northern Cables is highly technically staffed. It takes considerable support to maintain and incorporate equipment for new processes or new product lines, as well as to brand our product to Canadian and U.S. markets.
4. What types of positions are employed at Northern Cables?
We employ a wide range of positions with various skills. Some of the positions we employ include: production workers, shift co-ordinators, scheduling, bilingual customer service, accounting and finance, purchasing, product design engineering, process engineering, shipping logistics, and quality assurance.
5. What makes your company unique?
In addition to our standard product lines with CSA and UL licences, Northern is able to design and manufacture specialty cables with short lead times. The company provides custom interlocking armouring services, as well as private labelling for other North American firms.
6. What made Brockville a good fit as a location to build the company?
“Brockville is where the entrepreneurs and all our mentors were located. This is where the Phillips’ knowledge was and we were fortunate to have relied on those who had that knowledge. Furthermore, this is a great location to ship east, west, and to the United States."
- Shelley Bacon
7. What is something most people don’t know about your industry?
This is a mature, competitive industry. It is important to be efficient and have good control on costs to be able to compete. In recent years, we have seen more off shore products arriving in Canada that are priced lower than we can purchase raw materials, in some instances.
8. Is there anything you would like to highlight about your business?
a. We are hiring! Engineering, Trades and Production Workers
b. We are in the middle of an expansion project at our Prescott facility which will allow increased production at our Brockville facilities.
9. What is next for your company?
Northern Cables invests in personnel and capital to remain competitive and develop new products for sale. We would like to expand our access to foreign markets that have industrial applications like oil, gas and mining.
10. What would you say is the “best kept secret” about Brockville?
Location! Brockville is strategically situated on the 401 midway between Montreal and Toronto.
11. What would you tell other people who are considering setting up their business in Brockville?
“Location. Location. Location. For any company who is looking to set up their business in Brockville I would emphasize the great location! This city is strategically located on the 401 midway between Montreal and Toronto. Where Brockville is situated allows great opportunity to ship products easily between major markets along the 401 corridor."
- Shelley Bacon
Contact Northern Cables Inc.
Shelley Bacon, CEO
Location: 50 California Ave., Brockville Ontario
Click here to contact the Economic Development Office at the City of Brockville
or call 613-342-8772 x4440 for more information.
Engage with the local business community online: