Delta MP Carla Qualtrough paid a visit to the Heli-One helicopter maintenance facility in Delta on Friday, assuring its workers her government will do what it can to allow more companies to get in on government contracts that are mainly awarded for competitors in the east.
Specializing in rotor wing maintenance, component repair and overhaul for a range of helicopters, company officials were eager to show their state-of-the art facility on River Road, located behind ASCO Industries which is also involved in the aircraft component industry.
Heli-One representatives and employees where especially interested in talking with Qualtrough and have her see what they’re all about, since she’s the minister of public services and procurement.
Employing around 300, Heli-One for a time was located at Boundary Bay Airport but relocated almost two years ago, moving their operation to the River Road facility as well as another in Richmond, and a small satellite location at Boundary Bay. The company also has maintenance facilities in Norway and Poland as well as distribution hubs around the world, but it’s remaining in western Canada that’s been top of mind for the company hoping to secure federal government contracts in the billions usually going to eastern-based firms.
Stephen Ow, senior director of business development and sales, said the company has a highly-trained and skilled workforce with a specialized skillset, but the opportunities can be even greater with more government contracts including military. Their goal is to expand their footprint in Canada, he said, describing Heli-One as “a hidden jewel” on the west coast. He also pointed to the announcement this year of the Richmond aviation engine service business Standard Aero’s plan to relocate to Winnipeg.
Qualtrough assured that part of her mandate is to diversify who receives government contracts across the country and help remove roadblocks facing western Canadian firms. Her mandate also includes modernizing the procurement process so that it’s less burdensome for qualified companies to apply, she said.
Saying she was impressed with Heli-One’s operation Qualtrough said she’ll look into arranging another tour of the facility with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
During the tour an employee asked Qualtrough about the latest in the NAFTA talks with the U.S. Qualtrough noted Canada has to be tough and “not accept just any deal” because the country will have to live with it long after the current president is gone.