Back from the brink
Slemon Park aerospace company narrowly avoided closing this month
The Testori Americas plant in Slemon Park nearly joined its sister company, Wiebel Aerospace, in oblivion at the end of 2015.
General manager Karl Yeom said he was given instructions by the parent company, TMC Avion of California, in December to lay off the remaining staff, including himself, and mothball the plant by the end of January. That closure was only staved off by a lastminute contract from Bombardier, which Yeom hopes has bought the company about another year of operation.
“So it’s challenging, but if we can find some more work, we can survive,” he said.
When Bombardier learned of the planned closure it called a meeting with Yeom and the leadership at TMC Avion. The Montréal-based aerospace giant had been Testori’s largest customer, and its representatives wanted to know how to keep Testori open in an attempt to save the time and effort the companies had invested in each other.
“We’ve worked for Bombardier for almost 20 years,” said Yeom.
Bombardier committed an order of $200,000 worth of parts, with a commitment of more work if that first order is successful.
Testori Americas in P.E.I. manufactures rail car interior components and has operated in the Summerside area since the late 1990s.
Until about five years ago it employed 150 people. Only 15 remain, with three more being laid off in the next couple of weeks.
Those left behind only work four days a week.
Testori’s sister company, Weibel Aerospace, closed its Greenwood Drive facility in Summerside in November, and it is currently for sale.
Both companies were purchased by TMC Avion in 2011, soon after Testori and Weibel became mired in lawsuits and countersuits.
The companies owed taxpayers about $12.1 million at that point, but the provincial government sold that debt to a company called P.E.I. Westside Funding for $5 million in 2013.