Canada’s Contribution to Renewable Energy Just Got a Boost from LM Wind Power in Quebec
July 17, 2017
GE Reports Canada
LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy Business, is more than doubling its workforce in the Gaspé Peninsula with a dramatic enlargement of its rotor-blade manufacturing plant.
Built to meet surging demand for wind energy in the US, the new facility increases the plant size by 40%, raises production output dramatically, and brings 265 tech-sector jobs to the region.
Opening on time and on budget just six months after it was first announced, the plant expansion allows LM Wind Power to fulfill a key American export contract. Train convoys of rotor blades leave twice a week from the nearby town of New Richmond, bound for Texas.
The Gaspé plant is a critical part of LM Wind Power’s global enterprise to bring wind power to the world. One out of every five turbines on the planet are equipped with LM Wind Power blades, which range from 40 meters to the world’s longest at 88 meters. The company has produced more than 195,000 blades since 1978, corresponding to approximately 77 GW installed wind power capacity, which each year effectively saves approximately 147 million tons of CO2.
The province of Quebec is supporting the Gaspé plant expansion with $4.3 million to build the new facility, as well as $1.3 million to train workers. The new plant is an opportunity for the province to showcase its manufacturing and engineering expertise to the world. “Our government encourages the realization of projects like LM Wind Power Canada that allow Quebec to promote and reinforce the know-how of its key manufacturing sectors within our economy, such as the wind energy sector,” Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation for Quebec explains. “Thanks to the expansion of this wind turbine blade manufacturing plant located in Gaspé the table is set to ensure the growth of a competitive wind power industry, most notably in the US market.”
Anglade attended the opening, along with Marc de Jong, CEO of LM Wind Power. Attendees were able to inspect an array of LM’s impressive wind blades up close, and were also greeted by a hundred workers from the plant.
For Alexandre Boulay, the Plant Director at the Gaspé factory, those employees are the most important factor in this equation. “At a manufacturing plant, your main resource isn’t equipment or buildings, but people,” explains Boulay. “It’s a people business.”
Recruiting for the future
Since the plan for the expansion was put together last July, the 35-year-old plant leader faced the daunting challenge of recruiting and training so many new workers on an aggressive schedule.
To achieve the double objective of maximizing output while also offering attractive employment to people in the region, LM devised a new work schedule that would support increased production and also fit with well with the local culture, which prizes work-life balance. “As a result, we were able to attract people from a much wider area than previously,” says Boulay.
The rapid growth would have been impossible if the factory didn’t already have a motivated and dedicated workforce. “At LM Wind Power, the conditions, schedule, and salary are all good, and our retention is high,” Boulay explains. “That’s the key to our success: we have a very solid core of people, and we’re building and growing around that core.”
LM Wind Power was purchased by GE in October of 2016, and one area where Boulay has seen a lot of positive impact is in HR. For example, when LM hires a new employee, they are immediately introduced to GE’s core values. “Right away when people come in, they start receiving training on the importance of integrity,” says Boulay. “That helps them make good decisions that are aligned to the best outcomes.”
Joining GE has been a natural fit for LM Wind Power. “Being purchased by your main customer is seen very positively in the plant,” says Boulay. With this new expansion, GE and LM are taking a major step to advancing the growth of renewable energy into the future.