BDC Business Person of the Year Award
Seeing an old building take on new life brings Ron Meech a lot of satisfaction.
As president of Meech Holdings Ltd., he’s overseen changes to several buildings in Truro.
“We’ve done a lot of renovations,” he said. “Willow Lofts is one of my favourites. We won a Nova Scotia Heritage Trust Award for it. It’s also special because my wife and my children attended school there.”
Meech was also in charge of renovating the former St. Mary’s School, on King St., and the former Maple Leaf School, in Salmon River, into residential buildings. One of his most recent projects was converting the former Alliance Church, on Philip St., into apartments.
“I’m really interested in the construction side and the creative aspects,” he said. “When you repurpose you can’t just do it to plan. You run into unexpected things and have to make changes as you go. It’s nice to take buildings in residential neighbourhoods and come up with something that fits in. People appreciate a nice old building.”
He finds the town very supportive of development and ready to make things work.
Meech grew up in Truro and at one time he was involved in both retail properties and apartments but decided he should focus on apartments. He works in partnership with his wife, Janet, and his son, Jonathan, also works in the business. His daughter is in Toronto, where she works in marketing.
Meech Holdings Ltd. has office space in Willow Lofts and manages more than 250 residential units from there.
“I enjoy what I’m doing,” Meech added. “It’s nice to accomplish something.”
The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce recognized his accomplishments by selecting him as the BDC Business Person of the Year. The award was presented during a gala on April 25.
Community Credit Union Business Excellence Award
Hiring new immigrants, giving back to the community and job creation are all in a day’s work for Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems.
But it was enough for the Debert-based factory to score a Community Credit Union Business Excellence Award, presented to Kohltech at the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce’s gala awards night on April 25.
“It certainly makes us feel excited and honoured,” said Kohltech’s president Carl Ballard. “We appreciate the recognition and the entire team has worked very hard to serve our customers. That has helped fuel our growth.”
Kohltech’s latest honour comes as the factory has undertaken a 30,000 square-foot expansion of its manufacturing area in Debert.
One reason for the expansion is that all of Kohltech’s products must meet provincial energy efficiency requirements and triple-glazed glass, which reduces heat loss from buildings, is now being produced.
Such products require an extra set of seals, which will be produced at the expanded Debert factory.
“Governments are mandating improved levels of energy efficiency and they’re targeting windows and doors as primary sources of heat loss,” said Ballard.
An expanded factory will also allow Kohltech to hire more employees, including both new immigrants and people living in rural areas who often lack job opportunities, as well as freshly-graduated high school and college students. The workforce already includes Syrians who arrived as refugees.
Currently, the plant has 300-400 employees in Debert, with another 100 in Edmonton and 50 in North Bay, Ontario, where it runs satellite plants.
As the Debert plant expands, Ballard said the 240 soon-to-be laid off employees from Tarkett North America’s carpet factory in Truro could apply for new jobs at Kohltech.
“It’s very unfortunate what’s happened there and it’s very disappointing for the community,” said Ballard.
Should Tarkett’s former carpet-makers join Kohltech, they can benefit from a work culture focused on nurturing and developing staff. Last year, the Debert plant piloted a subsidized lunch program.
Both new and current employees will help produce a wide range of windows and doors.
Kohltech also manufactures windows with coloured frames, with black proving increasingly popular over the last few years.
People wishing to buy window or door products manufactured by Kohltech can do so via its dealers including Home Hardware, Rona, Timber Mart and Castle, both in Nova Scotia and across Canada.
“Nova Scotia is still our largest market,” said Ballard.
Such initiatives, together with a strong focus on customer service, helped Kohltech win a ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ designation last year.
In the wider community, Kohltech has sponsored the new climbing wall at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre and has supported the Colchester-East Hants Library, among other projects.
“We hope to continue to grow and we’ve had great support from our customers,” said Ballard.
The Community Credit Union Business Excellence Award recognizes leadership achieving demonstrated growth in sales, workforce investment, community involvement, support of the local business community, innovation and job creation.