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In Pictures: A machine shop with a big decision to make

Williams and White is evaluating which of its three divisions to sink cash into

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Justin Williams is chief executive officer of Williams and White Machine Inc. of Burnaby, B.C., a company founded by his grandfather in 1957. The company has three divisions. The biggest is a manufacturing shop that offers computer numerical control (CNC) machining, fabrication and welding. The manufacturing equipment branch builds machinery for clients such as sawmills. Automation, the smallest and newest division, includes an industrial robotics venture called Remtech Systems.

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Mr. Williams, who is an electrical engineer by training, demonstrates the use of a robotic welding cell at the Williams and White machine shop. Business is good, he says, but the company can’t decide which of its three parts is the most deserving of monetary investment.

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Rudy Morzanowski, right, production foreman at Williams and White, does a spot part inspection. The manufacturing shop accounts for much of the company’s revenue, but Mr. Williams notes that each piece of big machinery costs about $1-million. ‘The machine shop probably has a limited amount of growth that it can have, just because it’s such a capital-intensive business.’

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An employee welds frames for tool grinding machines at Williams and White.

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Another employee sands a part intended for the forestry industry.

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Design engineer Sirine Maalej works on the plans for an industrial machine. Research and development is the main expense in the equipment division at Williams and White, which spent several hundred thousand dollars on a recent R&D project. ‘We’re very bullish on it,’ says Mr. Williams.

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An employee keeps an eye on parts as he makes his way through the surface grinder at Williams and White. Of investing in the company, CEO Mr. Williams says, ‘It’s easy to say, “Oh, put it where it’s making the most amount of money.” But that’s not always the most forward-looking way of approaching it. Because something that makes money today might not be the best thing to invest in for tomorrow.’

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