The Gateway News - Spring 2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018 - Regina, Saskatchewan

Loblaw planning to add jobs at GTH

More workers needed to handle increased volume

There will soon be more heads at the Loblaw Distribution Centre – and not just in the lettuce aisle.

Canada’s largest grocery retailer is planning to add a number of jobs in the Queen City to keep pace with increased volume moving through the facility. According to Regina distribution centre manager Tim Buchinski, demand over the past 12 months has prompted his management team to take a closer look at their long-term workforce needs.

“We’re looking at a number of job roles to support the growth we’re experiencing,” says Buchinski. “Warehouse workers, truck drivers, maintenance staff are among the roles we are looking at adding to our full-time payroll.”

Buchinski says their location at the Global Transportation Hub is an integral part of Loblaw’s success. “Without a doubt, being near the CP intermodal yard is a significant benefit to our operations as we bring in millions of goods by rail, into our warehouse every week. A transportation hub is the right model for our business because it’s a place designed for efficient movements of foods. Timing is everything in our demanding consumer-based business.”

Loblaw supplies some 250 stores from its 1-million-square-foot distribution centre.

“Saskatchewan is a very business-friendly province,” notes Buchinski. We work closely with the province as well as community and business leaders. That sort of support is critical to success.”

The welcome mat is also put out to new Canadians which has helped increase immigration to the province; a trend Loblaw predicts will continue to rise. For his business, that translates to more consumer demand. “A lot of off-shore product comes off the rail-line. We’re situated in the right location to meet that demand quickly and efficiently,” he says.

Buchinski expects Loblaw will start the hiring process before the end of the year. The exact number of new employees is not being shared at this time; Buchinski could only say the number will be significant.

Currently, there are over 700 people on their Regina payroll.

Moving closer: Tenants preparing for GTEC opening

Keys turned over to first set of tenants of trade complex

There were smiles all around on a beautiful spring day as the first tenants received their keys to the Global Trade and Exhibition Centre (GTEC) complex recently constructed at the Global Transportation Hub (GTH). The milestone moment on June 11th marked the beginning of what is expected to be a busy summer for GTEC. All 120 condo units in Phase One of the project have been purchased by small and medium-sized Asian manufacturers and entrepreneurs establishing operations in Saskatchewan as a base to sell into the North American market.

“We are excited to see this trade complex become a reality,” says Bryan Richards, President and CEO of the GTH. “We are witnessing the powerful attraction of Canada, Saskatchewan and the GTH as a gateway to expanding international trade.”

Brightenview’s property manager Colliers International will continue transferring tenant possession through the summer, with the new entities expected to unveil their businesses and products. When the GTEC project is fully developed, as many as 300 businesses will reside in GTEC with a projected business capital investment of over $200 million.

Brightenview is a Saskatchewan-based international business development company. They offer commercial real estate development and project management, professional consulting services, business plan establishment, and international product marketing and promotion. GTEC marks their first major development since incorporating their company in 2012.

“GTEC is making it easier for international investors to establish in an unfamiliar market and where language and business traditions can sometimes be a barrier. It’s a model we’re excited to introduce into North America,” says Joe Zhou, CEO of Brightenview.

Moving quickly to move goods quickly

Regina Bypass on target for October 2019 completion

It’s seems fitting that a project designed to improve the speed and efficiency of transportation is moving with both speed and efficiency.

Darrell Trapp, structures manager for the Regina Bypass Design Builders (RBDB) told GTH clients in May that the $1.88 billion project is on schedule for completion in Fall 2019.

"The last two winters have been reasonably mild which allowed our crew to get work completed and maintain our aggressive schedule,” says Trapp, who noted that a dry summer in 2017 also helped with progress.

For the GTH, completion of the final phase of this project next year will mean that highly anticipated free-flow connectivity to the highway networks will finally be realized. Feverish work at the intersection of the TransCanada Highway is evidence of the magnitude of this project. “There’s seven bridges in this interchange – it’s a high-speed interchange and there’s over two million cubic metres of dirt here so far,” notes Trapp.

The new four-lane bypass is the largest infrastructure investment in the province’s history coming in with a $1.88 billion price tag. Forty kilometers of new highway and service roads, plus 10 interchanges and three new intersections will offer a huge boost to the trucking industry.

“There’s a lot of positive buzz around how the Bypass is going to impact the shipment and movement of goods throughout Saskatchewan,” he adds.

Al Ackerman, president and owner of Slinkemo Enterprises, says completion of the Bypass will have a significant impact on the transportation industry. By removing traffic inhibitors (like stop lights and left turns across highway lanes), moving cargo will become faster, safer and more efficient.

“It’s quite exciting to think about traffic movement in the future because the bypass will allow road speed exits onto all the major highways that connect to the city,” says Ackerman, who runs a 22-truck and 100-chassis container drayage and retrain transport operation out of the GTH.

GTH CEO Bryan Richards says the Regina Bypass is a game-changer that can make Regina the new trucking hub of the Prairies. “Free-flow access to the national highway network is critical for us to compete on a national and international scale as a true inland port,” he says.

“Economic sustainability and an efficient supply-chain system is a key factor for transportation providers, distributors and other involved in supply chain when considering the best location to move products in and out of the province.”

Ackerman agrees. “If you leave Calgary and you want to be in Winnipeg tomorrow morning, you’ll need a team outfit, whereas from Regina you can be in Winnipeg or Calgary overnight, single driver,” he notes. “Once this Bypass is open, all those major cities in Western Canada are accessible overnight. This is a big part of the reason I wanted my company at the GTH.”

