May 25th 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VICTORIAVILLE FUNERAL SUPPLIES INC. (VIC ROYAL DIVISION) INVESTS $5 MILLION TO MARKET TWO NEW LINES OF CASKETS
(Victoriaville, May 25, 2006) – Victoriaville Funeral Supplies Inc. specializing in the manufacturing of wooden caskets and ranking third in size in the North American market, will invest $5 million to integrate two additional assembly lines in a new global lay-out of its flagship manufacturing plant located in the Industrial Park in Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada.
The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of Canada Economic Development, announced a grant of $2 million dollars as a repayable contribution to the Company for the project.
Meeting the ever-changing needs of North American funeral consumers, these two new casket lines will:
Use alternative wood composite construction
Be manufactured using patented processes requiring greater
Respect the current environmental criteria of crematoriums in North
Enable the Company to compete with products originating from
Allow the Company to be less sensitive to the fluctuations of the
Canadian dollar which has reached unsurpassed heights in the past
The project, with a total investment of $5 million, does not necessitate expansion of the current production facility. Under a strategic plan of development, the project should assist the Company to try and maintain the present 550 employees in Victoriaville. The project is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2006 and includes the following steps:
Integration of two added-value casket lines in a new global lay-out
of its existing manufacturing plant without disrupting current core
Implementation of a new paint system to adequately equip the
manufacturing processes relating to the use of alternate wood
Promote and market the new products in repositioning its brands
and setting up an on-line transactional Website.
“It has been a long time since I have had the privilege of announcing such exciting news. Along with many other Canadian manufacturers, we have had our share of challenges over the past 24 months. Our growth rate had slowed down,” states Alain Dumont, President of the Company, referring to the cost of energy, raw materials, the value of the Canadian dollar, the accelerated consolidation in the funeral industry carried out in the United States and the decreasing death rate in North America.
With effective forest management ensuring sufficient availability for future generations while respecting environmental eco-systems, we truly believe hardwood is still the best material for crafting caskets. On the other hand, we are conscious that for economic, environmental or other reasons a growing number of funeral homes feel the need to use alternate products.
Our future rests on the satisfaction of our customers. To ensure it, we will continue to emphasize research and development, the training of our personnel, the integration and the rationalization of our operations in building innovative products of superior quality that reflect a high component of added value.
In 1998, after a major fire that destroyed the Vic Royal manufacturing facilities in April 1997, the company announced a major project of modernization and the relocation of the facility in Victoriaville with a total investment of $22 million.
President, Alain Dumont, also announced the successful conclusion of a five-year collective agreement with its unionized employees recently associated to the Steel Workers, local 9512. - 30 -
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Michelle Bouffard – Victoriaville Funeral Supplies inc. Tel.: 1-819-752-3388, extension 105