SHERBROOKE, Quebec—American Biltrite (Canada) Ltd. is working toward one of its largest investments in its 105-year history.
The company currently is finishing the first phase of a $12 million investment in its Sherbrooke facility. The expansion plan, which should take about three years to complete all three phases, will add about 30 new employees, increasing the total number at the facility to 260, according to Frederic Guerin, vice president of sales and marketing. The total size of the facility will not change with the investment.
The investment is being done for development of an upcoming rubber flooring product line, which will be launched in the first quarter of 2018, Guerin said. The investment also involves additional equipment that will boost production capacity significantly, which can be used for both the new flooring product line as well as the company's industrial rubber division.
"We're planning for the future. We're growing, and we need to invest in our capacity to support our growth and support our customers in what we do," Guerin said.
Expanding with the rubber flooring product line will allow American Biltrite to be a bigger player in its current markets, he said.
"We are the leader in the market on the industrial rubber side. On the flooring side, we have very good products, but the market is so much bigger," Guerin said. "We're just a small player in the industry. Look at the direction we're taking. We'll definitely be a bigger player in the years to come."
The company also opened a new stocking facility in June, located in Denver. The new facility strengthens the company's distribution network, bringing the total to seven facilities in the U.S. and two in Canada. American Biltrite is able to stock products in appropriate locations to enable quick response to specific markets, Guerin said.
"We've been able to better serve our customers by having more stock delivered to their location, and it has proven to be a good solution for the past few months," he said. "The demand is there, and the speed of reaction is important in the distribution business."
With the new warehouse in Denver, about 80-90 percent of orders placed with American Biltrite can be delivered in the next day throughout North America, said Paul Smith, business development manager.
"We've got pretty good coverage for common materials to be received the next day," he said. "We have 26 independent sales agents that make up our sales force and who can probably get to a customer for assistance within 4-6 hours. Nobody else can do that in the industrial market for rubber sheet and specialty products."
The Denver facility is developed for the mining industry, but the company isn't opposed to expanding the location with other products if demand arises, Smith said.
Another way the company is looking toward the future is by reducing its carbon footprint, lowering its carbon dioxide emissions by 33 percent in the last year. The company has managed its footprint by adding some new, efficient equipment, and getting a better control of its processes, Guerin said.
American Biltrite also has reduced the quantity of product being sent to the landfill by a significant proportion, including reducing the amount of trim from the side of rolls. The company also has made some investment in changing its warehouse lighting to LED bulbs, which use energy more efficiently.
The company, which is ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 2015 certified, set goals to reduce its footprint in the last year, and both met and exceeded some of those goals, Guerin said.
"We want to still be a leader in the industry by using less energy and supporting our initiatives as well," Guerin said. "Reaching our goal is one thing, but we're setting new goals for the years to come. When you're ISO 14001, it's kind of in your DNA. You set new goals and you want to achieve them.
"We're doing it for ourselves, for our kids. It's more a matter of being a good corporate citizen."