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Drader Manufacturing Celebrates 75 years

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Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

Operating out of Edmonton, (headquarters) and Brampton, Ontario, Drader Manufacturing uses proprietary technology in a wide variety of products including milk crates, bread trays, warehouse bins, plastic welding and much more.

In 1947, up in Alberta’s oil sands, a man drove a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer into a bog. The driver’s name is lost to history, but the man who pulled the Cat out was Clarence Drader. When he saw the Cat sinking into the bog, Clarence asked the people in charge what they were going to do. They replied, “We don’t know, but that Cat has to come out for environmental and safety reasons.” Clarence responded, “Okay, if I get it out, can I keep it?” A few wooden poles, beams and pullies later, Clarence was the proud owner of a used and slightly damp Caterpillar D8. He ended up selling it, but, along with the money he was paid to do the job, Clarence used the funds to expand his business, C. H. Drader Garage and Machine Shop. He went on to found Drader Manufacturing.

“This story shows the entrepreneurial nature of the company,” says Gordon McTavish, President. “Clarence didn’t say, ‘It can’t be done.’ He had the same attitude to plastic welding. He was a metal welder who looked at plastics and said, ‘Why can’t I weld this like I weld steel?’ and found a solution for the problem. Today the Drader Injectiweld system is unparalleled for its ability to weld or repair plastics.”

The Injectiweld is not the only way Drader Manufacturing has changed an entire industry. In 1957, Honey Boy Bakery approached Clarence to improve the bread boxes they were using for Burger Baron.

“The boxes were called Bingos,” says Jeff McTavish, Vice President of Operations. “As the bread was made and came off the line, it would be put in a box and shoved down a conveyer belt to be stacked or moved. The boxes were solid wood, cumbersome and very heavy. The loader would yell ‘Bingo!’ to the catcher so they would be aware that a box was coming down the line. If they missed it, the catcher could suffer possible injury. Honey Boy needed a better solution.” 

Drader was able to offer a stackable all-steel tray, which reduced safety concerns while improving the handling of the bread. Eventually the steel bread tray evolved into a nestable lower-cost plastic base. The changeover to this space-saving plastic base improved safety and handling logistics even more. The plastic bakery tray gained Drader worldwide recognition.

“Drader is focused on sustainability through our reusable plastic products, recycling, product design and engineering,” says Kevin McTavish, Vice President of Manufacturing. Drader was one of the first companies to introduce recycling programs by receiving customers old trays to reproduce into new trays using their recycled resin. 

Kevin provides a snapshot of the brand’s past and current milestones, saying, “It was 1969 when MAC Plastics Ltd. introduced Drader to plastics, allowing us to replace steel and metal components with plastic products. In 1979, Dave Drader, Clarence’s son, purchased the company and expanded the bakery side of the business. The brand changed hands again in 1989 when Gordon McTavish and a group of local businessmen purchased the business from Dave.”

Kevin continues, “At that time, Clarence was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, but he was still tinkering and creating. In 1991, he developed the Injectiweld, our revolutionary product for plastic welding. By 1996 Drader Manufacturing needed a larger facility, so we built a state-of-the-art new facility on 50th Street in Edmonton. Just six years later an expansion was necessary to keep up with the company’s growth.”

With the latest expansion, Drader turned its focus inwards and explored ways to produce a leaner and more efficient organization. 

“We invested in automation without laying off staff,” says Gordon, proudly. “The goal was to innovate, but never to lay off people. We sent them into other positions or provided retraining. Automation helps our people do their jobs in a safer and more organized way. We continue to leverage automation to increase productivity and save our team from incurring repetitive strain injuries. Automation also empowers our team to spend more time on quality control, as opposed to just on assembly.”

Drader Manufacturing continued to evolve and expand, serving customers in Ontario, Quebec and throughout North American markets. Coupled with the desire to better serve their existing customers, this expansion highlighted the need to have a manufacturing facility in the Greater Toronto Area. Their new facility opened in 2012 in Brampton, Ontario, helping Drader service its customers from coast to coast in both Canada and the United States. 