Transportation a part of protein “Supercluster”

PIC exploring end-to-end approach for agriculture

As Ron Styles considers the road to greater value for Western Canadian agriculture, he knows that after research, growing and processing comes an essential last leg of the journey: the ability to sell and ship products to growing markets.

Up until May 31, Styles was the Acting President of Protein Industries Canada (PIC), which recently received $153 million in long-term funding under the Federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative. As part of its mandate, PIC will be exploring ways to leverage the region’s unmatched strengths in agricultural research and crop production to find new opportunities for protein processing and marketing.

“If you’re going to be successful, you need to think about entire value chain,” says Styles, a seasoned executive who spent seven years as President and Chief Executive Officer of SaskTel. “The Federal program encourages you to look at this from an end-to-end perspective. It’s being funded with long-term vision that should allow us to be that much more successful.”

PIC brings together world-class research at academic institutions across the prairies with government and industry partners – all driven to generate greater value from prairie crops.

Given the growing global population and the increasing demand for proteins that are part of a healthy diet, Styles sees significant potential in processing crops for plant proteins. With a rise in protein-rich pulses grown in Western Canada, PIC is hoping to reverse the current practice of shipping raw commodities that are often processed and sold back into Canada with increased value.

“We want to take those same crops and push them up the value chain,” says Styles. “Take out the protein and the value may be seven or eight times as much per metric tonne. That’s good for farmers, good for the processing industry and good for the Canadian economy.”

Styles believes the GTH can play an important role in value-added agriculture. The opportunity to deliver crops directly from nearby farmland to a dedicated processing facility to a transportation partner – all under a small geographic footprint – creates a unique market advantage.

“Think about managing from a block-chain perspective,” says Styles. “We need to be thinking about how you can provide a product that has complete traceability from the farmer’s field through the processing chain to when someone receives it. Transportation is a very important part of it. The GTH is well-situated to be part and parcel of handling that kind of growth.”

A steely-eyed focus on the future

Sutherland brings executive, governance leadership to GTH board

With more than 40 years in the steel industry, David Sutherland has a perspective on business, international trade and leadership that is hardened by fire. And, since joining the GTH Board of Directors in November 2016, he has used that lens to assess the GTH – and sees a clear path to capturing potential for the company and the province.

“You need to focus on the attributes of the facility and the attributes of the location and focus your efforts on the synergies that exist going forward,” says Sutherland. “The facility could bring significant value if it focuses on the natural attributes of the province in which it’s based. That’s where we should spend the preponderance of our time.”

Sutherland brings a rare understanding of the landscape in Saskatchewan and of international industry. A native of Moose Jaw and graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, Sutherland is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of IPSCO and currently serves on the boards of US Steel (where he is chairman), Imperial Oil and GATX, an international railcar and vessel leasing company based in Chicago.

He remains connected to Saskatchewan and Western Canada as Chairman of the Graham Group of Companies and on the Board of Trustees for Huskie Athletics at the University of Saskatchewan.

“Saskatchewan has always been good to me. It’s my home province and joining the Board of the GTH was one way to give back,” says Sutherland, who now lives in Waterloo, Ontario. “The second reason is that I have a lot of respect for (GTH Board Chair) Doug Moen. When I was asked, I wanted to help.”

Over the past 18 months, Sutherland and the renewed GTH Board have placed their focus on strategy – aiming to optimize GTH assets with current and future opportunities. The Board also continues to refine its governance model, which is now aligned with industry best practices and operates in a manner that resembles major corporations around the world.

“A governance structure existed when I started and has evolved and improved immensely – either through changes that have been adopted or by improving what was already in place,” says Sutherland. “You have the right size and number of committees to make recommendations to the full board for adoption or approval. It’s relatively standard to what you see in the larger private or public markets.

“With a better governance structure and a concentration on strategy, that should give the staff the comfort to spend their hours serving existing clients and finding new ones. It’s all about creating a better circumstance and a more successful enterprise going forward.”

Sutherland sees that enterprise becoming more active in pursuing companies that can support new develop in Saskatchewan’s agricultural sector.

“We’re sitting on a rail line; we’re on our only major trans-Canada highway; we’re on new bypass that will get you around transportation constraints,” he says, in assessing the GTH’s key opportunities. “We’re sitting in Saskatchewan, with agrarian base at a time when there is a hungry world looking for more food and proteins. You need to play to those strengths. Organizations in other fields of endeavor may want to buy a piece of land here and that’s okay too, but we’ve become more focused and, therefore, I think we will become more successful.”

Success in Sutherland’s eyes mean attracting more investment at the GTH – the kind of investment that generates more jobs, more revenue and more opportunity in Saskatchewan. That includes expanding relationships with transportation providers and service companies that can facilitate the smooth, efficient shipment of products to and from the province.

“You need something to spur that on because the spinoffs are considerable,” says Sutherland. “One needs to then contemplate other investments – by us and our partners – to make the adjunct transportation necessities available on site.

“You need to facilitate containerization and modular activities. Everything that needs to be shipped doesn’t fill a whole railcar or a whole truck, so we need access to activities or facilities that don’t exist today. Whether those are activities we provide or a third party provides, we need to set those up on site.”

And when he assesses the opportunities at the GTH, he speaks of it with the pride of someone who was achieved success by following the Saskatchewan model of hard work and ethical decision making.

“We have this facility; we’re invested in it,” he says. “We’re sitting in a bread basket and we can attract partners to Canada because we can provide attributes they don’t have at home. Nobody can outhustle and outwork the people in Saskatchewan. We won’t have the most people, but we have talented people who will be successful.”