Veteran Canadian manufacturer enters a new age

Acquisition of Vancouver’s Pressed Metal Products a sign of changing sector

Pressed Metal Products co-owner Greg Trammell says his company’s acquisition by Montreal-based Rideau Recognition Solutions Inc. will help keep jobs in the country | Tyler Nyquvest

Part of the uniform of Vancouver police officers is a badge that signifies authority and achievement.

Greg Trammell, former co-owner of Pressed Metal Products (PMP), feels a sense of pride when he turns on the TV and sees that badge – one of his company’s products – shining on the screen.

PMP is a Canadian manufacturing company that has been operating for 88 years in what is known as Vancouver’s Railtown district. It has provided some of Canada’s most important insignia, jewelry, awards and medal products for nearly a century.

Recently, after the Trammell family decided it was ready to exit the business, it agreed to sell PMP to Montreal-based Rideau Recognition Solutions Inc.

“Being a Canadian craftsman has been really the cornerstone of what we have established,” Trammell said. “When we made the decision to look at divesting of our business property interests, Rideau became the natural go-to.”

Rideau Recognition used to provide essentially the same service as PMP, operating solely as a crafter of insignia and manufactured products. The company was the first Canadian manufacturer of the Order of Canada medal, the highest civilian decoration in the country.

But the firm took a new direction by embracing internet technology in the ’90s, and, after acquiring Recognition Management Institute, it made a major investment in big data, pioneering the data-driven approach to employee recognition.

“PMP made great quality products for their clients,” said Rideau Recognition CEO Peter Hart. “Some of these products were used as awards in programs that their clients were managing themselves.”

Employee recognition programs have become more commonplace in today’s digitized world.

Many companies manage their own employee recognition programs, then use products like those produced by PMP as awards, but Rideau has consolidated the process.

“Rideau offers these clients the opportunity of using our state-of-the-art software to manage [recognition] programs – for instance, municipalities who order years of service pins and distribute these to employees,” Hart said. “This is a manual process. Our software automatically tracks who is eligible for a pin, arranges to ship it to the manager and provides the manager with how to make effective presentations and other best-practice elements.”

But a pin is just one element of a diverse array of rewards given in today’s world.

In addition to physical medals and awards, Rideau software tracks employee performance to offer incentives like social recognition, sales and service incentives and recognition points to redeem in points-based reward programs.

The employee recognition software sector has been steadily growing, and Hart already has a solid footing in the market. Rideau’s net annual revenue exceeds $50 million.Rideau employs roughly 250 at its facility in Montreal.

While most of the firm’s manufacturing will continue to happen in Eastern Canada, product development and design will take place at the company’s Vancouver location. Trammell and Hart recognize the importance of the acquisition not just for the company but for the manufacturing sector across Canada.

“Increasingly you are seeing more and more work going offshore,” Hart said. “This work takes a lot of skill, craftsmanship and [artisanship] … It is labour intensive. A lot of lower-quality items go to be manufactured offshore. Pressed Metal has always been known as a quality manufacturer, and if you wanted a quality Canadian product, that was the place to go.”

And keeping the business in the hands of Canadians proved to be the deciding factor for Trammell once he’d decided to sell the business.

“Because [Rideau] is a Canadian manufacturer,” he said, “and we know that the items will still be made in Canada and employing Canadians, that was huge for us because that is what our customers have come to expect.”