Cole-Munro’s big expansion
Geoff Cole, president of Cole-Munro Foods, stands at the site where the company’s new facility will be located in St. Thomas, near the intersection of Gaylord Road and Edward Street. The company processes rainbow trout/ steelhead.
A staple in Canada’s rainbow trout processing industry calls St. Thomas home and it’s set to expand in the city again.
“We are a processor of rainbow trout/steelhead that is grown in northern Ontario,” said president and co-owner Geoff Cole. “Basically, we’ve been in Port Stanley and St. Thomas area for 23 years and we are obviously growing and have been outgrowing our building for quite some time.”
Cole-Munro Foods recently started construction on its new facility on a 10 acre lot near the intersection of Gaylord Road and Edward Street. It will be, at 27,000 square feet, about three times the size of the current Cole-Munro building. It will include larger facilities for staff, a lunch room, office area and other amenities.
“It will also take advantage of state-of-the-art innovation, processing and wastewater treatment,” Cole said. “We’ll have more modern food processing facilities for the future as well.”
When work begins in the new plant it will be just over double the production capacity of the current facility.
Cole-Munro Foods started in Port Stanley as a small trout processing and distribution operation. The company moved to St. Thomas and has grown ever since and is now owned by Susan and Geoff Cole.
“We’ve been growing on the supply side for a few years. We’ve been on a little mission for growth,” Cole said.
Cole-Munro has over 50 employees who will be making the move alongside the company. Cole said they’ve been slowly expanding their workforce over the last number of years, but will still need to hire between 10 and 15 people once the new processing plant is up and ready.
“By the time this plant opens in the spring, early summer, we’ll probably be up 10 to 15 from beginning to at least the end of the year,” Cole said.
That’s not the end of growth for Cole-Munro. Cole said he hopes to continue the growth pattern the company has seen over the last several years.
“We’re also building this plant for future expansion. The current footprint is 27,000 square feet but it can be doubled up again with the way it’s laid out on the property,” Cole said.
As for the current facility, it will have new life as well. Cole said there are plans to keep the existing plant going but not as a trout processing plant.
“We’ve had some other inquiries for doing other things. I can’t really say what they are at the moment,” Cole said. “We are definitely keeping the old facility going … We’re going to do a partnership with a business probably in that location.”
Sean Dyke, general manager of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, said the fact that Cole-Munro choosing to expand in St. Thomas is a testament to the city.
They’re choosing St. Thomas because it’s the right place for them to be.” Sean Dyke, general manager, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
“They’re choosing St. Thomas because it’s the right place for them to be. They’ve had success here. Their employees have proven to be good employees for them. And for us, it gives us that level of confidence to go out and speak with other companies to say, ‘Hey, look we’ve got local companies expanding. They’re choosing to stay here, they’re choosing to grow here. Why not St. Thomas for you?’” Dyke said.
The design of the new Cole-Munro Foods facility in St. Thomas, which is set to be done in early spring 2018.