In February 2019, Charlottetown Metal Products (CMP) was acquired by Food Process Solutions (FPS), a global manufacturer of food freezing and cooling equipment. The FPS head office is in Vancouver BC, and there are locations in the southern US, Brazil, China, the Netherlands, and now on PEI as well.
CMP, located in Milton, has designed, built, and installed custom stainless-steel food processing equipment since 1957. The equipment is used in French-fry plants, frozen vegetable and fruit processors, and poultry plants, to name a few.
On the Island, customers include Cavendish Farms, Jasper Wyman Blueberries, as well as lobster and mussel processors. Most sales are to companies across Canada and the US.
There are plans for a major expansion that will double CMP’s existing 42,000 square-foot facility, and they also plan to double their staff numbers over the next three years.
“The expansion will allow us to manufacture a broader range of products, and to be the east coast manufacturing base for FPS products,” says Trevor Spinney, president of CMP.
About the staff
The company has a staff of about 85. One third are in salaried positions, and two-thirds work on the shop floor or on customer sites. “We have a good mix of ages,” says Trevor. “About 15 percent are over 50, and most are in their mid 20s to early 40s.”
Most of the staff are Islanders, and some are from the Maritimes and Ontario. Trevor moved here from Vancouver eight years ago.
“Although I know I will be a CFA for life, I am a true Islander by heart,” says Trevor. “Welding and fabricating is science mixed with art. They take a drawing and use stainless steel to make a product. They need to understand how to design and build equipment that minimizes the chance for bacterial growth and keeps food safe. The work is very creative. Many of our welders/fabricators are musicians or artists in their spare time.”
- Engineering: Designers, Project Managers, Technical Sales people
- Finance and Administrative positions
Currently, the company’s website highlights the following open positions:
- Metal Fabricator and Welder with one to two years of experience.
- Fly in/fly out Metal Fabricator/Welder/Installer travels to customer sites as part of the installation team. They would work on site three or four weeks, travel home for a week, and then go to the next destination.
- Project Manager with five to 10 years of project management experience.
- Senior Designer creating 3D designs of equipment using Autodesk Inventor.
- Technical Sales in Ontario and Quebec.
- Technical Sales Engineer-Inside with two to five years of experience in mechanical design and project estimating.
“We are always looking for talent, and as we continue to grow, there will be more job opportunities. We first look to hire Islanders and people with roots here, because chances are they will want to stay with us long-term.”
Wages and benefits
“No one at CMP works for minimum wage,” says Trevor. “We offer high-paying jobs.”
Employees receive a standard medical benefit plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and CMP covers a portion of the contributions. “We are working to add dental benefits as well. The company matches employee RRSP contributions up to a certain percent threshold.
“In the summer, the leadership team regularly cooks a barbeque at no charge for staff. We also have a company Christmas party and golf tournaments. We bring in a birthday cake per month and hold pizza parties as well. We also invite employees to strategy sessions and conduct frequent town hall meetings to keep our employees informed. We want to continue to invest in these kinds of events.”
All employees work full-time, year-round. “We are a project-based business, so unfortunately there are occasionally some layoffs of fabricators. We look forward to FPS providing some additional stability and rounding out the project cycle. We want our employees to know they have a job with us for life, if that is what they are looking for.”
On the shop floor, fabricators can choose to work 10-hour daytime work days Monday to Thursday, or eight-hour daytime shifts Monday to Friday. Most overtime is scheduled for Fridays, so that employees can still enjoy a two-day weekend. Engineering and administrative positions run Mondays to Fridays.
Most difficult position to fill
“All positions are hard to fill. In comparison to other geographical locations, PEI has a huge number of folks who know their way around welding and fabricating, maybe because so many grew up on farms, and because the Holland College welding program has always been popular.
“Finding Senior Design Engineers can be challenging. We will be hiring from the new graduating class of the UPEI Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering, but we also need senior people who can provide mentorship. We often have to attract those people from outside the province.
“PEI is a beautiful place, so it is up to us to convince others to move here. Trying to hire folks from a big city centre is often effective if they are looking for a place to raise their families, or if they have a connection to the Island.”
Open positions are posted on the company website and are picked up by other job posting sites such as www.indeed.ca They also advertise through www.careerbeacon.com.
In addition, they use a recruiting company called Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette at www.kbrs.ca. “Word of mouth also works – we ask our employees if they know anyone suitable.”
Best way to get your foot in the door
“Check our website to learn about the company. Call reception and ask for a 20-minute informational interview with the person heading the specific area you are interested in.
“Check the job description in the ad. If you think you can do 60 to 70 percent of what we are looking for, go ahead and apply.
“Always send a cover letter. Structure it to illustrate what you can do to help the company grow, not what the company can do for you. Show that you know something about the company, and how you can fit in.
“I always read the cover letter first, and if there is even one typo, I won’t go any further. Typos make a bad first impression. They tell me the person does not pay attention to detail, they can’t use a computer spell check, or they don’t want to take the time to do a good job.
“Don’t make the resumé and cover letter too long. One page for the cover letter, two pages for the resumé is sufficient.
“If you email your resumé, put the job title you want to apply for in the subject line. Follow up in a few days with a phone call. Don’t wait for us to call you.
“If you drop in with a resumé, don’t leave right away. Ask the receptionist if you can speak to someone who manages the area you are interested in or ask for their contact information. Don’t address the cover letter to ‘to whom it may concern.’ Ask the receptionist for the name of the hiring manager.”
Typical interview questions
- What motivated you to apply? If you are currently working, why are you moving from that organization?
- What do you know about CMP? To prepare, read the website and look for press releases.
- Why are you interested in this specific position?
- What are you looking for in a job?
- Are you looking at this job as a springboard to go somewhere else?
- Describe past experiences that relate to the open position.
How to stand out during the hiring process
After the interview, email a thank-you letter outlining what you talked about and what you hope the next step will be. Follow up in a few days with a phone call.
Terms of initial employment
“A three-month probation period helps the employer and the new hire determine if they have made the right choice.”
In house training provided
“Graduates come to us with a lot of skills and knowledge. But there is no particular education called Food Machinery Engineering 101. There is a lot of on-the-job learning.”
Trevor says peer-to-peer training is important. “We have an open office without cubicles, so that designers can consult with each other. On the floor, there is a lot of hands-on training and mentoring with our experienced staff. We have an in-house mentorship committee to transfer the skills from our more experienced employees to our more junior staff.
“The welders coming out of school are well trained, but understanding how to piece everything together takes years to master.”
When working for the company, what is the key to successful employment?
“Successful employees work as if they own the company. Think about what you can do for the company, not necessarily what the company can do for you. We look for people who enjoy what they are doing, and want to learn more.”
“As we continue to grow, there will be a huge number of opportunities for current employees to advance into leadership, management, or knowledge-based positions. Several times in the past, people have moved from manufacturing into technical design or sales, or from junior to senior positions, or from design into project management. We offer lots of ways to grow.”