Lockheed Martin unveils new Kanata facility

Tom Pechloff
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More than 200 people were on hand Thursday night for the official opening of Lockheed Martin Canada’s new missions systems and training division headquarters in Kanata.

The 109,000-square-foot facility on Palladium Drive gives the company the chance to not only expand but consolidate all its facilities. Lockheed Martin had been located on Solandt Road since 1994 and also operated two off-site warehouses for the last six years.

“We were ready for expansion,” MST vice-president and general manager Rosemary Chapdelaine told OBJ during a tour earlier in the day. She said the company jumped at the opportunity to relocate once Smart Technologies closed its space at the property last year.

The tour started in the cafeteria on the ground floor, on the way to the manufacturing area where the company is currently working on the Halifax Class Modernization project, a $1.4-billion contract the company won in 2008 to upgrade 12 Royal Canadian Navy frigates.

The MST division has facilities in Montreal and Dartmouth, which work together as an “integrated virtual team,” Ms. Chapdelaine said.

“The systems you see here that we’re building and testing … will be taken to Dartmouth and they’ll integrate the hardware and make sure they all run before they put them on the ships,” she said.

Lockheed Martin is working with Irving Shipbuilding on the east coast and Seaspan Marine Corporation on the west coast to complete the project.

The first four ships attained fleet readiness in November, a major milestone for the company, according to Ms. Chapdelaine.

“It really gave us the opportunity for some international pursuits,” she said, pointing to diagrams of designs for two of New Zealand’s ANZAC frigates.

“We actually won a highly competitive international bid (for the New Zealand contract) and we beat out the incumbent, so we’re really excited about that.”

Upgrading the two New Zealand ships will begin once the Canadian project is more or less complete, she said.

The contract marks the first export of a combat management system originally designed and developed in Canada, according to Lockheed Martin, and the first time a foreign navy will send ships to Canada for a full-size modernization.

While this work continues, the MST division will continue to support a number of other projects for the Canadian navy and air force.

The main floor is also home to what Ms. Chapdelaine calls the purpose-built proposal area, a series of larger areas with lower dividers to create a more open space. It’s also where the engineering and tech-ops division work.

The area also includes a graffiti wall. Ms. Chapdelaine said the engineering and tech-ops staff gave input before a group of Montreal-based arts students came up with their creation – all part of fostering an environment attractive to a younger generation of workers.

The on-site gym helps too, said Ms. Chapdelaine, as do the 20 boardroom breakout rooms in various configurations.

“We have a lot of congregation space that is conducive to not being stuck in a cubicle,” she said.

While all that is nice, Ms. Chapdelaine said it’s the diversity of the staff that is really attractive. The company employs a wide range of workers, from recent grads to 30-year veterans who were part of the original Canadian Patrol Frigate program. Retired military personnel provide practical experience.

“When we put them in the room for brainstorming session ... we learn so much from each other. I think that kind of environment and energy and the future for innovation attracts the students. One of the biggest attractions is word of mouth,” she said.

Lockheed Martin is out in schools too, sponsoring robotics teams from All Saints High School and Glebe Collegiate. Students from both schools were at the open house for a demonstration of their work.

The company also does outreach in elementary schools to show Grade 5 and 6 students that science is more than just math and numbers.

The new office is home to 160 workers and is currently operating at 85 per cent capacity, Ms. Chapdelaine said. The lease also allows for expansion, which could accommodate up to 350 people.

“We are growing,” Ms. Chapdelaine said, adding her division will likely hire about 80 additional staff this year, many of them in Kanata.

“It depends on the programs that are coming down the pipeline,” she said.

Organizations: Lockheed Martin, MST division, Smart Technologies Royal Canadian Navy Irving Shipbuilding Seaspan Marine Canadian Patrol Frigate All Saints High School

Geographic location: Kanata, Dartmouth, New Zealand Solandt Road Montreal Canada

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