Two key businesses are celebrating major expansion projects this season.
Flanagan's Sudbury facility, in Lively, has completed a major addition, while the Kitchener s.t.o.p. Restaurant Supply put the finishing touches on construction in recent weeks.
The Sudbury project was focused on adding to freezer space, says general manager Earl Dahl. The new addition means another 6,800 sq. ft. of freezer area and 1,554 sq ft dry storage.
Says Dahl, "We estimate this will give us room to stock 1,500 more frozen product listings and 200 dry product listings. Stocking more listings on site, versus pulling nightly from Kitchener, enables our customers to have easier access and more responsive delivery particularly in tighter service windows. The increased stocked listings enables us to meet more minimum order sizes with our vendors, thereby having the goods shipped directly into Sudbury (rather than Kitchener), and giving us opportunity to build truckload allowances."
Flanagan's Sudbury operation is celebrating its 20th anniversary; it opened 20 years ago, in 1991, and has experienced four expansions since then. Dahl, who joined Flanagan's in 1992, has been involved with each renovation. He says, "Since opening our doors 20 years ago, we have been committed to maintaining a positive presence in Northern Ontario through sales growth which in turns provides jobs. Today this branch has annual sales revenue of over $32 million with aggressive growth plans for the next five years. At a time when some of our competitors have reduced their workforce, and others closed down their operations in Northern Ontario, we have chosen to expand ours and grow both our sales and our workforce. This is the fourth time we've expanded our Lively location, the fifth time we have been under construction in this facility in the last 20 years."
He adds, "We have been fortunate to build a team of people who are loyal, dedicated and focused on customer service. We have two employees, Al Lewis and Charlotte McIntyre, who celebrate their 20th Service Anniversary in September as well, having been aboard from the start."
Dahl noted that, as is common with northern Ontario construction projects, winter weather delayed the project by about a month. September sees final testing of the new facility. The freezer should be fully active by September 29; the dry area, a week earlier.
The expansion is coupled with a marketing push. Says Dahl, "At present, our Lively fleet of trucks travel about 1.2 million kilometres per year, delivering goods as far away as Thunder Bay, Hearst, Mattawa and Parry Sound. With our planned aggressive sales growth we will likely be adding to this fleet in terms of vehicles and kilometers.
He noted, "Flanagan Foodservice Inc. has continued to grow since its creation in 1977. Flanagan Foodservice Inc. is now the largest Canadian privately owned foodservice distributor in Ontario. We supply over 9,000 types of food, equipment and related supplies to restaurants as well as caterers; bakeries; hospitals and nursing homes; mining, logging and kid's camps; country stores and farm markets; schools, prisons, and other institutions; entertainment and conference centres; inns and hotels, and well as other foodservice operations. We are grateful to the Northern Ontario community for finding us a home and embracing us. We are thankful for the opportunity they have provided for us to serve them these past 20 years, and now with this newly expanded facility, even more well into the future."
Meanwhile, in Kitchener, September is also the time for final approvals at the addition to the s.t.o.p. Restaurant Supply outlet on Centennial Court, just off Victoria Street.
The facility has added 4,000 feet of warehouse space, increasing the business's floor space by 50%, according to General Manager Richard Beeksma, and has also improved the office area.
s.t.o.p. operates independently from Flanagan Foodservice, but works in collaboration with Flanagan's, says Beeksma. The s.t.o.p. website (www.shopatstop.com) refers to "a strong partnership with Flanagan Foodservice" which "allows shipments to Flanagan customers using their food distribution system, reaching every corner of Ontario and portions of Quebec as quickly as overnight."
The expansion project took slightly longer than first anticipated—the original plans called for completion four months sooner. However, the project was finished around the first of September, and Beeksma says he is "100% satisfied" with the result.
The improvements mean immediate benefit for s.t.o.p. customers, he says. "There is a lot more variety for our customers, a lot more storage space, and a lot more shopping room as well," since some of the areas for shopping were being utilized for storage before the expansion was carried out.
Furthermore, the extra room "gives us more buying power and therefore, some cost savings," he says.
The expansion also means that all of s.t.o.p.'s inventory is on site—previously, because of space restrictions, some goods were stored at the Kitchener Flanagan headquarters, and some in a trailer in the s.t.o.p. parking lot. Those days are gone. "Everything is now under one roof," says Beeksma.
s.t.o.p. serves a wide variety of customers, and the facility has to reflect that reality. s.t.o.p. has a very viable retail business, as well as " direct s.t.o.p. accounts (restaurants and a wide spectrum of institutions); Flanagan's customers who are looking for a product; some chain business, coast to coast; and the bid and tender side of the business," according to Beeksma.
The construction was carried out by Collaborative Structures Ltd. (CSL) of Cambridge, which also was responsible for the expansion of the Sudbury Flanagan facility, and the recent, major addition to the Flanagan Foodservice head office in Kitchener.