CE Franklin Oil and Gas Supply Warehouse is Canada's Largest

June 18, 2008

Edmonton Journal

CE Franklin's massive new distribution centre in the city's southeast transportation enclave is great for the oil-and-gas-supply company and a feather in the city's cap, operations manager Nan Mifflin says.

As the largest centre in the Canadian energy industry -- and 50-per-cent larger than its competitors -- the 153,000-square-foot building sends a strong signal to the outside world that Edmonton is a thriving distribution centre, she says.

"It showcases CE Franklin and the city, and hopefully will help attract other distribution centres. Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is excited because it fits in perfectly with their Port Alberta plans." Port Alberta envisions Edmonton as a gateway for cargo transportation using air, rail, and road infrastructure.

The centre, which has 26 doors and a loading dock with a five-tonne crane, services Franklin's 45 branches across Canada and is built to accommodate future growth, Mifflin says.

"You can't be reactive. You always have to be thinking ahead of the competition and your clients. "It's a really efficient facility, and this industry is all about getting parts out to the clients as quickly as possible."

Everything from half-inch stainless-steel balls to 30-inch valves the size of a car are ready to go immediately, and the eight-hectare site also accommodates the former separate pipe-distribution centre.

Moving to the new facility, which Franklin leases from Concert Properties, was a challenge, Mifflin says. But they managed to move $70-million worth of equipment in 231 truckloads in 72 hours with no inventory shutdown and not so much as a hangnail among staff. Now, that's efficiency.


The decline of Sherwood-Park based Tirecraft Group into receivership three years after David and John Cosco sold it to an investment group has surprised many. It was one of North America's largest tire retailers when it was bought in June 2005 by a group that included two pairs of Edmonton brothers, George and Ernie Votis and Martin and Roger Gouin. The Votis brothers made their name in the New York investment banking world, while the Gouins followed their father into Spruce Grove-based North American Construction Group.

George Votis and Martin Gouin were high school pals who kept in touch over the years, and the four teamed up to approach the Coscos about buying Tirecraft. George was the largest shareholder and chairman, while Ernie was vice-chairman. The Gouin brothers sat on the board.George recruited as president and CEO Jean-Michel Locarnini, a Swiss with no tire experience he had met in Zurich through the plastics business.

Locarnini left last fall when Tirecraft's financial problems were deepening and was replaced by Bill Teeple, another cohort of George's. Another company that George, whose Manhattan townhouse was featured in Architectural Digest, was involved in went bankrupt. The graduate of Tufts University and the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania was chairman and CEO of U.S.-based international plastics company Moll Industries when it collapsed in 2002. Ernie Votis and Bill Teeple were also listed as Moll executives at the time.

Industry observers said the economic downturn in the U.S. had something to do with the $451-million company's failure, but they also pointed to rapid expansion and expensive acquisitions. In documents filed with Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench April 15, Teeple cited ill-timed regional expansions and the acquisition of Quebec-based President's Tire as two key reasons for Tirecraft's collapse.

The Gouin brothers co-owned and ran North American Construction Group with father Jean Yvon until it was sold to an investment group for $400 million in 2003. In 2005, Jean Yvon's two daughters filed a lawsuit against Roger, Martin and their father, claiming they were cheated out of their fair share of the company sale proceeds.The suit eventually quietly went away.

One of the sisters happens to be married to Rexall Drugs and Oilers owner Daryl Katz. Jean Yvon, who founded the company in 1953, died late last year at 91.

The new NACG owners brought in Australian Rod Ruston as CEO in 2005 to turn around the underperforming company.


Heather Kennedy, assistant deputy minister responsible for oilsands development, is the speaker at the Economics Society of Northern Alberta lunch at the Petroleum Club Friday at 11:30 a.m. ... Six Alberta companies have been honoured by the Wild Rose Foundation for their workplace volunteerism and financial support of community causes. They are: Freewheel Cycle, Jasper; Realty Executives, Drayton Valley; Old Co-Op; Peace River Broadcasting; ConocoPhillips

Synodon Inc. received Energy TV's "Best Instrumentation Company" award for its realSens airborne gassensing technology's impact on reducing emissions and leaks in the hydrocarbon industry.

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