While the new Carquest Canada/Worldpac Distribution Centre has been ramping up operations for some months, a recent open house event allowed the organization to showcase the operation and officially celebrate its arrival on the Canadian aftermarket scene.
The 580,000 square foot, high tech distribution facility, is located in Bolton, Ont., a few minutes’ drive north of Toronto Pearson International Airport. It represents a significant increase in capability in the Canadian market for Advance Auto Parts, parent of Carquest Canada and Worldpac, and also represents a first for Advance Auto Parts in that it combines both Carquest and Worldpac Canadian headquarters and main distribution in one facility.
Bob Cushing, Executive VP: Professional at Advance Auto Parts Inc. and CEO of Worldpac was on hand to lead the presentations at the open house event May 6, attended by local and provincial political officials as well as key suppliers and store personnel among others.
“The only way something like this happens, is when we have this high level of collaboration, coordination. Our supplier community, our team members, of course, everybody here basically ended up participating and making this happen.
“This was a dream of ours that we had, and it took us a couple of years to get here. So, we’re really excited about that.
“And so, for ourselves, it’s all about servicing the Canadian market. The market is critically important to us. It always has been. I’ve been involved in it for over 26 years myself, and really excited about it.
“When you look at this, this is another investment we’re making into Canada. And so, we have certainly some pretty high aspirations on basically doubling the business. I won’t tell you in how many years, but we certainly are going to do it.
“But I think the important part of it is this is about servicing the communities in which we live. We all drive vehicles. And so, to me, transportation is critically important and we fill a needed role in that. And when you bring together two iconic brands, Carquest and Worldpac–who have a completely different portfolio of products that they carry–when we bring that together into a facility like this and make this readily available to everybody, it makes a difference.”
Currently housing approximately 150,000 skus, the facility has a capacity to serve some 350,000 skus; it’s currently picking and packing some 190,000 lines a week, which Cushing says can easily grow to 400,000 a week.
The warehouse operation is dominated by the “Green Monster” multi level racking area. Lucian Jurca, Director Supply Chain Operations for Carquest says the system is impressive, with a spiraling conveyor system, multi-level mezzanine and a high capacity to move products.
“So, the big module processes 65% of our outbound volume. We are shipping from this about 1600 units per hour and only eight teammates working on this. Compared with what we used to have before in terms of a conveyor, it’s 10 times faster.
“So, it has a very good speed in order for us to bring the product out and takes an average of eight minutes from the moment we put the product on the conveyor belt on the other side.
“Product are slotted, as you would expect, based on velocity. We minimize the walking distance in the picking area. So, this way their productivity goes up.”
The net result is a pick rate on the order of 800 units per hour.
“Before I began working with Bob (Cushing), I ran our corporate strategy department,” said Rob Speranza, Senior Vice President Professional Business, Advance Auto Parts. “And in our corporate strategy, we highlighted that one of the biggest advantages that Advance at the enterprise level has is the power of its brand and its assortment. And the opportunity is how do we improve the customer experience? By bringing and making all those parts available to the consumer. Make it easier, give them greater access.
“Our business covers all of North America. We chose Canada, and we chose this location because this is a dynamic market. We think there’s such potential here. And then you combine that with a workforce and work team who’s centered around the customer and delivering against the customer expectations, that to me, is an extremely big idea, and that’s what you’re seeing today.”
Connecting with community
At the Carquest Canada and WORLDPAC open house for it’s new Bolton Distribution Centre in the Town of Caledon, Ontario, presenters took the time away from talking about what the 580,000 square foot facility means to remind attendees that the importance of giving never ends.
It’s Charitable Foundation has supported Children’s Breakfast Clubs for some years, and made a donation of $5,000 at the event.
“I can tell you, not only is this an extremely efficient corporation to be affiliated with, they’re a corporation with a heart. And I can tell you over the years, the Children’s Breakfast Club has benefited so greatly from all of the staff in the stores and in the plant back here,” said Rick Gosling, founder of the Children’s Breakfast Clubs.
In addition to funding breakfast programs, the organization and Carquest have also launched a winter coat drive that collects more than 50,000 winter coasts and distributes them across Ontario and beyond.
“And it’s because of the frontline staff, and it’s under the leadership that you see this filter down. When I pull in here with the truck to get winter coats, the guys and the people on the forklifts are moving trucks for me. These great big transport trucks don’t seem to be the priority anymore. It’s making sure that our kids have a warm coat for that day.
“I’m going to leave you with one last story. I was out in Peterborough and there were about 90 children normally in the club. I went in and there was nobody in the club. I said to the leader, what’s going on? She said, “Look out there.” And it was a cold winter’s day, and we saw all these children playing with bright illuminated coats on. She said, ‘There’s what’s happening. And it’s because of Carquest, kids are able to play, they’re able to participate in school, they’re able to be successful, and it’s because of your partnership with us.’ So, thank you so, so much for your generosity and kindness. “