Over a year ago, Gemini Corporation was nearly wiped off the map along with all the jobs that were attached to it.
However, the Ponoka fabrication operation was saved from the bankruptcy pile by a central Alberta company that was determined to see what could be kept alive.
Now, exactly one year after Hive Innovations of Blackfalds won approval from the Alberta courts, the Gemini name, now called “Gemini Fabrication,” remains on the 56-acre facility which employs about 150 people.
Andy Farrow, president of Gemini Fabrication, explained that Hive and its shareholders started negotiations back in June 2018, just two months after Gemini went into receivership, in order to keep things running rather than simply purchase the equipment and see people be laid off.
“Everyone thought it would be a good fit and there were a lot of great people at the facility,” he said.
“It simply needed some support and help to supply it in order to grow while focusing on that one facet of the operation.”
The original company was a large entity that had many functions, from engineering to fabrication to contracting over the previous 35 years. However, when a restructuring bid failed to garner the support of lenders, the company was forced into receivership in April 2018.
FTI Consulting Canada Inc. was appointed as receiver and manager of all the assets.
FTI did keep the Ponoka business running while it looked for ways to sell off the assets. Fortunately, by September, a deal was approved and the past year has been deemed a success despite some ups and downs.
“At times, the facility has had upwards of 500 employees and was near the brink of being shut down,” Farrow said.
“Now, we are growing, having kept many clients while bringing on new ones. It’s been tough as once a company goes down the bankruptcy route, it doesn’t have a great name with some people including suppliers and clients.”
The difficulties within the energy sector the past year also haven’t helped, but by being able to focus on one thing — fabrication — the new Gemini is starting to thrive as the industry begins to regain some traction in the economy.
“It’s been tough and things tend to trickle down to some degree, so we’ve had our fair share of challenges,” he stated.
“Slowly, we have been getting back clients and business, so it’s been exciting to see that glimmer of hope emerging especially as the curtailment is continuing to be cutback.
“But it’s been easier since we are focusing on just one business line, allowing us to hire more people and drive the efficiencies needed for our clients, giving us the ability to do what we do well while competing with the rest of the world.”
Farrow also said the company intends to continue to be involved locally and that it is important that Gemini remain in Ponoka.