WINNIPEG, Man. — Ayr Motor Express plans to open a new, company-owned facility in Winnipeg, Man., by the end of this year.
With several terminals and yards in Canada, Ayr’s current facility in Winnipeg has been a leased space for the past 25 years. As Seth Keenan, director of operations, explained to Today’s Trucking, investing in its own facility will add flexibility and room for the company to grow.
“Over the years, we’ve grown, we’ve added to our customer base, and we’ve got to a point now where we need a space that we can customize to fit our own needs,” said Keenan. “I think we’re a pretty reputable company in the industry, and we like our buildings and our equipment to meet those standards. The unfortunate thing is when you lease, there’s only so much you can do with a building or the property.”
Keenan said Ayr wanted to offer its customers and employees a more modern facility, mirroring some of the company’s other locations, such as its head office in Woodstock, N.B., and its Toronto, Ont., location.
Ayr will provide a full warehouse as well as crossdocking in Winnipeg, as Keenan said many of its customers are looking for these types of services.
But the primary motivation for making such a large investment in Western Canada, as Keenan points out, is people, not just customers, but also its staff.
“You can’t run a company without people,” he said. “If you have a professional business in a building like this, our hope is that it will attract people as well. We have a lot of long-term employees, and part of this is to give back to them.”
The new facility, which is set to break ground by the end of January and open in early December 2021, will feature such amenities as lounges, a lunch room, locker rooms, and showers, for both drivers and staff.
Ayr employs roughly 35 people, including drivers and office staff at its current location in Winnipeg. With its investment, the company will look to grow its sales footprint in Winnipeg, which in turn, will mean additional jobs for drivers, dispatch, and in the warehouse.
“This is not a decision that we made overnight,” said Keenan. “We’ve been looking for the right opportunity and the right location. If you’re in trucking in Winnipeg, you need to be in the central part of the trucking hub and that’s where we’ve positioned ourself.”
The new facility will be situated near Rosser, Man., about five minutes north of Ayr’s current location, which is at Brookside Blvd., in the city’s northwest region.
“That whole area has grown quite a bit,” said Keenan. “There are a lot of other transport companies in that area as well.”
In addition to Winnipeg, Ayr has yards in Calgary and Edmonton, Alta., as well as Vancouver, B.C., providing daily service into those three major points. They also have a terminal in Brampton, Ont.
Keenan’s father, Joe Keenan, is the company’s current owner and president, and launched Ayr Motor Express in 1990.
Originally from New Brunswick, Seth said his father’s trucking roots were planted during his time in Manitoba, where the Keenan family resided before moving to Ontario in 1989. Joe started the company in Ayr, Ont., which is where the carrier’s name originates. After a few years, Joe moved the business to his home province of New Brunswick.
But expanding into Western Canada was always important to Joe.
“A major reason why we have an operation in Manitoba is because that’s where Joe started his trucking roots and he has a lot of connections and customers that he would have had back in the ‘80s and we still have today,” said Seth. “That whole triangle of Toronto to Winnipeg, to the south back to Toronto has become a major part of our network.”