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Business of the Month: 'Stamp of excellence' is the mark that's kept Sault machine shop in business for 90 years

Founded in 1933, a third generation at Rector Machine Works has expanded into mining, forestry, power generation clients
Community members, customers, vendors, former employees, and dignitaries gathered to celebrate with Rector Machine Works' 90th anniversary in August. (Nadine Robinson photo)

When the Rectors sent out invitations to their 90th anniversary celebration, they weren’t sure how many people would show up. 

On Aug. 10, over 100 community members, customers, vendors, former employees, and dignitaries attended. Since it was an outdoor barbeque event and rain was forecast, they were relieved that the sun also RSVPed.

Rector Machine Works Ltd was founded in 1933 by Herv Sr. and his wife Loretta in Espanola. They relocated to Sault Ste. Marie a decade later. Then, Herv Jr. and his wife Sandi took over the business in 1967. Now owned by the third generation, David and Mark Rector took over in 2015. The anniversary event was filled with many thanks, shared memories, and a few tears.

“Ninety years of excellence in business is a remarkable achievement,” said Mark Rector. “We have a reputation of providing our customers with unmatched service, quality, and reliability. So for the next 90 years, our unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and customer satisfaction will remain our guiding stars.”

Regarding excellence and innovation, Rector Machine Works was the first machine shop in Sault Ste. Marie to be ISO certified in 1995 and the first and only in the Algoma district to be Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) certified for aluminum fabrication in 2018. They broke ground in 1998 on the Sackville Road location and expanded again in 2015 with the help of FedNor funds.

Achieving those certifications allowed the Rectors to bid on certain jobs that they couldn’t have otherwise, including projects in mining, military, automotive, and steel.

Regarding the aluminum certification, it was also to target a niche market that no one else in the region was doing.

“Both are about quality control and continuous improvement,” said David.

Mark added: “It helps to make us better through set policies and procedures, ensuring that all of our work going out the door has our stamp of excellence on it.”

David believes that it’s all about building relationships and their customers knowing that every job is important to the machining, welding and fabricating shop. They also do industrial contracting, align boring, hydraulics, rebuilds, and custom metalwork.

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“You’re only as good as your last job,” David said. “And you’re only as good as your relationships with customers, vendors, and employees. We say it a lot, but we’re a family business, and that means that we treat everyone we work with like family. Loyalty is important, and we give it and it gets returned,”

Since Herv Jr.’s passing in 2019, David focuses on the sales, business development, and ISO side of the company, while Mark oversees human resources, capital expenditures, health and safety, and employee well-being. David’s wife Karen is the controller. They brought in Brian Belec as general manager.

“It’s great to see a business in our community thrive through nine decades,” said Mayor Matthew Shoemaker, who attended the event. “Hopefully, that will continue for another nine decades and beyond. There are very few century businesses in the Sault, and the Rectors will be able to join that exclusive group after another 10 years of success.”

MP Ross Romano said: “What a great day to get together with Dave and Mark and the great staff of Rector Machine Works. Their company has truly stood the test of time and it was an honour to celebrate their 90th anniversary. Here’s to many more years of building business and community here in the Sault.”

Some of the highlights for David and Mark in their respective 27 and 34 years of full-time work at the family business include: expanding operations to include work in the steel, forestry, power generation, mining and pulp and paper industries, and now working alongside two of their children.

But you can’t go 90 years without weathering some storms as well. They’ve dealt with the loss of the patriarch and matriarch of the business in 2019, COVID, multiple business cycle and industry downturns, and now the skilled trades shortages.

The Rectors are proud of their ability to give back to the community.

“ARCH was our parents’ favourite charity, and we’ve continued that,” said Mark. “Anything we raise goes to them, and we sponsor their golf classic every year, just like dad used to, to guarantee one day a year we’d all get to golf together.”

Rector Machine Works is also a part of MineConnect, a pan-northern mining association that allows networking to keep more of the work in Northern Ontario. David has been a board member for the past 12 years.

Rector employs 50 people, 38 full-time and 12 part-time, in their 20,000-square-foot facility, and serves customers predominantly in Northern Ontario, but also across North America.



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