Toronto – Acklands-Grainger Inc., a Richmond Hill, ON-based distributor of industrial, safety and fastener products, hosted ‘The Works’, called Canada’s largest maintenance repair and operations (MRO) and safety show, at the Toronto Congress Centre in January. As part of the event, the company, founded in 1889 as D. Ackland & Son, celebrated its 125th year of operations.
‘The Works’ brought together more than 3,000 members of the Canadian business community, manufacturers of MRO and safety products, and Acklands-Grainger team members to discuss industry trends, safety, and strategies for reducing operating costs and enhancing productivity
“Our goal is to serve as a trusted partner to local businesses by providing access to more than 350,000 products, related solutions and support, through events like this, to help them be successful,” said Eric Nowlin, president of Acklands-Grainger.
The show, now in its eighth year, featured a 9,000 sq. ft. factory-themed pavilion that showcased nearly 500 different products. It illustrated how businesses across the country can leverage eCommerce capabilities and inventory management solutions to save time and money in buying and managing their MRO purchases, said Sandro Verrelli, Acklands-Grainger vice-president for strategic growth.
The show included a wide variety of seminars to provide information and industry best practices in areas related to effectively managing MRO costs, creating a world-class safety culture and how sustainability efforts can help drive business performance.
In one presentation to its staff and suppliers, the company showed a video case study about Canadian National and how the railway sources its supplies from the distributor. Another video, shot during and after the 2013 flooding in Calgary, captured the heroic efforts of the distributor’s Manhatten Branch staff in that city during the disaster.
“Canadian businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Nowlin. He added that the three “big themes” the company is focusing on in 2014 are productivity, sustainability and safety, as these are important to its customers.
“We’re making unprecedented investments in the Canadian market,” he said. The company is currently constructing a new facility in Caledon, north of Toronto, which will have 550,000 sq. ft. of storage space. In the Toronto area, the company’s capacity will go from 60,000 SKUs to 300,000 SKUs.
Expansion also is planned in Ft. McMurray, which − sales-wise − is the biggest Grainger branch in the world. The facility there, now 40,000 sq. ft., will be expanded to 115,000 sq. ft. and capacity will grow from 15,000 unique items to 80,000 items.
Next on the expansion list is a new Edmonton facility that will increase capacity there to 400,000 items. Nowlin said the company is currently looking for space in the area to house a facility of up to a million square feet.
These expansions will help bring the distributor’s product offerings to as many as 600,000 SKUs over the next five years, Nowlin said.
Acklands-Grainger, which is owned by Chicago-based W.W. Grainger Inc., Lake Forest, IL, has 172 branches in Canada and has an estimated 8% market share.