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All in the family: Rector Machine Works celebrates 90 years

'My dad Herv always believed that the business was a vehicle for his family to get through life, and also to put food on the table for as many people as he could employ'

Sault Ste. Marie’s Rector Machine Works is marking its 90th year in business.

The locally owned and operated metal fabrication shop, located on Sackville Road, manufactures and repairs components for the steel, forestry, power generation, mining and pulp and paper industries.

It also makes drive shafts for everything from ATVs to larger drive shafts that turn equipment in mills and factories and is also involved in hydraulics manufacturing and industrial contracting.

It has recently diversified into aluminum fabrication, aluminum being a favourite with industry leaders as it is lightweight and wear-resistant.

Currently operated by brothers Dave and Mark Rector, the company's ownership has not only created jobs for family members but also for many other Saultites over the years.

“My dad Herv always believed that the business was a vehicle for his family to get through life, and also to provide a living and put food on the table for as many people as he could employ," Dave Rector told SooToday. "He always believed that this was our way of giving back to the community: by providing jobs for families, and not just jobs, but careers for people in the skilled trades."

The company employs welders, machinists, hydraulic technicians, millwrights and administrative staff.

Rector Machine Works currently has 38 full time workers and 12 to 15 millwrights on an as needed basis, has apprentices in its shop and also provides co-op placements for local high school students.

Apart from providing others with a way to make a living, Rector Machine Works has contributed to worthwhile community causes throughout the decades with the Algoma Residential Community Hospice being near and dear to the family’s heart.

“Mom and dad always believed ARCH was very much needed in Sault Ste. Marie,” Dave said.

Hervey Rector Jr., Dave and Mark’s father, passed away at ARCH in 2018, their mother Sandi in 2019.

Rector Machine Works takes part in the annual Hospice Golf Classic and has contributed more than $5,000 per year to ARCH.

The company provides gift cards to the hospice’s chef to buy groceries in order to prepare meals for ARCH residents’ family members while they spend time with their loved ones.

“It was very impactful for our family. You can volunteer and donate to the cause but when you’re actually able to use something like ARCH you understand the full impact of where your dollars are going. It’s one of the charities that we make donations to on a regular basis," Dave said.

Rector Machine Works also sponsors race car drivers, supports activities such as soccer and dance for its employees’ children and works with the Soo Greyhounds.

“The Greyhounds are such a great part of the community,” Dave said.  

Rector Machine Works sponsors the warmup jerseys the Greyhounds wear and at the end of each hockey season auctions the jerseys off, with all proceeds going to ARCH.

As a member of the Sault’s business community, Dave said he appreciates the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to keep local business people in touch with each other during COVID through Zoom calls.  

“COVID was really hard on everybody and there was a lot of fear,” Dave said.

“Dealing with different businesses and seeing how they were struggling, we asked if there was anything we could do to help. If anything, COVID probably made the Sault a stronger place in a business sense through networking. It brought the community together in a more firm way.”

Rector Machine Works stayed open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but Dave said he missed meeting with clients face to face. 

The company does business with clients locally, across Ontario and Canada and has also exported into the U.S.

It was launched by Hervey Rector Sr. and his wife Loretta as a machine shop business in Espanola in the 1930s.

The couple relocated to Sault Ste. Marie in 1943, operating out of their home on Charles Street and later relocating to Wellington Street West in 1952.

When Herv Sr. passed away in 1967, son Herv Jr. and wife Sandi took over the business and continued to oversee activities in mentor roles at the current Rector Machine Works site at 190 Sackville Rd.

Rooted in Sault Ste. Marie, Dave said he and his family wouldn’t want to live and work anywhere else.

While in high school he read Morley Torgov’s A Good Place to Come From, a book that draws on the author’s memories of growing up in Sault Ste. Marie.

“The title of that book is still relevant today,” Dave said.

“The Sault has always been a fantastic place to come from. I went to school down in Toronto and I wanted to come back to the Sault. It’s a different pace and people are passionate about our community. We have good people.”

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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