TRADE HEROES: Orion Plastics

Published On
March 1, 2024

The “Trade Heroes” series highlights Edmonton region companies who have ‘exportitude’ — the mindset and commitment to think globally when it comes to their business. 

If you’ve ever watched a hockey game, you’ve probably seen the work of St. Albert-based Orion Plastics. One of the company’s products is the iconic puck board that lines the walls of NHL rinks. But that’s just one of many applications for the custom extruded plastic sheet products that the company manufactures.

The company’s products shape components for automobiles and recreational vehicles as well as the marine, mining, sports, and recreation sectors, making it an integral part of the supply chain for major industries across Canada, the United States, and beyond. As it has grown, Orion Plastics has carved a niche within the heavy gauge vacuum forming industry, and that has helped it access plenty of new customers. Today, the company exports about 85% of its products to the United States, said President and CEO Stephen Moore.

The company has great customers here in Canada, but “there are bigger opportunities down there,” Moore said of doing business with America. “It’s a huge market.”

Operating out of a 62,000-square-foot facility with about 65 dedicated team members, the company maintains a continuous production cycle. Moore said boosting the capacity of its facility — such as with the addition of a fourth sheet line — was a turning point that helped the company with its export ambitions. Despite questions from some customers initially about why they’re located in Canada, Moore said Orion’s location has been more of an advantage than a disadvantage, including when it comes to shipping and accessing major transportation networks.

“We ship product throughout North America,” Moore said. “It’s almost like next-day delivery … we load up trucks and ship them out on a Friday, they deliver on a Monday.”

Another advantage of being located in the Edmonton region is access to a skilled workforce. “What we do here is highly technical,” Moore said. “So we’re very fortunate for the universities and the education system here in Alberta that a lot of talented people are coming out of, and we have access to them.”

Orion Plastics has also benefited from working with partners and leveraging all the resources that are available to companies looking to do business across the border.

“We’ve got great partners, like with our customs brokers,” Moore said. “Integrating that into your systems as far as customs, invoices, and bills of lading and all that might seem impossible to a small business, but the opportunity is incredible.”

The company has worked with Alberta Innovates, the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and Government of Alberta trade offices, to name just a few organizations that have supported its export journey.

“Harnessing those relationships, there’s great people to help you be successful and penetrate the market in the United States,” Moore said. “Don’t be so afraid to explore opportunities in the U.S., because it’s probably the easiest way for you to scale because the opportunity is just so much bigger.”

Photo: Orion Plastics operates a 24/7 manufacturing facility in St. Albert. (Supplied)

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Christobelle Boily