A Happy Quasquicentennial to Goodfellow Inc.
125 years is certainly a milestone. To reach that landmark, businesses must weather economic threats, pandemics, and other serious challenges. Among those Canadian companies celebrating over a century this year is Québec flooring distributor, Goodfellow Inc. The business celebrated their 125th anniversary this past January with parties across Canada for employees and suppliers and they intend to continue hosting festivities for the rest of the year. Goodfellow is a leading wholesale distributor of flooring, lumber, and building solutions in the commercial, industrial, and manufacturing industries. With over 650 associates across the country and $600 million in annual revenues, the Goodfellow team believes they have a great deal to celebrate.
“We want to celebrate with our employees and shake off the effects of the pandemic and get back to having those real relationships with our customers. We’re going to get back to that in August and also with our suppliers. So again, sort of reinforcing our relationships with the suppliers that are so important,” said Olivia Goodfellow, Director of Marketing and Communications. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Goodfellow was faced with similar issues that thousands of other Canadian businesses experienced. “Because we’re a distributor, we are very reliant on our supply chain as many companies are. But we were faced with a lot of shortages of our product. And we were also faced with labour shortages, not only internally, but with our suppliers and facing labor shortages. Later in the pandemic, I’d say in 2021 we faced a lot of logistical issues relating to backlogs cost of freights which made for very difficult conditions for the business,” she said.
Product Diversity is Goodfellow’s 2023 Priority
It was in the final year of the pandemic that the distributor saw a favourable shift and their challenges were replaced with victories. “We saw soaring demand for home renovation and for industrial and residential construction because they were some of the sectors that weren’t shut down. It was one of the first things that came back during the pandemic when government regulations and health regulations kicked in. The government wanted the construction sector to get back as quickly as possible. And so we were, as Goodfellow, flagged as an essential service,” explained Goodfellow.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Unsurprisingly, Goodfellow has also been impacted by the economy and the unpredictability of the sector like many other manufacturing companies.
“There’s still disruptions and I’d say market demand is still up and down. We’ve seen a slowdown for sure, and I think the effects of inflation and interest rate hikes are shaking consumer confidence or kind of keeping it at bay for now,” noted Goodfellow. “So we’re seeing the slowdown versus the last two years in terms of consumer demand, but it’s still relatively stable. What isn’t stable right now are the prices of products which is very volatile.”
Product diversity is on Goodfellow’s rating for 2023. The demand for products from consumers for industrial and commercial products is escalating. Olivia Goodfellow believes that diversifying those products could amplify that. “The demand for the different sectors is still kind of challenging us to be flexible and versatile and so we have to have a variety of products to meet the needs from lumber, building materials, customized products and complimentary products that they offer in those stores so we can fill that for them. And we have such a regular delivery route and a lot of customers, which means that the delivery times are really reasonable and quite aggressive for the industry. So, we can save money and time,” she said.
Covered Ice Rinks & Sustainable Schools
Some of the projects that the Goodfellow team has been most proud of are the covered ice rinks they provided wood floorboards for and wood beams for new schools in Québec. “Goodfellow has been contracted by some of the municipalities, mainly in Ontario and Québec at this point, to help architects and contractors with creating some beautiful spaces. So instead of concrete, instead of steel, these rinks are covered in wood. It’s very Canadian. It keeps the feel of the rinks and tells a nice story on a local level. Something of beauty” explained Goodfellow. A treasured activity is ice skating; however, recent winters haven’t allowed much opportunity to enjoy an outside skate, which is why indoor ice skating is ideal. The covered ice rinks that Goodfellow provided floorboards for are located in Carignan, Québec, Gore Meadows Ontario, St. Alexandre de Kamouraska, and Québec.
Sustainably made schools are the second project that brings Goodfellow great satisfaction. Olivia Goodfellow explains how “Québec in particular is leading the way in Canada through the construction of new schools using new sustainable materials and wood. Plus, with advanced technology like Blueland and our Goodland product, we’re able to provide beams that are as strong as concrete in the construction of these schools. And so, there are two or three elementary schools in Québec that we delivered and finalized this year. Also, for the health of the students, wood is a better alternative.” The schools that Goodfellow provided wood beams for are in Saint Cécile, Québec, St-Samuel-de-Horton, Québec, Longueuil, Québec and Toronto, Ontario.
As we’re just a few months into 2023 now, Goodfellow is just getting started on their celebrations, and preparing to make headway with their fresh projects, product diversification and advanced technology.
Ellie King is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine and weekly E-digest. She has years of experience in B2B writing and editing and is empowered by the opportunity to share the marvels, pitfalls and weekly news of Canada’s secondary wood industry with our readers.