There’s nothing like a supply-chain issue to turn even the most confident leader into a bundle of nerves. Over the past year, companies in a variety of industries have had to deal with mandatory lockdowns and physical-distancing logistics, but inventory problems hit both small and mid-size companies in ways that few could have predicted.
For turf and irrigation equipment distributor Turf Care Products Canada, the ability to pivot fast helped it avoid the logistical headaches that plagued competitors and reinforced why it’s still one of the best in the country. “One of the strategies that served Turf Care well in getting back up to speed quickly when things started to open up was the foresight to safeguard against future supply-chain delays,” explains president Tim Trimper. “A commitment to take on more inventory much earlier than we normally would have allowed us to minimize disruption of service and maintain product-fill rates for customers.”
While Turf Care specializes in lawn care equipment, irrigation maintenance and parts distribution, it has also learned how to apply its knowledge of inventory management to other areas of the business. In November 2020, the company launched a new e-commerce platform that provides customers with 24-7 access to online ordering of thousands of landscaping and irrigation parts and accessories.
“The pandemic forced us to look inward and do more with less resources,” says Trimper. “Without a pandemic playbook, we were forced to think outside the box and we’ve been successful in doing that.” In addition to maintaining uninterrupted service and launching its e-commerce platform, Turf Care’s 2020 wins include expanding its operations to a new warehouse in Keswick, Ont.
Turf Care’s stronghold in the market has grown by leaps and bounds since the company started in 1975, when it operated out of a single office in Markham, Ont., with a staff of 20. Since then, it transitioned into a 160-employee set-up with seven offices and warehouses in Ontario and Quebec, and it now serves approximately 2,500 clients across the country each year.
Managing the employee-employer relationship is an ingredient in Turf Care’s secret sauce for staying ahead of the competition. The company promotes from within its ranks and creates a strong workplace culture facilitated by social events, like barbecues, and supporting employee-led charitable initiatives.
“We have many long-tenured employees,” says Trimper. “Many staff started working with us in the warehouse as summer students and went on to learn different aspects of the business and move into leadership roles.”