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Barrie manufacturing company 'digs deep' to achieve Honda award

'Honda has a very big reach. … We ship tractor-trailer loads of parts directly to Ohio and Alabama and different places like that,' says A.B.A. Machine & Welding general manager

A 31-year-old Barrie company has been honoured by Honda North America for pushing through recent challenges in being able to maintain its supplies to the automaking giant.

A.B.A. Machine & Welding, located on Welham Road in the city's south end, received Honda’s Challenging Spirit Award as an indirect supplier.

“It’s actually quite substantial,” said Chad Mullins, general manager of the local machine and welding company. “Honda has a very big reach. … We ship tractor-trailer loads of parts directly to Ohio and Alabama and different places like that.

“Typically, when they put in a request for a delivery date, that’s when they need it and that’s when it has to be there," he added. "As a company, we need to dig deep and do what needs to be done to accommodate their request.”

The award recognizes A.B.A.’s ability to go above and beyond in its manufacturing by supplying Honda plants across the continent, particularly faced with challenges during the pandemic.

The automotive industry, and many others, have been hampered by a worldwide parts shortage and shipping delays during the past 18 months.

The Barrie company “continued to be one of the most reliable machine shops for Honda Engineering North America (EGA) in Canada, Ohio, Alabama and Indiana,” states a letter that accompanied the award. “Despite the challenges presented by COVID, labour shortage and supply issues, A.B.A. Machine & Welding (Barrie), Inc. increased its Honda EGA business by more than 13 per cent.”

Mullins says years of experience helped the company to meet the demand, despite the challenges which includes an increased labour shortage.

“Skilled labour is difficult for us to find, but we do have a lot of loyal, quality tradesmen that are employed now. And when Honda essentially calls us and asks: ‘Can you do this, can you meet our delivery?’ we almost always say yes,” he said.

The trades shortage has worsened in the last several years, Mullins added.

A.B.A. Machine & Welding employs about 40 people, but if more skilled help were available, he said it would expand by adding more machines and increase its workforce.

The company services the automotive, automation, mining and construction industries, making everything from small, intricate 3D machine components to welding various structures.

Machinists typically earn upwards of $30 per hour. Mullin says A.B.A. does bring on apprentices to help people develop their careers.