The recent purchase of the Esquimalt Drydock Company by the Ralmax Group of Companies, owner of Point Hope Maritime, has a Sooke connection.
And the business deal will create a synergy that Ralmax owner Ian Maxwell says will benefit the entire region.
“We were getting close to getting the regulatory approvals we need to make improvements at Point Hope Maritime. That will allow us to work on bigger vessels there, so I imagine there’ll be some knowledge transfer between the two shipyards,” said Maxwell, adding once those approvals are done, the Point Hope construction work will begin with a completion date of about 2021.
“For the people at Esquimalt Drydock, it’s just a transfer of operating assets. Just a different person signing the paycheques.”
Those paychecks will be a little larger now since the Esquimalt workers will be joining their Point Hope counterparts in the International Union of Operating Engineers, a move that will net them up to $10 per hour more for their work.
Maxwell’s love of the Victoria waterfront is at the heart of his shipyard ventures.
“I got passionate about the upper harbour after I got to see how important the lands are in that area. We’ve done work with the Veins of Life Watershed Society and helped John Roe out with a project he’s been doing. We were able to add a little muscle to the effort,” said Maxwell.
The Ralmax Group encompasses 10 different companies in the construction and marine sectors, but Maxwell’s story is making the Victoria-based entrepreneur even more fascinating than his latest purchase and merger.
Maxwell started out as a truck driver and now jokes that his business success is based upon his affinity for getting a paycheque.
And, although much has been made of his roots in Sooke where his brother-in-law was Ed Macgregor served as the first mayor and where he still has relatives, Maxwell has never operated his businesses out of the municipality.
“My connections out there were very strong for a long while, but I was born in Victoria and have lived on the Island my whole life. I had to make a living so I first bought my own truck, and then got into excavating and then got interested in recycling, and demolition,” Maxwell said.
“The marine service business started after that, but I’ve always been concerned about the environment and how my businesses can help in that regard.”
These days Maxwell lives on a seven hectare parcel of land in Saanich where he keeps cows, goats and horses.
“I’m getting to the age where I realize that it’s a good idea to have some younger people re-visit the ideas that helped build the business. I tend to keep away from the office some these days,” Maxwell said.
And as for being a self-made man, Maxwell is typically self-deprecating.
“Self-made man? That would be ignoring the thousands of people over the years who helped me and made what we’ve done possible. Self -made? It’s a long, long way from that.”