The move of the distributor’s facilities from Montreal to a facility of double the size in the Greater Toronto Area will enable more Canadian integration work, better SLAs for more customers, and improved co-ordination with the U.S. distribution facility in Indianapolis.
Westcon-Comstor recently launched its new distribution facility in Oakville, west of Toronto. The company also formally moved its head offices in Canada from Montreal to the new complex. The move basically doubles the amount of space – from 24,000 sq. feet at the old centre to 47,500 at the new. The advantages go beyond simply having bigger digs however, as Westcon says they expect several major advantages from the move.
The Canadian restructuring comes on the heels of – and is connected to – similar changes recently made in the U.S.
“Two years ago, we consolidated in the US with a single centre in Indianapolis, whereas before we had ones in Reno NV and Chantilly VA as well,” said Siobhan Byron, Westcon Group’s Vice President of Canada and General Manager of Canada. “In the U.S., this produced great efficiencies, and they found that they could service 80 per cent of the U.S. with next day service out of Indianapolis. The changes in Canada were the next step.”
Domestic growth in Canada also motivated the move to a larger facility.“Our Canadian business has been phenomenal, and grew over 30 per cent in Canada over the last year,” said Dolph Westerbos, Westcon Group’s CEO. “It has been very exciting to see that growth and momentum that Siobhan and her team have created. We needed to focus on how to best continue to drive that growth, and with this new facility, we now have a platform to continue it.”
Over 100 customers and all Westcon’s major vendor partners in Canada attended the opening. Westcon’s Canadian staff has been expanded to the 65-70 employee range, 55 of whom are based in Oakville. Some of the newly hired engineers are locally recruited graduates of Sheridan College. The Montreal warehouse has been closed, and the warehouse manager relocated to the Toronto area. Many members of the team in Montreal continue to work for Westcon, through remote working arrangements.
“The evolving market really required this facility,” Westerbos said. “We are making greater investments in automation, in testing, and in remote configuration. We have developed a whole range of new solutions over the last year and a half, and we needed a built-for-purpose facility to be able to execute them to their full effect.”
Byron said that the new facility’s integration capabilities dwarfed what they had available previously.
“With this full integration centre, we have built out a lot of automated functionality,” she said. “Before we had to rely on Indianapolis for this, with some smaller capabilities in Montreal. Now, we have all these capabilities here.”
Byron also said the new facility’s location will drive additional efficiencies, because of the sheer size of the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] and its importance to Westcon’s business.“The move to the Toronto area will significantly improve service levels to our customers. It means a 20 per cent improvement in shipping time. It also lets us put in a pickup window here so customers in the GTA can pickup locally to get something very fast. That gives us more options, and improves our ability to service customers. Because of Toronto’s proximity to Indianapolis, we can receive product here and have it go out the same day if needed. This provides more options for shipping for Toronto area, but also shipment options that extend beyond the local area, across Canada. It can improve our SLA by up to 50 per cent depending on where we are shipping to.”
Westcon Group’s strengths remain its core specializations — security, networking and unified communications – but the security portfolio and the security provider market are particularly strong in Canada.
“We are very strong on the security side, and have seen tremendous growth in the security sector over the last couple years,” Byron said.
Westerbos stated that while the distribution industry is under significant pressure, which has led to the acquisition of Ingram Micro by a Chinese concern, he said Westcon remains well positioned.
“The space itself is undergoing a lot of change, although I don’t think the acquisition of Ingram reflects that change, or affects it,” he said. “It’s not a consolidation change. It’s just moving from public to private. It doesn’t change the distribution landscape. However, I do see a real round of consolidation happening as we move from a more traditional model of physical products to software and cloud and the consumption of IT-as-a-Service. That requires operating capabilities that are vastly different and more complex. For smaller distribution players who can’t invest in the operations and tools needed for this, that will likely be a problem. We see ourselves in a positon to benefit from that consolidation and to become involved it ourselves.”