One of our department’s initiatives this year is to go out and meet with our local business owners and managers to get a better sense of what Brockville has to offer them, as well as to look at any challenges they may be experiencing. One of these businesses is Wills Transfer, which has been in operation since 1945 and in Brockville since 1999. Their company provides logistics solutions including supply chain services (warehousing, inventory management, order fulfillment, transportation and outsourcing solutions) and manages a diverse range of products.
What was clear about this company right from the start was their emphasis on partnerships and collaboration. Whether you are an employee or a customer, you are a valued member of their team where everyone works together to improve processes for the betterment of the company and clients. We followed up with Terry Wills, President of Wills Transfer, to find out why Brockville was the right fit for their business, and what they feel sets them apart from their competitors.
1. Can you provide a brief overview of your company and what you do:
We live by our mission statement: to provide innovative logistic solutions to contribute to our customers’ success. We work alongside our customers and provide logistical support (warehousing, fulfillment, transportation) for services that are not at the core of what manufactures and our clientele do. We apply our expertise to make our customers better. Through this partnership, we make each other better. Brockville is the epitome of global manufacturing: Shell, 3M and other companies that are found here compete on a global scale and they need to be able to continuously innovate and gain efficiencies. We help them gain a global advantage by working together to create seamless processes.
2. Tell us a bit about how your business came to be and the path you took to get where you are today:
The company was started in 1945 by my grandfather doing cartage and local deliveries. It has been carried on by our family and is now a 4th generation business. I rejoined the company in 1979 and we grew to take on warehousing and order fulfillment which we are still doing today.
3. How many people work for your company?
We have 175 employees from drivers to warehouse workers, customer services representatives and administration.
4. How would you describe your team?
We have a diverse, engaged workforce. Since we developed our mission statement, we have all banded together behind that vision and we are so proud of our people. We have a minimum of 50 people on site working our front lines, receiving, and customer service that interact directly with our customers and they have really made a difference in how we interact with our partners. We did a study last year on our retention rates and were pleased to have a low 7.25% turnover rate. Big companies in the U.S. can typically see 95% turnover, so we are very happy with the environment that we have created here for our employees and in the strength of our workforce.
5. What makes your company unique?
We are very focused on what we do and take pride in our work. Our mission, vision, drive and engagement set us apart. There is a paradigm shift when you view the client as a partner rather than a customer. For each case we look at how we can help their company be better, which in turn makes us better, and that is central to our vision.
6. What did you look for in a city when you were looking to set up your business?
Our company started out in Smiths Falls and in 1984 we branched out to Ottawa. We had concerns that we didn’t have a big enough manufacturing base to draw from to remain sustainable long-term.
“Brockville had and still has a good range of industry which allows us to have more stability in our business and has allowed us to grow over the years. Being located along the 401 highway halfway between Toronto and Montreal, close to the USA with two nearby crossings, Brockville was the ideal location for us."
- Terry Wills
7. What other factors weighed in on your decision?
When we first came to Brockville, we purchased a building on Central Avenue which we were able to get a good deal on. We have had good success attracting a strong labour force here which has allowed us to thrive.
8. What is something most people don’t know about your industry?
I think that when people think about warehousing and trucking, they picture trucks and forklifts, but what we do goes far beyond that. We manage inventory, work with our customer's suppliers, and manage material flows and data for our clients and a lot more. We look at all the pieces that have to come together to create an efficient process, and that is what creates a true partnership.
9. Is there anything you would like to highlight about your business
For the last two years we are proud to have been selected as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.
“The companies that make it onto this prestigious ranking are large and small, and come from many different industries, but they always share one trait: a tireless focus on their people."
- Canadian Business
We have career opportunities available here and we are often looking to hire material handlers and customer service people. We offer solid, full time work with a pension plan and medical; a great opportunity for a young person to enter the workforce and get their life established.
10. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your business?
The biggest single factor to be able to continue to grow is maintaining our investment in our IT resources. Unless to you can talk to the big guys and have data exchanged effectively and securely, you can’t work with the bigger customers. We are continually investing in IT and training to keep on the curve.
11. What is next for your company?
We are looking forward to continued growth in Eastern Ontario.
12. What is your favourite part about living and working in Brockville?
The traffic in the city! The traffic in Brockville is minimal and it is really easy to get around but is big enough to have everything you need.
13. What would you say is the “best kept secret” about Brockville?
Being in the 1000 Islands we get to experience the stunning geography of the region year round.
14. How do you stay involved in the community?
We support local charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Brockville General Hospital, food kitchen and other fundraisers, as well as sponsoring local kids’ sports teams. We support the children of our employees in their endeavors in order to give back to our employees as well as the local community.
15. What would you tell other people who are considering setting up their business in Brockville?
Come check it out! I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Contact Wills Transfer:
Find out more about Wills Transfer on their website
Address: 2210 Parkedale Avenue, Brockville ON K6V 5V2
Click here to contact the Economic Development Office at the City of Brockville
or call 613-342-8772 x4440 for more information.
Engage with the local business community online: