CBC: Company led by U of T Engineering alumni builds electrical transformers in Vaughan that transforms refugees’ lives

Only a few weeks after arriving in Canada as a refugee, Levon Markarian (centre) found work he intends to do for the rest of his life. He says his new bosses, brothers and factory co-owners Levon Hasserjian (left) and Simon, are “like big brothers, or uncles” to me. (Courtesy of Ara Hasserjian via CBC)

June 28, 2017 – Only a year and a half after arriving in Canada, Levon Markarian feels at home on the factory floor of Rex Power Magnetics. In Syria, Markarian owned a small tool and die factory. In Toronto, he’s building electrical transformers and rebuilding his life at the Rex factory in Vaughan.

The company, with almost 300 employees, pursued an aggressive expansion plan in 2016, increasing sales by ten per cent to $60 million. The expansion was based on sound business practices, says MIE alumnus Levon Hasserjian (MechE 7T5), one of the plant co-owners with his brother, Simon (ECE), but the goal was not growth for its own sake.

Instead, it was primarily to create new jobs for the wave of refugees arriving from Syria.

For the past ten years, Rex Power Magnetics has worked with COSTI, Toronto’s biggest immigrant settlement agency, employing newcomers from around the world — from the Phillippines and Vietnam to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and now from Syria.

“I don’t know another company that’s come through at this level,” says Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI.

The most recent hires are Syrian-Armenians, privately-sponsored by Toronto’s close-knit Armenian community which has taken in thousands of refugees.

Read more at CBC News.

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