May 20, 2011 13:00 ET

First Cohort Graduates From Tradeworks RONA Fabrication Shop

Unique carpentry training and work experience program helps them overcome barriers to employment

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 20, 2011) - RONA inc. (TSX:RON)(TSX:RON.PR.A), the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, renovation and gardening products, is celebrating the graduation of the first cohort of trainees from its Tradeworks RONA Fabrication (Fab) Shop, a skills training and work experience centre for people with barriers to employment. A total of 12 of the 17 original recruits, who are primarily residents of Vancouver's inner-city neighbourhoods, graduated today from the program launched on November 22, 2010. The special feature of the Tradeworks RONA Fab Shop is that it integrates a training and employment program that provides carpentry skills instruction and supported job experience to at-risk individuals who have yet to successfully enter the workforce.

Launched in 2007, the RONA 2010 Fabrication Shop operated for almost three years in advance of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, producing over 11,000 items needed for the events and venues. During the period leading up to the Games, more than 60 trainees graduated from the RONA Fab Shop. The employment program was so successful that Tradeworks Training Society, a non-profit organization providing unemployed Downtown Eastside Vancouver residents with job and life skills training, agreed to take over the facility and project as a "legacy" of the Games. It now operates as a unique social enterprise sustained through a blend of its sales revenues, fundraising and government contributions, in addition to the RONA Foundation and RONA's financial support as part of a five-year agreement.

The original RONA Fab Shop was one of the 2010 Winter Games' most prominent social inclusion programs. The concept remains the same with the Tradeworks RONA Fab Shop. Courses are taught by a Red Seal-certified carpentry instructor and three supervising carpenters. The shop is certified by the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the agency that oversees British Columbia's industry training and apprenticeship system. This allows trainees to register with the ITA so that the hours they contribute to the Fab Shop will count towards their first-level carpentry qualification requirements. Graduates will be assisted in placement into apprenticeship positions with the long-term goal of working as Red Seal-certified carpenters.

This first cohort of trainees from the Tradeworks RONA Fab Shop completed a 26-week program. Those choosing to pursue their training will be taking the first-year apprenticeship exam before the end of next month. Wood projects built by the trainees during the program include cedar products for BC Hydro and its recreation sites, such as picnic tables, toilet huts, a motorboat shed and an outdoor lumber storage rack. For BC Housing, the trainees also built picnic tables, cedar planters, cedar benches, decks, bookshelves, desks and a beautiful dining room table out of pine beetle wood.

"The Tradeworks RONA Fab Shop carpentry program has really changed my life," said graduate Yul Hawkridge. "Not only do I have work related skills that I didn't have before, but it has shown me that I have a potential that I didn't know I had. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity and I shall do my best to live up to their expectations".

"We are proud to pursue this very positive experience and to secure the Fab Shop's legacy in providing tools for life that will have a positive impact on socially and economically disadvantaged groups," said Luc Rodier, Vice President, Retail – Western Canada at RONA. "The Tradeworks RONA Fab Shop will help extend the positive effects of the Games into the community, a project that aligns with RONA's strong values and commitment to sustainable development. In the next few years, we hope to further develop the concept and create a Fab Shop network from coast to coast."

Sustainable development part of RONA's history

At RONA, sustainable development means growth for our communities and our employees, as well as respect for the environment. One of our most significant initiatives is the RONA Foundation who supports a wide variety of local organizations in order to help young people achieve their full potential and become self-reliant through support for education and training.

Where the environment is concerned, adopting responsible practices in this field has always been a priority at RONA. Our employees are constantly thinking about new, innovative ways to save energy, preserve the environment and promote responsible consumption. In November 2010, RONA unveiled its new Responsible Procurement Policy (RPP). The RPP encompasses the specific procurement policies already introduced by the company for certain products, including the Wood Products Procurement Policy and the policy ending sales of synthetic cosmetic pesticides. Under the new policy, RONA's goal is to ensure that products sold by the Corporation have the least possible impact on the environment, are the result of the labour of workers whose rights are respected and contribute to social and economic development locally and regionally in Canada.

About the RONA Foundation

Created in 1998, the RONA Foundation gives precedence to requests for assistance to finance initiatives that help young people achieve their full potential and access the job market. The Foundation supports anti-drop-out programs, training programs, job internships and employment programs for underprivileged youth. It also provides funding for scholarships that help disadvantaged youth finish their studies and learn a trade. Since its creation, the RONA Foundation has distributed more than $2.9 million to different youth-oriented charities that share the Foundation's mission. Thanks to the generosity of its many donors, the RONA Foundation has grown steadily, reviving hope for hundreds of young people across the country. To learn more, please go to

About RONA

RONA is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. RONA operates a network of more than 950 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats. With close to 30,000 employees working under its family of banners in every region of Canada and more than 17 million square feet of retail space, the RONA store network generates over $6 billion in annual retail sales. For more information, please visit

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