Two Canadian asbestos firms that have been rivals for decades are joining forces to help promote their product, largely due to the fierce competition from overseas and the strengthening cry in favor of banning Canadian exports of the hazardous mineral.
Spokesmen for LAB Chrysotile of Thetford Mines, Quebec and JM Inc. of Asbestos, Quebec have always fought over the same clients, but the declining use of asbestos and the strength of the Russian and Chinese markets has prompted them to combine their sales teams.
“We need to maximize our sales and minimize our costs,” said Simon Dupéré, president of LAB Chrysotile, which operates two mines in Thetford.
“The past quarrels and rivalry we’ve had with our competitor Jeffrey Mine has been put aside. We need to protect our markets and keep our mines operating,” Dupéré said.
According to an article in the Montreal Gazette, they are calling the new sales team Chrysotile Canada. Chrysotile is the term used to distinguish asbestos fibers produced by the two firms from more toxic forms banned in Canada since the early 1980s.
The combined sales team, however, doesn’t mean that the two companies are merging, owners said. But Dupéré says the rivalry between the companies has not helped either’s bottom line.
“Since I took over my firm four years ago, we have lost about 30 per cent of our sales,” he said. “We still face stiff competition from producers in four other countries, especially Russia. And our higher Canadian dollar is also a concern.”
Together, the two firms produce about 160,000 tons of asbestos annually and employ nearly 1,000 in the two towns.