In the late 1990s, Chris Fletcher and the folks at Remington Tire Distributors Inc. decided it was time to eat or be eaten. Not half a decade later, they're enjoying quite the Canadian feast.
Over the past 18 months Remington-a tire wholesaler that caters to everything from single-store independent tire dealers to large national Canadian chains like Tirecraft Auto Centres-has opened warehouses in St. John's, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Mississauga, Ontario; and Victoria, British Columbia. That expansion brought the company's near nationwide coverage to 17 distribution centers.
The warehouses range from 5,000 square feet in Victoria to 65,000 square feet in Edmonton, Alberta. The 17 centers cover a total of 280,000 square feet of indoor storage and approximately 250,000 square feet of outdoor storage.
The expansion saw Remington's employment double over the five-year span, to around 200. Mr. Fletcher, the Cornwall-based company's president, said business has increased similarly, something the wholesaler sorely needed. ``Back five or six years ago we decided we either needed to grow or we would be taken out or pushed out.''
Seeing exactly what it could offer tire manufacturers via national coverage, Remington expanded.
``There are real advantages for the manufacturers that we support in that they have one company with national coverage which helps them in their penetration of markets across the country,'' Mr. Fletcher explained. ``There are also national companies who want one supplier and one reporting system for the management of their accounts. This is particularly important for companies that do not have tires as their main focus.''
The company inventories and sells BFGoodrich, Continental, Dayton, Dean, Double Coin, General, Hankook, Hercules, Michelin, Pirelli, Remington and Titan brand tires as well as some custom wheels.
It also sells wheels ``as a service to our dealer network. It is not our focus,'' Mr. Fletcher said. ``We like the specialty market. In fact, if it is a tire we like to sell it.'' He said the company will offer ``whatever it takes to help our dealers be successful.''
Remington's expansion throughout the Great White North has taught Mr. Fletcher some things about his nation. It is far more diverse than he realized.
``This is a very large country with a small population base,'' he said. ``The needs of the dealer in St John's, Newfoundland, are similar but not identical to the dealer in Victoria, British Columbia. The one common and unrelenting need is a high level of service and a responsive supplier.''
Despite the new warehouses, he said the firm isn't necessarily finished expanding and will continue to look for other opportunities.