A nearly $2.7-million investment in a heating and cooling equipment manufacturing company could create 20 new jobs and help keep 73 other jobs.

Direct Coil Inc. on Taylor-Kidd Boulevard is investing more that $2.4 million to expand its manufacturing line.

The Ontario government's Eastern Ontario Development Fund is contributing another $268,000.

The work is to be completed by 2020.

"Before, if we were negotiating and successful at getting a big order, I would go, 'Yes, we got it,'" said company president and chief executive officer Pat Occhicone. "Now when I get one, and we got one last week, my biggest worry is we have to deliver this."

Among the equipment that is to be added to the factory are three 100-ton thin presses, flex bending machines and straight tube machines, Occhicone said.

About 70 per cent of the company's products are destined for the United States, including equipment directly shipped south of the border and products sold to other Canadian manufacturers and incorporated into other products for export, he added.

Occhicone said continued growth would be part of the company's business strategy, and said doubling or tripling in size is not out of the question.

"Whatever we want to do, if we want to do it, we're going to do it," he said.

Treasury Board president Liz Sandals, who toured the factory before announcing the government's 10 per cent contribution to the investment, said Direct Coil was an example of an Ontario company competing on the international market.

"We don't even want to compete in Ontario on the basis of the low-cost wage. That's something Mexico does, or maybe some of the southern U.S. states," she said. "That's not where we compete. We compete on better products, better innovation, more flexibility, and to do that you need better equipment."

Direct Coil received an EODF grant of more than $281,000 to help it add two coil lines between 2011 and 2014.

In total, the Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario development funds have handed out about $1.73 billion to companies since 2014, which is credited with creating or retaining more than 36,500 jobs.


Story & photo by Elliot Ferguson, The Kingston Whig Standard, February 3, 2017