Great Dane acquisitions don’t eliminate idea of Canadian plant

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QUINTE WEST, Ont. — Despite misleading media reports to the contrary, trailer giant Great Dane has not soured on the idea of coming north to the shores of Lake Ontario.

This revelation came as the Great Dane Limited Partnership announced plans to buy two van mills — only one of which is presently in operation — from Strick Trailer Corp. The newly purchased plants are located in Danville, Pa., and Abbeville, S.C. The Danville, Pa., plant will produce trailers for the Northeastern U.S. and Canadian market.

“The idea of a Canadian plant has not been eliminated,” stresses Brandie Fuller, a spokesperson for the company. “It has not been killed, it is just sliding to the back burner.”

In 2000, the Georgia-based manufacturer began trumpeting plans to erect a 300,000-square-foot factory in the former municipality of Trenton, Ont. Approximately 6,000 trailers, many of which slated to be reefers, would been churned out every year by some 500 workers.

In 2001, plans to build in Quinte West were put on hold do to the weak economy and catastrophic losses experienced by many manufacturers serving the trucking industry.

“The business is coming back and we’re in a great position to capitalize,” says Fuller. “Once we’re completely back on our feet, Canada will come back into the picture.”

Post Sept. 11, many Canadian analysts have suggested there is a push south of the border for manufacturers to ensure there are plenty of jobs at home before looking at locations outside of U.S. protection. Fuller insists this was not a factor in Great Dane’s decision, however.

“The opportunity to buy these plants actually presented itself before Sept. 11,” she explains. “It comes down to pure economics: For right now it’s a lot cheaper to buy existing plants from a good company that has fallen on hard times, than it is to build a new facility from the ground up.”

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