Global manufacturing in Chilliwack, B.C.


IronsideBy Anna Guy

It is a Canadian success story; for more than a century, Ironside has been a mainstay for metal work in Chilliwack. Every week, trucks leave Ironside Design Manufacturing’s 70,000-square-foot facility in Chilliwack, B.C. carrying products destined to be shipped around the world.

The company has evolved over the years—Ironside was initially a Blacksmith Shop and a general manufacturer of farm equipment—with the focus on CSP going back to the 1960s.

Today, Ironside designs and makes Corrugated Steel Pipe manufacturing machines for a global market. From Australia to North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa—many of the corrugated steel pipes in the world are made with Ironside machinery.

Revolutionary machinery

In 1965, under the leadership of Jim Nyssen, Ironside revolutionized the CSP industry by creating one of the world’s first helical lock-seam pipe manufacturing machines—a truly innovative piece of machinery—which brought Ironside worldwide recognition.

This legacy affords Ironside an unprecedented expertise and capability in the industry. The success is all in the design. Customers come to Ironside because its mills are ruggedly engineered, ensuring that they have as little maintenance costs as possible. The machines have also been precision machined and fabricated to exact tolerances for trouble-free operation.

Flexibility is also a key advantage of Ironside’s pipe mills. The mills are designed to allow the production of various profiles, sizes and diameters and steel thicknesses on one mill. As well, with the simple addition of shears, slitters and perforators, customers can also produce other products, such as corrugated sheets and bands.

One-Stop Shop

Inside Ironside’s operation is a fully-equipped manufacturing facility with a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling machine and plasma tables, fabricating and welding section, and paint shop. According to Stephen Peel, Vice President, Ironside produces 99 per cent of the components on its projects in-house, citing that motors and electrical components are the only item requiring outsourcing, and the majority of that is sourced locally. “From our own design facility through to shipping, we do everything in-house at Ironside,” says Peel.

Being a one-stop shop has proven to render massive advantage to Ironside’s customers. Particularly with custom equipment, subcontracting out major projects from one plant to another poses challenges around scheduling, varying quality control standards, and progress reporting. Ironside is ISO 9001 certified—the international standard for quality control systems—ensuring that the quality of product is consistent across the board. Customers are able to follow the progress of their projects and can rely on set budgets and schedules.

To put it another way, Ironside saves customers time and money—the Alpha and the Omega of business.

Award-Winning Apprenticeship Program

“Although we are very proud of the fact that CSP products on five continents are made by our equipment,” says Peel, “we are most proud that we are a global supplier of CSP forming machines from a family-owned business in Chilliwack.”

Ironside’s family-oriented business culture extends into the broader Chilliwack community in the form of the company’s award-winning apprenticeship program. In February, 2017, Ironside Design Manufacturing was honoured at the 14th Annual Small Business BC Awards for the company’s exemplary training model.

“Through our relationships with local schools we are seeing an increase in school tours to learn about our manufacturing facility and what the skilled trades can offer,” says Peel “We believe that sharing the knowledge and experiences of our previous graduates and qualified trades people with apprentices will build up knowledgeable and sought after graduates who will then choose to stay on with us. We want to encourage the youth as much as possible to come into our shop, to look around, and match them with our experienced journeymen and welders. Trades can get you very far in life and a very good career.”

It is a career that impacts the manufacturing industry around the world. Presently, the Ironside team is establishing stronger manufacturing connections in the Indian market, and continue to innovate with new technology. As far as Ironside products go, Peel says his team is proudly Canadian. “Our amazing employees, and support from our Federal and Provincial governments allow us to develop new products and keep in the forefront of technology so that our machines can get sold around the world.”