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Planting roots:

QUINTE WEST, Ont. - At a ceremony held in the former municipality of Trenton, Ont., dignitaries from Great Dane Trailers officially "turned the sod" in advance of construction on the company's first C...

DIG IN: Mayor Jack Arthur and Great Dane's Phil Pines "turn the sod." (Photo by John Curran)
DIG IN: Mayor Jack Arthur and Great Dane's Phil Pines "turn the sod." (Photo by John Curran)

QUINTE WEST, Ont. – At a ceremony held in the former municipality of Trenton, Ont., dignitaries from Great Dane Trailers officially “turned the sod” in advance of construction on the company’s first Canadian manufacturing facility.

“We’ve always had quite a strong presence in Canada,” says Phillip Pines, the trailer builder’s president and chief executive officer. “This facility will only serve to strengthen that position by enhancing our distribution both in Canada and in the Northeastern U.S.”

Designed to encompass 325,000 square feet, the new plant is expected to churn out more than 6,000 dry van and refrigerated trailers annually.

“The reefer model we’re planning to build here is going to be a uniquely Canadian design,” says Mike Thomas, Great Dane senior vice president of manufacturing. “It will incorporate elements of both our Super Seal and Classic reefer models.”

The durable yet light design of the Super Seal trailer will be coupled with the flexibility of the Classic reefer. Various side door options in combination with movable partitions will allow temperature-controlled fleets to take full advantage of less-than-truckload opportunities to maximize revenues. At the same time the elimination of 500 lb. from previous models will further cut fuel expenses.

George Cobham, president of Glasvan Great Dane Sales, says the new design (which will be given an as yet undetermined name to reflect its Canadian roots) will be an excellent addition to the company’s already strong product line.

“Great Dane is an innovator, not a copy builder,” he contends. “And when they come out with new designs you can be sure they’ve been through extensive testing and are proven products.”

In addition to the new reefer, the company’s P-Series dry freight van trailer will be the other model manufactured in Quite West.

Having a domestic source for trailers has Cobham very excited about the future for Glasvan’s coast-to-coast distribution network.

“This will allow us to bring more quality products into both the Canadian and northeastern U.S. trailer markets,” he says. Reduced freight costs, the elimination of costly currency exchanges and fewer delays for customers are the biggest advantages Cobham sees when he forecasts what the plant will mean for his company.

However, Glasvan and Canadian carriers aren’t the only groups looking to reap the rewards delivered by the new plant.

The facility is expected to create 500 jobs once it swings into full production during the spring of 2002. Estimates also have the number of spin-off jobs pegged at 1,000 in related support sectors ranging from catering services to office supply companies.

“We’re going to source as much as we can locally,” says Thomas. “Some of our U.S. suppliers have Canadian outlets, but for the most part we want to quickly become an active community partner in the region.”

The U.S. trailer builder selected Quinte West for what it calls “Canada’s only true reefer manufacturing facility” after the municipality sent a 22-member team to Savanna, Ga. – Great Dane’s corporate headquarters. There they made a proposal regarding the region and vacant land located in the former City of Trenton Industrial Park on the corner of what is now known as Great Dane Way.

According to Jack Arthur, Mayor of Quinte West, following that meeting he knew his team had made a leading contender out of his city.

“Our tax rates appeared to be very competitive at 10 to 15 per cent lower than some of the other municipalities in the running,” he says. “We had everyone we needed to answer any questions they asked us right there on the spot.”

For Pines the decision to come to Quinte West was about much more than simply taxation and acreage.

“Quinte West has been voted the best place to live in Ontario for two years running,” he explains. “We very much wanted to get into an area with a readily available, yet highly-skilled workforce that enjoys a high quality of living.”

It is expected that training programs geared towards prospective plant employees will soon be developed and offered through Loyalist College in neighboring Belleville, Ont. to further this effort.

“We’re celebrating our 100th anniversary and now we’re breaking ground on our first plant outside of the U.S.,” concluded Pines. n

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