A homegrown success story that has become the ‘go to’ supplier of steel roof truss hardware for much of Canada and beyond, MiTek has now moved into its new, state-of-the art 230,000 square foot facility in the BWG Highway 400 Employment Lands, becoming one of the major anchors of the community’s burgeoning manufacturing/warehousing sector.
“The majority of it, essentially 200,000 square feet is for the production and warehousing area, and in that area, we produce the structural components for the building industry that we have kind of become known for, specifically our core product, which is the connector plates used in holding wooden roof trusses together,” explained Justin Neil, vice-president Operations for MiTek, adding that the remaining spaces are set aside for offices as it is the company headquarters. The company also has distribution warehouses in Surrey, B.C.; Calgary, Alberta; Laval, Quebec and a smaller facility in Dieppe, New Brunswick.
“What this expansion has allowed us to do is bring all the work from our former facility in Thornhill here under one roof, which has really helped with making the production process more efficient. The product we brought up from Thornhill are primarily joist hangers and deck hardware, which are the kind of things you would more likely find in a retail store.”
The quality and reliability of the products devised and made by MiTek have helped to build their reputation as one of the best in the construction hardware business – a reputation that goes back six decades and a steady growth in business, workforce and the size of their facility. Currently, approximately 150 people are employed there, including manufacturing, administrative and sales staff.
But what truly sets the firm apart is the accompanying software and service that they can offer customers who want more control over the design of the products and also the increased efficiency from having designer and manufacturer all under one roof.
“The product that we make is linked to our customers through our software. We have a very powerful software suite that our customers can use to make their lives a lot easier in terms of getting their products to market. So, we have a large software and IT department because of that. Even though we are manufacturers in that we stamp and fabricate these steel products, it has a very sophisticated marketing, sales and operations process. In many ways MiTek is a very traditional company but with a significant high-tech component that is key to our success,” said Neil.
“Our customers are mostly in Canada, from coast to coast, and most have been with us for a long time, although some of them have clients in the U.S. The majority of their work is manufacturing roof trusses and these trusses are normally designed by a professional engineer. We provide our customers with software that does that design work for them, with our team supplying the support they need during that part of the process.”
Word of mouth has been a large factor in MiTek’s growth, but Neil affirmed that they don’t take it for granted and employ a dynamic sales team to keep adding to the roster of customers.
“We have a great sales force and active marketing team, and we do go to trade shows and things like that. It’s a pretty narrow market in some senses in that our products are sold to manufacturers who specifically make roof trusses and that’s just all they do, that’s their focus. There are only two or three players in the marketplace doing what we do, so these companies know that we are one of them,” he said.
As the factory opened, more and more workers were brought in to work the lines with a second shift and new production line added over the summer of 2021. Job fairs were organized for the early fall to continue to take advantage of the excellent local job market.
“We have more than doubled the size of the manufacturing team since we broke ground here and we keep growing,” said Neil.
MiTek also holds an additional 100,000 square feet of land adjacent to the current building which is earmarked for future expansion.
As for working with the BWG Economic Development team, Neil went on to also extol the virtues of being located in Bradford West Gwillimbury, and more specifically the 400 Employment Lands.
“First of all, our plant and warehouse have amazing exposure from the 400 and great access to our customers because of being so close to that highway. And Bradford is a very good community from which to recruit. It has a long manufacturing background. It has the skilled tradespeople and workers and is a very good place to set up and operate a manufacturing facility. Almost all our employees come from Bradford and other nearby communities in Simcoe County,” he said.
“The Economic Development staff have been very helpful in assisting us through the entire building process. Constructing a 230,000 square foot building in the middle of COVID was full of challenges as well, but they worked very closely with us. When we ran into issues, they did their best to help us work through those issues. They are a very understanding group. In terms of employment, we recently reached out for assistance from them in helping attract more skilled employees and they have provided us contacts with a number of local agencies as well as the best contacts for getting the message out through local media.”