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December 5, 2013

Shipping locally grown apples to Europe was the impetus for Trenton Cold Storage Group Inc (TCS) to start their storage and distribution company in 1902. Now a world-wide logistics company serving all of North America and beyond, TCS has multiple sites across Canada—but the bulk of their facilities remain in the City of Quinte West (ON).

Greg Callaghan, TCS’ Manager of Customer Development, pinpoints five key regional drivers for TCS’ global success: location; labour; a strong manufacturing cluster; support from intelligent economic development; and the availability of land.

Location

The region’s adjacency to the Highway 401 has really helped TCS grow. Equi-distance to Toronto and Ottawa, with Montreal not much further along, “In every direction, we are close to massive markets,” says Callaghan.

As a historically strong regional agricultural centre, with excellent positioning, it’s been easy for the Bay of Quinte to blossom into one of Canada’s main manufacturing corridors.

The Highway 401 runs through the Bay of Quinte, and stretches across the main business sections of Ontario, from London to Montreal (Quebec) with border crossings to the USA at Gananoque and Cornwall. “Over 60% of the North American population live within a day’s travel of a Trenton Cold Storage facility,” announces a TCS website headline.

Labour

Incredibly, even after 110 years of major growth and expansion, TCS is still family-owned. Speaking in appreciation of the Bay of Quinte’s strong, nimble and business-minded workforce, Eben James Jr., current CEO of Trenton Cold Storage, has said, “It’s really the employee’s company.” Each of the 200 employees is a trusted stakeholder. Callaghan says the high quality of employees is fostered by a community approach to building the workforce.

“We have a strong relationship with Loyalist College,” a practical skills-based college in Belleville (with satellite sites throughout the region). TCS has benefited from the quality of graduates, and has had interns from Loyalist’s business school. “Our clients also benefit from the food technology division at the Loyalist Training and Knowledge Centre (LTKC).”

There’s a high quality of life in the Bay of Quinte. “You can generally enjoy a better standard of living here, without ‘big city’ traffic. It’s a great place to raise a family because it is safe, real estate is more affordable, and there is a great sports and recreation culture. So for everyday life the Bay of Quinte is ideal, and you’re still only a couple of hours from Ontario’s largest cities, making them easy to visit.”

Such factors help attract and retain staff and are proof of the way multiple organizations work together in the Bay of Quinte to drive economic strength.

Business Cluster

One of the biggest attractions to the region overall is its “ability to compete favourably with large centres on costs,” which makes it easier for organizations to start out, expand, experiment and continue to profitably run in the Bay of Quinte region.

“There are many food processors here, including multinationals like Nestle. Other manufacturers come here to support them,” like the packaging and plastics producers.

Callaghan added, “Manufacturers like to be close to their logistics support.” Such proximity to this cluster has certainly helped TCS achieve greater company goals, like expanding their facility space to Edmonton and Toronto – with hopes of a presence in Atlantic Canada soon, too.

Strategic support

Support from Economic Development offices (at the Federal, Provincial, Regional and Municipal levels) also encourage the region’s growth and development of a healthy supply chain.

“Most of our customers are all over North America. It’s always been easy to find the services we need from this location, and to find people to take up the roles we needed, such as local transportation companies who have been ready to grow with TCS.”

“The economic development teams play a key role in the success of the region, helping attract new manufacturers to the area.” If one company is having a hard time, there is still enough support and opportunity (for companies who work with them) to continue to run at capacity

The regional and city staff also work with their supportive partners to make sure the region has “the right labour, available at the right time” says Callaghan: from job fairs to marketplace surveys to the development of essential workplace training programs.

Availability of land

With seven facilities in the region, Callaghan says “There’s certainly been an abundance of land when we needed it, or saw an opportunity.”

Unlike in larger metropolises, where gridlocked land pushes industrial spaces to less competitive locations (and where existing facilities are not always available) it hasn’t been difficult to source profitable sites and state-of-the-art facilities in the Bay of Quinte. In the Bay of Quinte region, it is manageable to acquire or build spaces well over several hundred thousand square feet (as TCS has previously done in Quinte West).

So remarkably, even after 110 years, Trenton Cold Storage knows the future of their company will be built upon the roots of its original location.

Tags: Trenton Cold Storage Group

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