By Mary Ann Barr
About 200 people could be losing their jobs after the Finning Centre of Excellence in Red Deer announced on Thursday it is closing in early 2017.
One of the key functions of the heavy-equipment dealer in Red Deer is preparing and customizing new machinery prior to its delivery to customers. It also overhauls used machinery.
Finning Canada is part of Finning International, which is headquartered in Vancouver and the largest Caterpillar equipment dealer in the world. It supplies machinery for the forestry, mining, construction and other industries.
Finning Canada opened the Centre of Excellence (COE) in Red Deer in 2008, after buying Collicutt Energy Services Ltd. — including its Edgar Industrial Park facilities.
The final number on job losses is not yet known. The company will try and retain and relocate as many employees as possible but will be redistributing the work in Red Deer to other locations.
“It’s important to note we are not leaving the community as we have a customer-facing branch in Red Deer that will continue to serve customers in the area. This was a difficult decision and we are doing our best to retain and relocate as many employees as possible.” Hillary Anaka, company spokesperson, said in a statement.
Third-quarter results for the company showed a 12-per-cent decline in revenue.
Reg Warkentin, policy and advocacy manager at the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that the layoffs are really unfortunate timing considering recent reports that the Alberta economy is beginning to take a turn for the better.
Finning is an international company making a strategic decision and activity at the Centre of Excellence is subject to world commodity glut, he said.
Much of the work at the COE was for equipment used for the oil sands, and ongoing low oil prices and lack of market access have constrained growth.
“This is obviously a big blow but we will get through this as a community,” Warkentin said, adding that it is great to see Finning making concerted efforts to retain and relocate as many employees as possible.
Warkentin said the chamber is confident in the ability of the regional economy to absorb the highly skilled Finning workers before long.
On a positive note, he noted that Precision Drilling is rehiring 1,000 people and Calfrac is hosting a big job fair today from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Quality Inn.