A business that started in Colborne over four decades ago with under 10 employees and now boasts over 450 employees across Canada had cause for celebration on Friday, June 23, 2023.
The millionth transformer manufactured by Cam Tran of Colborne rolled off the line and the entire business in all the locations across Canada celebrated.
Cam Tran is still at the original location in Colborne’s Industrial Park making oil filled distribution transformers for electrical utilities across Canada.
Over the months leading up to today’s milestone, Cam Tran President, Kyle Campbell thought about the significance of the millionth transformer.
Campbell knew it was right to present the transformer to Lakefront Utility Services Inc. CEO Derek Paul.
Campbell, who has four brothers and a sister traced back to how the family got in the utility business.
His dad, George was a lineman for Cobourg PUC in the 1950’s for approximately 10-years then started into selling equipment to the utilities.
“From that spawned the idea that the Campbell family would be serving the utilities.”
Cobourg PUC evolved into Lakefront Utility Services Inc. so it made sense to present the milestone transformer.
“It’s been a great ride,” Campbell said taking a moment to speak to Today’s Northumberland about the celebration.
Campbell is the youngest of four brothers who are partners in the business, but he admits, “I’m the loudest.”
Two of his brothers were into sales, but have since retired and his other brother Campbell says, “was a books and analysis guy.”
Campbell said the family is still extremely close and still text each other every Leaf game, “and debate how they need to play,” he says with a smile.
Incorporated in 1982, Campbell said they started serving the small municipal utilities in Ontario which at that time there were over 300.
The future for the transformer industry is very strong Campbell said.
“With electrification, grid restoration, sadly storms, and the number of storms per year is increasing. And when storms hit, poles come down. So we’re extremely busy.”
Because of the excellence of the Cam Tran name, the transformer is known throughout Canada.
“My team has done a really good job of being there when utilities need us. Therefore we’ve been able to building long standing relationships right from BC to New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.”
Throughout the event on Friday, tours were given of the facility in Colborne and along with quality workmanship of the product is the attention the Campbell family gives to their employees.
“From day-one when we moved here in 1984 we had seven employees. Now at 450 I’m getting old and I don’t know half the names, but they know I care, they know we care.”
“The goal would be to be able to succeed and share with all of our employees in our success and we do that.”
Campbell said they have incentive bonuses and profit sharing among other things.
‘If you’ve got to get up and go to work everyday – hopefully they think Cam Tran is a pretty good place to go.”
At least four of the employees who work together at the plant have a perfect attendance over a two-year period.
Campbell said the employees work Monday to Thursday and have Friday off.
“I think a big part of our success growing up and growing a lot with these employees was respecting that you spend more time at work then you do with your families. So family time has to be cherished.”
Campbell admits it’s “trying to balance between what the customer needs and quality of work life balance for our employees has been critical to our success.”
Starting in the business many years ago, Campbell still remembers the first transformer he made.
From a successful story since the beginning to keeping his home town roots Campbell said he was “beaming with pride” on Friday.
“I look at all those employees out there and on-screen at the other plants and it brings joy that my brothers and I are able to provide what I think is a pretty good, stable place to work.”
Those comments were echoed by Lakefront Utilities Services Inc, Derek Paul.
“I can’t believe how incredible this location is.”
“Being a local supplier is critically important to us. Throughout the entire pandemic we relied on the relationships with suppliers such as Cam Tran. And being local allowed us to stay ahead of the curve or other utilities in the sector.”
Northumberland County Warden and Cramahe Mayor Mandy Martin said she was honoured to be at the milestone for the business.
“Because of the family tradition and the excellence of the product produced here. It just shows what can happen when honourable people, small town people, apply themselves.”
“This is remarkable. And through all of the disasters, the ice storms, the winter storms, this company and its family and employees, who are like an extended family, are making sure the electricity stays on.”
“Here they are, they are ahead of the curve and bringing everyone with them.”