To the Travelaire holiday trailer manufacturing plant in Red Deer for its past contributions to Central Alberta as a model employer that served its customers well with a quality product that came with a personal touch — after more than 40 years.
Sadly, this remarkable era in Red Deer’s business community officially came to an end Thursday when the current owners, Glendale International Corp., Travelaire’s parent company, held a bankruptcy auction.
Once one of Red Deer’s biggest employers, Travelaire located here in 1966 from Edmonton by founders — the Bill McCartney family. It was eventually sold in 1988 to Firan Corporation.
During the company’s formative years in Red Deer, the compassionate McCartney family built their reputation as ideal owners to work with, treating employees as people, not just another tooth in a gear on the production line.
Morale was high. In turn, the staff — happy campers, so to speak — returned the McCartney’s kindness with dedication and pride in the product they were building.
But it didn’t stop there. Customers were treated with a personal touch. Each summer, the McCartney’s hosted rallies for Travelaire owners to thank them, with 400 to 500 people gathering for barbecues, breakfasts, dances and live music. Travelaire — workers, bosses, owners — became a family affair.
In a recent interview, the McCartney’s said it was a sad occasion to see the company folding.
“You know where it’s sad is the employees,” said McCartney’s wife, Mattie. “Some of the employees have been there for 40 years, and even started in Edmonton, and those are the ones I feel sorry for.”
To the Red Deer and District SPCA that took on the challenge a few years ago of building a new facility to accommodate the growing needs of pets kicked aside by heartless citizens basking in the glories of a booming economy, then fleeing when the streets paved with gold turned to dust.
The horror stories SPCA workers witnessed have been a hard pill to swallow. Left in the wake of local hard times was a population explosion of abandoned and abused animals.
As Advocate photographer Randy Fiedler wrote Wednesday in a touching full-page photo spread: “The Red Deer and District SPCA has built a ‘pawsitive’ future.”
Fiedler was addressing the opening of the SPCA’s new 12,300-square-foot centre at 4505 77th St. The $4.2-million dream-come-true is more than four times larger than the former run-down shelter for homeless creatures.
It has double the capacity for pets where as many as 120 cats and 30 to 35 dogs can be cared for daily — not to mention other abounded pets of various species and sizes that bunk down at the comfy quarters. Last year, at the cramped old building, about 800 animals were cared for.
This new facility features state-of-the-art caring features compliments of a major fundraising drive over the past couple of years by a determined team of animal lovers.
The SPCA led the charge. But, all in all, it was a combined Central Alberta effort that help build a caring retreat for our beloved creatures.
Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.