VersaCold shows off new distribution center in Milton

by Sonia Straface

MILTON, Ont. — VersaCold Logistics Services today celebrated the grand opening of its newest distribution center, which is poised to be the largest facility of its kind in Canada.

Doug Harrison

The new facility, located in Milton, Ont. measures in at 255,000 sq.-ft. of warehouse area, and today has total pallet capacity of just under 26,000 pallet positions. Its various cold and refrigerated rooms range from four to -30 degrees Celcius, and mostly holds temperature sensitive food products like ice cream and frozen pizza.

According to VersaCold, upon completion, this new center will be the country’s largest third party operated refrigerated facility by square footage. Currently, the center is only two-thirds of the way completed and is operating at about half of its capacity. The building is scheduled to be completed in December 2018 when the total operational space will reach more than 19.1 million cubic feet, and capacity will hit 70,000 pallet positions.

“This is a major day for our teams and our organization,” said VersaCold’s president and CEO, Doug Harrison. “It’s our team that really makes things happen and (the grand opening) couldn’t happen without all of them…I’d also like to recognize one customer in particular that was very instrumental in bringing this facility to life. I want to thank Nestle for joining us today and for their support and encouragement. We look forward to working together and continuing to focus to bring value to Nestle and all of our customers.”

Harrison said that choosing Milton as its location for its newest distribution centre was strategic. First, the building had the bones it needed to make a working facility (the building was previously occupied by Sobey’s for more than a decade) and second, Milton is quickly becoming a popular distribution hub.

“Milton is a friendly business community,” he said. “And there’s a great workforce in Milton. The center of Milton as a logistics hub is evolving more and more, plus there’s great access into south of the border, great access into the GTA. It creates a lot of efficiencies in the supply chain in general. So Milton just made sense. We’re proud to bring new jobs to Milton, and contribute to local food banks as well.”

Racks in the cold zone

The grand opening was attended by customers and trade media, as well as Gordon Krantz, the longtime mayor of Milton, and member of Parliament, Lisa Raitt.

“Thank you for making Milton your choice for logistics and I wish further success and further expansion for VersaCold,” Raitt said.

According to VersaCold, the new center will handle about 30 loads per day inbound, and 60 loads per day outbound. Of those loads, more than 2.7 million cubic feet of ice cream and more than 48 million pounds of frozen pizzas will be shipped out.

Right now, there are 33 workers in the facility that handle the frozen and refrigerated goods. Eleven work on the day shift, 11 on the afternoon shift, and 11 on the night shift. Workers are limited to spending 90 minutes in the freezer area at one time.

“It’s a big investment, we’re excited about it,” Harrison said. “We care very deeply about quality and safety of food and we hope it shows.”

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