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Hamilton Economic Development

Toshiba buys Elettra Technology, plans to rev up production

A company born from a multinational corporation’s Hamilton ashes is returning to the multinational fold with a promise of new jobs.

Hamilton-based Elettra Technology Inc., maker of electric motors for everything from tunnel boring machines to nuclear reactors, has sold its assets to Toshiba International Corporation.

In a twist of foreign acquisition stories, the Houston-based buyer has promised not only to keep Elettra’s 40 jobs in Hamilton, but to quickly double employment.

“They’re hiring every single employee we have and planning a significant expansion,” said Joe Aiello, one of Elettra’s co-founders. “The plan is that very quickly they will double the staff.

“One of the things that made us attractive to Toshiba was the people we have, people who can execute these kinds of projects,” he added.

Elettra was created in 1996 by Aiello and partner Carlo Di Pietro. They’d both been executives with Westinghouse when it made industrial motors in Hamilton. Aiello was plant manager and Di Pietro was manager of engineering. When the division was shut down by Westinghouse, they saw a chance to build a new business for themselves.

“We knew there was a niche for projects like this, for a company that could create and design one-of-a-kind machines,” he said. “We just knew that kind of custom-made business could be very successful.”

From the beginning, Aiello said, the plan was to focus on the higher end of the motor market — custom-built engines for devices such as nuclear reactors, the monster machines that bore tunnels through mountains and under rivers, and for military uses where fire and explosion-proof features are important.

Those are motors that require highly skilled labour to produce, while the building of simpler devices was a business they decided was best left to countries where cheap labour can push out motors on an assembly line.

“With stock motors, we couldn’t even buy the materials and be competitive,” he said. “You can make a good living with the kind of projects we do.”

After almost 20 years, however, Aiello said it’s time for a new owner to take the reins. He’s 63, Di Pietro is past 70 and both are ready for some leisure years.

“The time comes when age really starts to take a toll on you,” he said. “A company is like your child, eventually you have to let it go.

“We both still feel great, but we feel we’ve done all we can and it’s time for someone with new energy to take the company to the next level.”

John Rama, Texas-based manager of Toshiba’s motor business unit, said the acquisition will expand his company’s product line, allowing it to compete in new fields.

“We think this will be an excellent extension of our motor business,” he said. “We are definitely planning to expand there.”

One of Toshiba’s first moves will be to relocate Elettra’s manufacturing operations to a newly renovated plant on Jones Road in Stoney Creek.

“As we grow this business we are going to need more room,” he said. “We’re excited about what we can grow this business into.”

Integrating the two companies is expected to take several months. Terms of deal were not disclosed.

“This is great economic news for Hamilton,” said Mayor Bob Bratina in a news release. “It shows our local firms are producing world-class work and … the world is taking notice. I’m also encouraged that this acquisition retains good paying jobs in our community, while laying the foundation for new opportunities for growth.”

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator.

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