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HyLife's success is Westco's gain

Warehouse must expand to store pork

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The Westco plant at 1555 Chevrier Blvd. will be expanded to handle an increase in  frozen-pork shipments from HyLife Ltd., a hog-processing company in Neepawa.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Westco plant at 1555 Chevrier Blvd. will be expanded to handle an increase in frozen-pork shipments from HyLife Ltd., a hog-processing company in Neepawa. Photo Store

IT hasn't taken long for a Quebec company to begin putting its mark on a local warehousing and logistics operation it acquired earlier this year.

Cong©bec Logistics Inc. announced Thursday it's undertaking a $6-million renovation of a massive multi-temperature warehouse/distribution centre it acquired in February as part of the $52-million purchase of Westco MultiTemp Distribution Centres Inc.

The renovations to the Westco facility at 1555 Chevrier Blvd. will see Westco convert about 40,000 square feet of ambient storage space in the warehouse into freezer space to accommodate the pending increase in frozen-pork shipments it will handle on behalf of HyLife Ltd., the LaBroquerie-based firm that operates a hog-processing plant in Neepawa.

"This agreement reflects a true partnership for growth with our customers and will allow HyLife to increase its pork production," Cong©bec president Laurier Pedneault said in a written statement.

Pedneault and Ron Schellenberg, HyLife's vice-president of transportation logistics, said HyLife needed to find someone else to handle some of its frozen-pork shipments because of the recent closure of the century-old Versacold Logistics Services warehouse on Jarvis Avenue.

Schellenberg said Westco had already been handling some frozen-pork shipments for HyLife, and Westco and Cong©bec officials were keen to fill the void created by the Versacold plant closure.

"We work very well with them, so it was also a natural progression for us," Schellenberg added.

He said the bulk of pork products Westco will handle are destined for Russia, China, Japan and Korea. The new arrangement will mean a roughly 30 per cent increase in the volume of work it handles for HyLife, he added, "so it's a nice bump."

Schellenberg said HyLife continues to ramp up production at its Neepawa plant, which it acquired in 2008. In the past five years, it has added a second production shift. Now, it's about to further boost production on the second shift, he added, "and (Westco's) new storage space will help accommodate that expansion."

Pedneault said the warehouse renovations should be completed in December. To handle the extra HyLife shipments, Westco will add another seven or eight workers this fall to the plant's 110-member workforce.

With the added cold-storage space, the plant's refrigeration operations will have the capacity to freeze eight additional containers, or an extra 400,000 pounds, of pork every day, Pedneault said: "In total, our Winnipeg facilities will ship 15 containers of pork daily around the globe."

Pedneault said the Westco warehouse was already one of the largest cold-storage warehouses in North America, and has been a great addition to Cong©bec's network of warehouse/distribution centres.

Prior to the Westco acquisition, which added four more centres to its existing network of eight, Cong©bec's operations were in Ontario and Quebec. With Westco, it added two facilities in Manitoba -- the second one is in Carberry -- and one each in Saskatoon and Calgary.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2013 B4

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Updated on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:54 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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