George Pitsikoulis, president of Montreal-based Canadawide, always knew his employees cared about the family-run company.
On the weekend of Aug. 18, they proved their loyalty 1,000 times over.
After one last busy Saturday in the old building, the entire staff joined in the move to Canadawide’s new building 400 yards to the west and two years in the making.
“The transition was almost seamless,” Pitsikoulis said.
“By Sunday morning we were all in here, and by midnight the showroom was set up and the computer systems were up and running.”
The facility consolidates Canadawide’s three previous locations and gives the company room to grow, he said.
“Having everyone under one roof has made our operation much more efficient,” he said.
“It’s a more enjoyable environment for everyone, from the people working in the offices to those working in the warehouses.”
The building also provides space to expand the Frescadel packaging line, which now includes tree fruit and grapes in a plastic basket with handle and lid.
The energy required to heat and cool the new building is minimal compared to Canadwide’s previous locations, Pitsikoulis said.
Because the packing lines, warehouse and showroom are Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point certified, customers and staff need to learn a new set of rules to maintain food safety.
“It’s not a simple thing to get clients used to how things need to work in a HACCP facility so they can come in and shop at will,” he said.
Before anyone moves from the showroom to the warehouse, for example, they have to sign in and put on a jacket that identifies them as a visitor.
There’s no eating or drinking in the showroom, but there is a separate cafe.
To highlight the growing importance of organics, Pitsikoulis said the company’s organic produce is displayed in a single area that encompasses three temperature zones.
“It makes it much easier for customers of organics to see everything in one location,” he said.
Pitsikoulis said he’s glad the building process is behind him so he can once again focus on produce rather than mortar and windows.