Supreme Steel Winnipeg, a division of the Alberta-based Supreme Group of Companies, is closing its Jarvis Avenue plant next month after 50 years in the local market.
The Winnipeg steel-fabrication facility has 50 employees. Company president Kevin Guile said the company will do "all we can to assist them with the transition."
Supreme is one of the largest privately owned steel-construction company in Canada with six locations. In addition to the Winnipeg shop, which Supreme acquired in 2012, it also has two steel facilities in Edmonton and one in Saskatoon, Vancouver and Portland, Ore.
The company also said it will close the Vancouver plant in September 2020.
The company blamed ongoing tariff uncertainty and a prolonged economic downturn that has reduced major capital investments in Canada’s energy and industrial sectors.
In an interview, Guile said, "I have heard of competitors (in Alberta) who have gone into receivership. That’s not where Supreme is at, but we have taken the difficult measure to adjust to what is available in the market. There is an overcapacity of steel fabrication and not enough projects to build."
In addition to the closure of the Winnipeg plant and planned closure in Vancouver, the company is realigning its management team and reducing the workforce across all its locations.
"Supreme has taken unprecedented steps to respond to current market conditions," Guile said. "We did not make these decisions lightly. We recognize the impact that plant closures and layoffs have on our people."
Ron Hambley, president of the Winnipeg Construction Association, said he was not aware of challenges at Supreme, but other steel companies are on his radar.
"The industry is not having a banner year," he said. "Most of our members are not complaining too loudly yet, but some of the sectors I know are hurting and this is one of them."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
Updated on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 6:30 AM CDT: Adds photo