WITH FRONT-PORCH AND lobby deliveries providing not just goods but an element of hope and excitement during lockdowns, a London logistics company is expanding to a second location to handle demand.
For a decade, third-party logistics (3PL) business Drexel Industries has stored and shipped goods for a variety of online retailers — essentially the Amazon model for dozens of retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Best Buy, Canadian Tire and even Amazon itself.
It operates from a 300,000-square-foot space at 100 Kellogg Lane, former home of the cereal company. It is the creation of Jason Salmon, whose wife, Jennifer, is VP of business development and whose sister, Tara, is CFO.
“It started in my garage,” Salmon recalls. “I started as a wholesaler, selling to online retailers. We started by selling floor scrubbers, learned a lot and began to expand.”
From his garage, he moved to various self-storage spaces, then to an 8,000-square-foot facility, then to 35,000-square feet, then to his current space. Salmon’s landlord throughout has been E&E McLaughlin, so he knew where to turn when he realized he needed still more space.
“We started by selling floor scrubbers, learned a lot and began to expand” —Jason Salmon
Later this year, Drexel will open a second location on Wilton Grove Road. It has been home to auto parts maker Brose. “Brose is relocating this summer. In July, we can start renovations. We’ll have 150,000 square feet initially, but the site could handle an expansion of 350,000 square feet in the future.”
It’s a safe bet the company will need that extra space one day.
At Kellogg, the company has 20 shipping docks and a steady stream of trucks delivering goods and couriers picking up. Its primary courier is FedEx, “but we use them all. We’re one of the biggest local shippers.”
When someone scrolls through the Best Buy website late at night, settling on an espresso machine or laptop, Drexel is involved immediately. It receives an electronic data interchange (EDI), the language of e-commerce. Although the buyer gets emails and updates from Best Buy, it’s actually Drexel running the show, keeping the buyer updated on the delivery, retrieving it from a warehouse shelf, and sending it off to its destination as quickly as possible.
The company has both a VP of business intelligence in charge of I.T. and a separate EDI analyst, among many tech folks. There are about 90 employees in London, many of whom patrol the warehouse assembling orders. There’s another dozen or so in Toronto and Vancouver doing sales work. The company expects to hire about 20 people when it expands this summer.
Although its provisions of 3PL services has grown rapidly during the pandemic, it’s not the only thing Drexel does. It also sources products and sells them directly to retailers. That wholesale function slowed considerably when many stores closed or limited customer access in the last year. But it’s an area Salmon is confident will rebound post-pandemic.
“We’ve got two full-time product people looking for items retailers will want when we come out of this. We’re looking for table games and other things for inside the home. I think it will be like the Roaring Twenties, with people who have saved money getting out for holidays and shopping.”
If this summer’s expansion isn’t enough, Drexel is also aiming south of the border, dipping its toe in the massive market in the coming months. It will ship from here, taking advantage of an $800 exception for any taxes or duty. When volume increases, it plans to open a U.S. warehouse. Christopher Clark