Ford Canada plans to close its massive parts distribution centre in Bramalea, Ont., and splitting the work currently done there between two new locations in facilities in eastern and western parts of the province.
“In order to improve customer satisfaction and expedite parts delivery time to dealers, Ford will be opening a new parts depot in Eastern Ontario and a new location west of Toronto to continue servicing Canada’s most heavily populated region,” Ford Canada spokeswoman Rose Pao told Automotive News Canada in an email. “As a result of the two new locations in Ontario, Ford will no longer operate out of the current Bramalea Parts Distribution Centre once the new locations open.”
The Bramalea National Parts Depot opened on Aug. 1, 1964, after operating in several other locations through the Greater Toronto Area beginning in the 1940s.
The Bramalea site is 900,000 square feet — or 83,600 square metres — in size and employs about 200 people, Pao said.
News of the closure comes as the Detroit Three and Unifor prepare for contract talks. Local bargaining, including with Unifor Local 584 in Bramalea, is already underway.
“We are currently at the collective bargaining table with Unifor. We will continue to have dialogue with Unifor on our plan, including employment-related details," Pao said when asked whether the current employees will be able to transfer.
When the facility opened in 1964, it took on 49 transfers from Windsor, Ont., according to the union’s website.
Ford Canada hasn’t yet decided on the location of the two new facilities.
“We are in the process of determining the new sites now, so it is too early to provide timing,” Pao said. “We anticipate this transition to take place over the next few years.”
Pao couldn’t say whether the new locations will be built from scratch or located in existing buildings.
Unifor Local 584 President Sandy Knight said that “for the most part, its a job transfer.”
“This is the message the union has been telling our members,” said Knight, who spent the day on the shop floor delivering the news.
Knight said morale is up.
Knight is a transfer from Windsor. She landed in Oakville in 2008 and then quickly transferred to Bramalea. Other employees transferred from Ford facilities in Montreal and St. Thomas, Ont., over the years. She said the news is a shock.
“But we’ve been through it. You can survive it,” she said. “Everyone has an opportunity to transfer.”
The company notified the union about the closure on Aug. 25, Knight said. But it hasn’t offered up a closing date or new locations. Knight said the facility in Bramalea will likely close during the lifetime of the next four-year contract, which is currently being hammered out between the Detroit Three and Unifor.
"It’s not happening tomorrow," Knight said. "So we all have time."