They came to see if Sheffield and Alberta could establish trade links – and left impressed.
A four-strong delegation of Canadians enjoyed a week- long trip to the city which included tours of some of its best companies, dinners with manufacturing bosses and a trip to the Global Manufacturing Festival.
They visited Optima, Tinsley Bridge, Baldwin & Francis, Geo. Robson, Abbey Forged Products and AESSEAL.
They also met bosses from Torres Pumps, MTL Group and Footprint Tools at a dinner thrown in their honour.
Garett Cupples is president of oilfield manufacturing company GenTex and chair of the Canadian SME export forum. Darrell Greenman is CEO of Vibe Drive, a vibration technology and pile driving company and AGES an environmental remediation firm.
Both are based in Red Deer, Alberta – home of the world’s second largest petroleum reserves after Saudi Arabia where huge growth is predicted.
Garett Cupples said: “I was impressed by how many of these facilities were so well run and were spotless – yet some of the businesses are older than Canada.
“I had a completely different mental picture. I came out of AESSEAL impressed by the way they are organised and the way they are structured.
“At Abbey they were open and forthright about failures and successes – there is too much ego in some other places I’ve been.
“We bring stuff in from China and Mexico but I was very interested to see the forgings and castings in Sheffield – this is where exports started.
“I have had some issues with products from other countries. I’ll get home and then may look at an order for forgings.
“There’s also the lovely architecture and people, we’ve been treated very well. There’s a lot of goodwill here and down-to-earth people.”
The trip was organised in Sheffield by HSBC, accountants BDO and Creative Sheffield.
It was organised in Canada by Matt Cornall, Sheffield Hallam University alumni and now working for Access Prosperity: Central Alberta – the state’s economic development organisation – and Cameron Branston based at the Canadian High Commission in London.
Ken Torres said he had placed an order for a Gentex pump and he was making a prototype cooler unit for the tanks they build.
He said: “It may be small at this stage, but credit to those who made this happen, it happened because it was focused.”