When Wolfgang Schroeter started a small steel fabrication business in Barrie in 1976, he never dreamed he would one day open a 270,000-square-foot logistics centre to service his customers across Canada and in 27 other countries from Dubai to Australia.
The new Napoleon Group of Companies logistics centre in Oro-Medonte, just north of Barrie, consolidates distribution operations for the company with the goal of 24-hour delivery of products in its three core divisions: grill, hearth and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
While Schroeter didn't foresee the new centre, he told about 200 people gathered for the official opening that he always had a goal, and when he reached that goal, he would set another one.
The Financial Post, which named Napoleon to its list of Canada's Best Managed Companies, says the family-owned company now is North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of quality wood and gas fireplaces, gourmet gas and charcoal grills, outdoor living products and heating and cooling products, as well as the only gas furnace maker in Canada.
Napoleon employs more than 1,000 people; 150 new associates were added this year as a result of growth in the business.
"Just over two years ago, we set out a plan to double the business," said Ron McArthur, president of Napoleon. "After 18 months, we are ahead of plan."
The new logistics centre was designed by Barrie architect Ted Handy, and is the largest building his company has done.
It had to be big enough to handle the central distribution function for Napoleon, yet still deal with constraints on the site — land grades, a berm and a floodplain to the south end. It also works to protect areas of Willow Creek, to the south.
Despite its massive size, the finished building, which sits back from Highway 11 at Penetanguishine Road, behind the Napoleon showroom, was designed so it is "not imposing in any way," Handy said.
Cutting the ribbon to open the new Napoleon Logistics Centre: Mayor Harry Hughes, Oro Medonte; Jane Dunlop on behalf of Garfield Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North; Ron McArthur, President, Napoleon Group of Companies; Ann Hoggarth, MPP for Barrie; Wolfgang Schroeter, CEO, Napoleon Group of Companies; Napoleon; Ingrid Schroeter, CFO, Napoleon Group of Companies; Mayor Jeff Lehman, Barrie; Alex Nuttall on behalf of both Patrick Brown, MP for Barrie and Bruce Stanton, MP for Simcoe North; Chris Schroeter, Senior Vice President – Operations, Napoleon Group of Companies; Stephen Schroeter, Senior Vice President – Sales, Marketing & Administration, Napoleon Group of Companies. Photos courtesy of Napoleon Group of Companies.