CAMPBELL RIVER – From feeding to the factory, CR Metal Fabricators (CRMF) is creating custom metal components for every level of Vancouver Island’s growing aquaculture industry.
CR Metal Fabricators was founded in 1963, making aluminium boxes for loggers who were bringing explosives into the bush. After decades of focussing on the paper and forestry industry, CRMF began to diversify into Vancouver Island’s growing aquaculture industry, where they create custom metal fabrications for essentially every component of the business.
President Rob Beetstra and his wife Darcy purchased CRMF in 2007, and has been running the company ever since. He has a great appreciation for the industry and everything it contributes to his community.
“Aquaculture is a huge player in the North Island economy,” says Beetstra. “You won’t find many businesses that aren’t happy that the industry is here. We all appreciate what it does for our town and our economy.”
For businesses like CRMF, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. Campbell River houses the head offices of one of Canada’s largest commercial diver training schools, the head offices of three major salmon farming companies, an aquatic research facility, and numerous other aquaculture service and supply businesses.
“When the paper and forestry industries started to slow down, our company needed to diversify,” says Beetstra. “The growth of the aquaculture industry was just what we needed in order to continue growing our business.”
CRMF has an extensive customer base, including some of the biggest players in the aquaculture industry. They are able to manufacture components for every stage the fish life cycle.
“We build components for hatcheries, for transportation – where we work with companies to modify transport trailers for hauling fish on the highway,” he says. “We build sea-site floats that house staff, warehouses for feed, and feeding systems.”
Two of CRMF’s biggest customers are aquaculture support companies that design feeding systems for the industry. Beetstra’s team manufactures hoppers, conveyor systems, feed augurs, and hoppers for these systems.
“We also manufacture and install harvesting equipment that goes on the boats,” says Beetstra. “We do the fish processing systems for the boats that transport the fish to the plants, and once the boats get to the plants, we work with the plants to create conveyor systems and fish handling systems.”
Thanks to this growing industry, CRMF is now bigger and busier than ever.
“We have 27 employees now, and our shop is running 16 hours a day. There are 27 families that are dependant on the volume that we’re doing, and a large portion of that volume is directly related to the aquaculture industry,” says Beetstra.
After over two decades of working closely with Vancouver Island aquaculture, CRMF continues to grow with the rapidly changing technologies and innovations.
“We work very closely with the aquaculture industry, and we hold it in high regard,” says Beetstra. “It’s one of the biggest fields in our customer base, and we’d be half the company we are today without them.