Profab’s phoenix may be a blessing in disguise after January’s fire loss

Chemianus logging-trailer manufacturing firm stages grand re-opening on new site at 9366 Smiley Road

Jason LeRoy and Profab are back in business after a devastating fire early this year

Jason LeRoy and Profab are back in business after a devastating fire early this year

Jason LeRoy toasted the grand reopening of his Chemainus log-trailer manufacturing plant Friday after fire destroyed his his original operation in January.

Sipping a cold beer, LeRoy and his staff greeted friends, customers and suppliers at 9366 Smiley Road where LeRoy figured his firm has actually boosted its manufacturing capacity — in square footage that increased fourfold — after the early-morning blaze at 3128 Hope Place.

“We’ll definitely be able to increase capacity,” said LeRoy, whose company makes trailers for timber rigs from across B.C.

Profab’s staff roster has risen to 23 from the previous 17 when it ran at its former leased shop.

LeRoy bought a bigger site in May, and continued working during insurance negotiations — concerning the value of lost tools and other gear, plus trailer in progress, and other Profab property — and construction of the new operation.

Veteran staffer Janice Gowanlock survived the whole ordeal, and looked on the sunny side of Profab’s phoenix.

“It may have been a blessing in disguise,” she said, echoing LeRoy’s relief no one was injured in the blaze fought by crews from Chemainus, Crofton, and Ladysmith fire halls.

“After the investigation, it was ’cause unknown’,” LeRoy said. “They basically figure it was a short in the electrical under the floor of the mezzanine.”

But keeping customers happy and staff working was described by LeRoy as a big juggling act in the fire’s aftermath.

“Just days after, we had an office set up in my house.

“The (daily) logistics were pretty tough to deal with among our supervisors,” he said.

“Basically, we had a lot of great neighbours that lent us tools and made some space in their shops.

“By the next week, we were working out of three different places in the (Chemainus) industrial park.”

Meanwhile, Gowanlock was glad Profab’s basically back to normal after eight months of post-fire turmoil.

“We’ll let you know in a year,” she said.