Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - BILL RE­DEKOP­dekop@freep­

UBERT Kley­sen of Kley­sen Trans­port was sav­ing a prop­erty next to Richard­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port, with the plan to make it into the fu­ture hub of Win­nport, the pro­posed in­land ter­mi­nal that would link Win­nipeg with China.

Win­nport failed but Kley­sen’s dream has still be­come a re­al­ity, al­beit a mod­i­fied one.

Red River Col­lege an­nounced the pur­chase Mon­day of the Win­nport site from Kley­sen for the per­ma­nent home of the col­lege’s Steven­son Avi­a­tion Cam­pus.

Win­nport “worked out, in a way,” Kley­sen’s son Tom said, while in at­ten­dance at the an­nounce­ment. His fa­ther, who turns 83 this week, was out of town on a fam­ily mat­ter.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing that Win­nport wasn’t suc­cess­ful but, as we fast-for­ward 20 years, the legacy of that idea of my fa­ther’s is this build­ing is be­ing used in a sus­tain­able way to pro­vide on­go­ing ben­e­fits to stu­dents and ul­ti­mately to our prov­ince,” Tom Kley­sen said.

The col­lege has been leas­ing the han­gar since 2002 for its avi­a­tion classes. The pur­chase “at a fam­ily dis­count” will al­low the col­lege to con­tinue pre­par­ing fu­ture em­ploy­ees for the city’s avi­a­tion and aero­space in­dus­try, said Paul Vogt, pres­i­dent and CEO of Red River Col­lege.

“Now that we own it, we can grow it, we can add to it, we can change it,” Vogt said.

One of the ar­eas that is chang­ing in the field of avi­a­tion is the switch to com­pos­ites in­stead of alu­minum. That is “a huge change from the kind of class­rooms that we had be­fore,” Vogt said.

The col­lege will save $1 mil­lion over the 25-year length of the mort­gage. That’s how much less it will pay in mort­gage pay­ments as op­posed to lease pay­ments. Af­ter that, it will be clear sav­ings, Vogt said.

The pur­chase also gives the col­lege cer­tainty. If Win­nport or some vari­a­tion ever had be­come a re­al­ity, the Red River Col­lege avi­a­tion cam­pus could have got­ten the boot.

That prompted a Win­nipeg Jets metaphor from Vogt: “Like them, we’re in it for the long haul and we won’t let tem­po­rary set­backs get in the way,” he said, al­lud­ing to the team’s play­off drub­bing in Min­neapo­lis on Sun­day night.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Ian Wishart was on hand to back the RRC’s plan to bor­row $8 mil­lion to buy the prop­erty. The col­lege re­quires gov­ern­ment ap­proval to bor­row, as set out in the Red River Col­lege Act.

The guar­an­teed lo­ca­tion is great for Win­nipeg’s avi­a­tion and aero­space sec­tor, the third-largest in Canada. “Al­most ev­ery sin­gle one of my me­chan­i­cal em­ploy­ees came through this fa­cil­ity,” said Kim Westen­skow, Boe­ing Canada gen­eral man­ager.

Boe­ing em­ploys 1,600 peo­ple in Win­nipeg. “There’s lots more to come” in terms of jobs, Westen­skow main­tained.

The Win­nipeg plant is in the process of hir­ing 200 to 250 new em­ploy­ees, she said. That process started last year and will likely con­tinue into next

Hyear as grad­u­ates are trained.

The fa­cil­ity on Red River’s Steven­son Avi­a­tion Cam­pus is to be named the Hu­bert Kley­sen Han­gar.

The Kley­sen fam­ily also will set up a schol­ar­ship fund for stu­dents in the Red River pro­gram, per­haps in the form of as­sis­tance for stu­dents who need fi­nan­cial help. “The fi­nal de­tails of that are be­ing worked out,” Tom Kley­sen said.

Some of Hu­bert Kley­sen’s phi­lan­thropy has in­cluded sup­port of St. Paul’s High School, the Health Sciences Cen­tre and ed­u­ca­tion.

“My dad has al­ways felt for­tu­nate and blessed in life that he was able to have fi­nan­cial suc­cess through his busi­ness, and an im­por­tant part of that has al­ways been giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity,” Tom Kley­sen said.

RRC’s Steven­son Avi­a­tion Cam­pus of­fers diploma pro­grams for air­craft main­te­nance en­gi­neers, aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­ni­cians and gas tur­bine en­gine re­pair. About 400 stu­dents per year grad­u­ate from the pro­gram, which is the feeder sys­tem for the city’s avi­a­tion and aero­space in­dus­try that em­ploys about 5,000 peo­ple and con­trib­utes $1.9 bil­lion to Man­i­toba’s econ­omy an­nu­ally.

Sur­veys show from 80 to 90 per cent of grad­u­ates find em­ploy­ment, with 90 per cent say­ing they would rec­om­mend the pro­grams to oth­ers.


Tom Kley­sen, son of Hu­bert, was on hand Mon­day for the an­nounce­ment of the sale of the Win­nport site. His fa­ther was out of town on a fam­ily mat­ter.


Red River Col­lege pres­i­dent and CEO Paul Vogt says the school now can grow its avi­a­tion pro­gram.

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