If you were charting the growth pattern of Flanagan's Sudbury Distribution Centre, you would probably need a new, taller chart by now.
Flanagan's Sudbury operation—actually located in Lively—was opened in 1991 as a 24,000 square foot facility. It was expanded in 2000, again in 2005, and now, in 2010, the facility is in the midst of an expansion that will double its freezer capacity. The addition should be completed by the end of the year.
Sudbury Branch Manager Earl Dahl says, "Our addition will consist of 6,715 square feet of freezer space, bringing total freezer to a total 13,240 square feet." As well, the new facilities include a dry addition covering 1628 square feet (for a total dry warehousing area of 16,805 square feet). The distribution centre also includes a 5,240 square foot cooler, 2500 square feet of office space, for a total building area of 37,835 square feet.
Those precise measurements may not be all that important to Flanagan's customers. What will be very important, though, is that the Sudbury Centre will have significantly more storage space, which means fewer items will need to be transported on a daily basis from the Kitchener head office facility.
And that means prompt, efficient and accurate order filling, says Dahl. The current system of daily shipments adds steps that can lead to inefficiency; he expects an increase in accuracy because of the new facility. "This will be a great help," he says. "It streamlines the system. It will really make a big difference." Bottom line? Satisfied customers, says the GM.
Dahl has been with Flanagan's for 18 years; the Sudbury facility opened in 1991 and he joined in July 1992 as a sales representative. He became General Manager in 1998 and, in that role, has overseen all three expansions to the facility.
The Sudbury centre serves a wide-spread area of Northern Ontario, from Parry Sound to the south, Thunder Bay to the west, Hearst and Hornepayne to the north, and Mattawa, to the east.
The new expansion has come about, says Dahl, because of "an increase in business," including the addition of several key accounts, in the past two years. Adding to the existing facility is possible because "last year, we acquired the property next to us."
In fact, Flanagan's has been looking for a property for a larger facility for two or three years, and Dahl says they were very fortunate to find the answer to their growth problem in their own back yard. He adds that he expects the current trend to continue; after expanding in 2000, 2005, and 2010, he expects a further expansion on the existing site "in five years or so."
Everyone is aware of the economic roller coaster that has been the reality of the past few years, but Dahl proudly reports "good years" in terms of sales volumes.
The newly expanded facility will foster even more growth, he believes. In addition to added space, it will mean more staff to augment the current staff of 49 (of which 44 are full time) and some additional equipment. Dahl says that a new forklift is on order; that will bring the total number to five, along with eight end riders. The Sudbury facility has nine trucks, seven tractor trailer units and two tandem trucks on the road.
Under the present system, at least one of those rigs is busy each day, making a round trip to Kitchener, because "right now, we don't have enough room to carry a lot of our product here." That will change, and the number of trips to Kitchener will be cut almost in half, says Dahl. "We'll have a lot more room, and a lot more products."
Dahl is a Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native who came to Sudbury in 1969. He reflects on his increased role in the company since his early days with Flanagan's: "Over the course of my career, I have experienced firsthand the company's commitment to building future leaders through careful development."
He's very proud of what has been accomplished in his part of the Flanagan's world. He says, "The Sudbury facility started from scratch, as there was no existing customer base, although Flanagan's knew there was a need to be filled." That echoes the story of Flanagan's across its wide territory—the family company that was built from scratch.
His roots as a sales person are evident, as he praises his employer: "Flanagan's is the company that 'goes above and beyond' to serve the customer every way we can, through our dedicated employees."
Dahl adds, "I am firmly committed to the focus on our employees and customers. That is what has made our company the leader it is today."
And he is delighted to play a continuing role in Flanagan's growth. He said, "I have had the opportunity to continue building on the legacy of leadership and vision established by this company. The company has consistently built on its commitment for success: quality, service and brand."
He can use the term "built" in a very concrete sense, as the GM of a facility that has seen building projects every five years since 2000... with more to come.
Written by Paul Knowles