Chinese fire manufacturer to target U.S. market from new $30m plant in Quebec

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08/20/2014

Fire alarm manufacturer Maple Armor is investing nearly $30 million to build a new plant near Montreal, from which it intends to target the U.S. market, the company announced this week.

The full name of the company is Solutions D'alarme Incendie Maple Armor Canada and it’s a division of Beida Jade Bird Universal Fire Alarm, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese company Beida Jade Bird Group. Maple Armor’s plan to build the plant in Saint-Bruno, on Montreal's South Shore, is making big news in Canada because it’s one of the first Chinese companies to invest in manufacturing there, a company news release says.

A Quebec government agency, Investissement Québec, is contributing $4 million to the cost of the $30 million plant—with a $1 million grant and $3 million in interest-free loans, according to The Gazette, a Montreal newspaper.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the plant took place yesterday, Aug. 19, and the plant, which will have 70 employees, is expected to open by the end of 2015, the company said.

According to The Gazette, a Montreal newspaper, the plant “will build components for fire alarms, such as control panels, sprinklers and heat and smoke sensors.”

Interestingly, about 70 percent of its products initially will be shipped to China because of a strong demand for certified alarm products there, according to the company and news reports.

The Gazette said a major reason the company chose to build in Canada is that it “has a certification process that meets stringent international norms for the alarm systems.”

The plant would cost more to build in China because the process for certifying fire alarm systems is complex there, the newspaper said. Also, The Gazette said, by building in Canada, the Chinese company is eligible for NAFTA.

But the company made clear it plans to expand into the U.S. market. The Gazette reported that Maple Armor simply found it easier to build in Canada. Here’s what the newspaper had to say:

“Weimin Cai, president of Beida Jade Bird Universal Fire Alarm Devices, told The Gazette that the company is indeed targeting the U.S. market, but that Quebec offered more of a sure investment perspective.

“We think we can meet the U.S. demand from here,” Cai said. “China’s relations with Canada are very good, but sometimes China-U.S. relations suffer.

“So I think this is a better investment climate.”

In the company’s news release, Zhendong Xu, chairman of Beida Jade Bird Group, said, “We wanted to set up operations in North America to develop a new product line that meets the highest industry standards. Considering the ease of access to new markets and the presence of a highly qualified labor force, we are pleased to pursue our growth here in Quebec.”

I’ll be reporting more on this story. Stay posted.