“We enjoy helping our customers with the many solutions we offer,” says Jeff. “Often, they approach us only with the idea to achieve cost efficiency with custom plastic parts. We take the time to find solutions for our customers, while taking their ideas and adapting them through our advanced technology. Our team has decades of experience in plastic parts design and mechanical engineering.”

“In addition to the plastic welder, we offer injection molding, mold building, extrusion, thermoforming, vacuum forming, part design and 3D printing. Our product list includes milk crates, bakery equipment, the Injectiweld plastic welder, warehouse and distribution bins, thermoformed products, PPE, pipe thread protectors and numerous custom and specialty items.

“We are unique in our abilities and remain a top and respected one-stop-shop despite global competition from countries known for mass producing ‘cheap’ plastic parts.”

As the company grew from three to more than 100 core team members, what remained unchanged was their unwavering focus on – and continued appreciation for – their staff. 

Gordon points out, “We employ a very diverse workforce from a large variety of local communities within Edmonton. For example, when people in South East Asia were evacuated due to political tensions and had no place to go, the Canadian government stepped in to welcome them here. Drader was able to support these newcomers by employing numerous individuals, teaching them new skills and helping them to thrive here in Edmonton. Our head electrician swam across a river at night – under the threat of gunfire – to save his life. Later, his brother followed and joined our team. Drader has also hired many people from across Canada who have left their province in search of better work opportunities. We hire from our local First Nations and East Indian communities. We are proud of our engineering team that spans the globe from Canada to Ethiopia to Estonia.”

Kevin adds, “Our townhall meetings acknowledge everyone’s input. This has allowed us to adapt processes and products while empowering the team to do their best work. We firmly believe in and practice collaboration.”

Firmly invested in community, Drader Manufacturing is happy to give back in a variety of ways. For more than 20 years, Drader has hosted a charity golf tournament in support of local charities, such as the Edmonton Food Bank, the Mazankowski Heart Institute and the Canadian Diabetes Association. This year Drader is proud to support the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

Drader Manufacturing has been recognized many times over the years for its innovation, products, service and safety. The McTavishes are particularly proud of receiving both an Association of Science and Engineering Technology (ASET) award for manufacturing, as well as a safety award for seven consecutive years with no lost time incidents. They are also honoured to have received a customer recognition supplier-of-the-year award from a national corporation.

Throughout the years, the ownership group gives credit to the team: “They are behind all of our ongoing success stories, we couldn’t do this without them.”

They also appreciate the communities that have supported Drader locally and abroad, as well as the vendors that continue to be integral to operations despite global challenges such as product shortages and supply chain disruptions. Drader Manufacturing is pleased to have built and maintained long-lasting relationships with suppliers that keep products and materials moving efficiently, no matter the global climate.

What comes next? Gordon is happy to report, “Growth and expansion of products and services! We will continue to provide jobs throughout Canada and put significant investment back into our nation.”

Learn more about Drader Manufacturing on Facebook and LinkedIn, and at www.drader.com. Also be sure to check out Drader’s YouTube channel, where their videos have received well over 1 million views.

Thank you, from Drader!

We are proud to have completed 75 years of service, with the best yet to come! A special thank you to our staff and families for their efforts and support throughout the years. Our team and their well-being remain our focus as we continue to innovate and provide industry-leading solutions inspired by the same entrepreneurial spirit instilled in the brand from day-one of operations. 

We express our sincere gratitude to our long-term customers, our shareholders, our reliable vendors and to our community that empowers us to give back. 

As we move into the next evolution of our brand, we look forward to continuing to set the standard by being a leader in plastic manufacturing, while providing our customers with excellent service and products and providing our people with a wonderful, safe place to work.

From all of us to all of you, thank you. 

5750 – 50 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6B 2Z8
Call: (780) 440-2231 • Toll Free: 1 (800) 661-4122
www.drader.com

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