A Christina Lake businessman has announced plans to build a large aerospace maintenance and manufacturing facility in Grand Forks that could eventually bring in 20 or more jobs to the community.
In a press release on Sept. 18, the City of Grand Forks and Marksman Industries Inc. announced an agreement for Marksman to purchase 4.32 acres at the Grand Forks Municipal Airport.
Kevin Marks, president of Marksman Industries, is excited about bringing the facility to the Grand Forks airport but stresses that it is in the preliminary planning stage.
“We’re going through a due diligence period to find out the feasibility of this agreement,” Marks told the Gazette. “We’ve reached an agreement on purchasing property. Now we’re going through some engineering studies. “That’s going to take a three-month period. We’re hoping to close on a deal if everything works well early in the new year. At that point we should have some pretty concrete plans as far as what the facility is going to look like and where it’s going to be on the property.”
Phase I of construction is slated to begin in the spring with a 560+ square metre (6,000+ square feet) facility designed for the manufacture of aircraft parts and components as well as modification, maintenance and overhaul of smaller aircraft. The manufacture of commercial and custom stainless steel and aluminum products will also be a focus for this facility, said Marks.
Plans for Phase II of development include a hangar capable of servicing larger aircraft.
Marks has been maintaining aircraft for over 20 years on various types including Cessna, Boeing, Airbus, BAE, Bombardier, Convair, Air Tractor, Lockheed, Eurocopter and Sikorsky to name a few. He estimates a full-time staff of 20 once fully operational, including several skilled labour made up of highly trained aircraft maintenance engineers, trade technicians and support staff.
Marks said he chose Grand Forks because he loves the area and believes an aerospace facility could do very well here.
“It’s a beautiful area,” he said. “I’ve lived here at Christina Lake since 2007 and had property there since 2004. There are benefits from being close to the States.”
He added that aviation is a true global market and the location is not a major factor.
“Chances are if you manufacture a part it has to get on a truck for delivery at some point,” said Marks. “We believe we can make it here in Grand Forks…for some of the projects I’ve been focusing on and targeting in the last few years that I might be able to bring to Grand Forks, the airport is definitely sufficient.”
Marks said he has been in business since 2000 contracting his services out. Since 2007, he has receiving certification through Transport Canada to allow him to manufacture parts, pieces and components out of his shop at Christina Lake.
In an effort to diversify his business, Marks has taken on a partner, Mike Paul, who specializes in stainless steel custom fabrication.
“He’s going to help me along,” said Marks. “He’s going to be busy learning the aviation side to help us grow. We’re also going to expand into his market so we can create some diversification. That would be done out of the facility at the airport down the road.”