Thursday, September 20, 2018Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Dominion Warehousing

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Business you can bank on

Dominion Warehousing is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned company that operates over 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space. Located in Toronto and Calgary—the central and western hubs for product supply, respectively—Dominion provides inventory management, warehousing and distribution for many companies, including Fortune 500 companies. Some of their clients include Coke Corp., Coca Cola Bottling, Sherwin Williams, GE, WD40 Canada, Ocean Fisheries, and RONA, to name a few. As you can tell, Dominion works with companies in a variety of sectors, such as manufacturing, consumer goods, food, specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Bob Dineen is the founder and currently the President and General Manager of the business. Under him are about 200 associates who manage the third-party logistics (3PL) business activities for over 100 clients. Processing thousands of transactions per day, Dineen and his team demonstrate the highest level of quality and attention to detail.

Using state-of-the-art management systems and road transportation systems, Dominion manages inventory accuracy of hundreds of millions of products on behalf of their clients.

Quality across the board
Dominion sets itself apart in a few ways, but perhaps the most noteworthy is its quality management system that caters to all clients, big or small. “Our system provides a minimum standard for all processes and controls throughout the entire organization that focus on safety, security, quality, product care and custody,” says Dineen.

A lot of 3PL companies are dedicated to certain clients and their operations are usually developed specifically for one client’s requirements—it’s a great feature if you’re the preferred client, but if you’re not, your company isn’t getting a fair shake.

“Here, we take it a step further,” says Dineen. “For all 100 clients, we have one management system. Every client fits in to our minimum quality standard. While we will cater to individual client needs, Dominion is not dedicated to any one company. Our facilities and infrastructure are shared amongst everyone.”

Dominion’s standards are what dictate the quality of what they achieve everyday, which is why they believe customers trust them with millions of dollars worth of inventory. “You can’t have two standards of quality and marry them in one public environment,” Dineen reasons. “The only way to make everything flow is to use the highest standard as a common denominator.”

Another way Dominion sets the warehousing bar is by absorbing all risks. “Our clients benefit from reduced supply chain spending, reduced facility and equipment costs, eliminated employee risk while also reducing capital investment in those areas,” says Dineen. “We accept and manage those risks and costs entirely by ourselves. As an example, with over 1.5 million square feet of infrastructure—including staffing, equipment, building security, insurance, regulatory systems, building repair and maintenance—we never require our client’s long term commitment.”

“Regardless of the size of their requirements, we incur all of the risk and this sets us apart from the competition. We know other companies are looking for a guarantee. Ours is a shared pool of asset and infrastructure. Even if clients need a 250,000 square feet, they can go up and down on a monthly basis.”

Building a niche
While Dominion does work for clients across various industries, one of the niches they have is in speciality chemicals. In fact, they are the largest specialty chemical 3PL provider in Canada. “Our clients are the who’s who in the specialty chemical distributors industry,” Dineen laughs.

With this responsibility comes the need to comply with a whole other set of regulatory requirements, something Dominion has mastered over the years. “We have F1-rated building construction, special density fire suppression systems and ongoing staff training that deals with all of the laws and regulations required to store and handle these products. We have the infrastructure in place, which is why we stand out in that area.”

Of course, Dominion also has to meet up to all regulations that come with other clients’ respective sectors.

Staying safe
Working in a warehouse requires a conscious effort to maintain a safe workplace.

“Safety is job one here,” Dineen says. “All new hires have to go through a rigorous indoctrination process that’s focused on safety and security training. We’re entrusted with other companies’ products to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, so security and safety are paramount. We also have safety teams that meet monthly to identify potential risks inside the company, after which they make recommendations to eliminate those risks. We have fire safety and evacuation plans and everyone knows the procedures.”

“All operators are certified to use the equipment they’re using,” he goes on. “Certification is ongoing. We have even received the Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario award for safety for four consecutive years for having an incident record that was 25 per cent below the industry standard. We take safety very seriously.”

Managed from the ground up
In addition to quality and safety, Dineen is happy with the work environment he and his team have fostered for 20 years. “Our hands-on management team cares about the long-term relationships we have developed with our employees,” he says. 

“We manage the business from the ground up,” Dineen adds. “There is no chain of command from the top-down at Dominion. We believe the smartest associates are the ones on the ground floor doing the job day in and day out. The management group listens to them before making any key decisions.”

Dominion also provides an equal opportunity for advancement. In fact, many of the people who started on the floor years ago are now in senior positions in the company. The current VP of National Operations, for example, used to be a warehouse operator. “A lot of the original associates are still here today and working fulltime,” Dineen says. “Some are well into their seventies and showing no signs of retirement. It’s a fun place to work.”

Evolution in warehousing
The logistics industry has changed significantly over Dominion’s 20-year history. Finding ways for companies to trim their warehousing and distribution costs by outsourcing is the fundamental reason for the company’s success. When you specialise like Dominion does, the net result is better and more cost effective for customers.

"While companies have worked to reduce or eliminate redundant manufacturing distribution sites, our industry has benefitted from getting goods to market,” says Dineen. “Companies can now focus on core competencies and let the experts in the outsource logistics field handle their warehousing and distribution. I believe this sort of thing will continue, because people keep looking for ways to reduce seams in the supply chain. It’s everyone’s goal.”

“Twenty-five years ago, companies would outsource inventory as an option in a peak period overflow situation,” Dineen adds. “Now it’s their first choice. A lot of our clients don’t even have inventory holdings in Canada; we are it. It is proven that outsourcing warehousing and distribution to us will save from 10 to 20 per cent of operational costs, so it’s top of mind now. Those are some significant changes.”

Looking ahead, Dominion Warehousing wants to continue to stay ahead of the changing landscape and demands of logistics industry. “After huge transformations, our goal now is to get settled,” says Dineen.

“We’re not focusing on growing infrastructure so much as staying on top of the changes and client demand through effective technology,” he continues. “Rather than go out and get more buildings, we want to store smarter and get into different warehousing equipment that enables us to be efficient with what we have. Dominion grew 35 per cent over the past year. It’s time to cool our jets and focus internally and how to get better and faster.”

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