Canada Cartage expands Ottawa presence, eyes Final Mile growth

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Canada Cartage has expanded by 50 trucks through its acquisition of City Transfer. But the deal announced this week also represents just the latest step in a strategy to further expand its presence in and around the nation’s capital.

The carrier first entered the Ottawa market as recently as 2017, acquiring Fred Guy’s specialized flatdeck division and opening a new cross-dock terminal.

“We didn’t have a terminal and didn’t have a lot of presence,” says Canada Cartage chief administrative officer David Zavitz, referring to services available prior to that year.

(Photo: James Menzies)

The fleet has since acquired Grant Transport customers and assets in the city.

Twenty City Transfer trucks add to the 25 Canada Cartage units already based there. (Another 30 City Transfer units are domiciled in locations including Toronto, Hamilton, and Montreal.)

There is a goal to amalgamate the Ottawa operations, too.

“We were outgrowing our existing terminal anyway, so we are going to have to make a move,” Zavitz says.

The market is seen as one of the keys to expanding services that support several high-profile customers. Those include the likes of Sobeys, Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Home Depot, as well as food manufacturers, beer distributors, and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

The latest deal emerged when Canada Cartage president and CEO Jeff Lindsay reached out to City Transfer owner Val Milio, who shared several common customers.

The City Transfer brand remains in place for now, but it will likely carry the Canada Cartage name in the future, Zavitz says.

That isn’t always the case. Canada Cartage maintained the Speedee Transportation brand after acquiring that Western Canadian business in 2019. But Speedee activities were more focused on the freight management of general freight, he notes.

Growth strategy

The carrier’s growth targets are not limited to Ottawa alone.

“We see growth opportunities in a couple of areas. One is through acquisitions – partly because there is a lot of transportation companies where you have owners of an age where they’re looking to divest,” Zavitz says.

The company already has 419 straight trucks, 2.848 tractors, 2,520 trailers, 1,070 owner-operators, and 3,262 employees.

Canada Cartage also expects continuing growth in Final Mile deliveries that have expanded dramatically during Covid-19.

Many existing retail customers had to accelerate their e-commerce activities in recent months, Zavitz says. And while Canada Cartage specializes in moving bulkier commodities that requires two-man deliveries it has also played a role in helping to coordinate moves of smaller items that roll over conveyors.

“We were able to help our customers – the retailers and the couriers.”

While volume surges may ease after the pandemic, there will be more of this business post-Covid, he adds.

“We have been actively looking at potential (fleet) acquisitions in the ecommerce side on the small parcels.”

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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