The Elmira business now known as Premier Equipment has seen many changes in its history. With a groundbreaking ceremony this week, the company’s embarked on yet another: setting the foundation for a new home in the community.In 2011 Premier Equipment Ltd. emerged as the result of a merger between Elmira Farm Service – operated out of the current Premier Equipment location on Church Street since 1955 – and AgriTurf Equipment Services. Fusing the two companies took precedence over a new building project, but now, with the Elmira location bursting at the seams, the move is a top priority.
Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony was a long time coming, as executives put ceremonial shovels to the ground that will soon house a new head office building at the corner of Church Street and Floradale Road.
“The business that we are doing in there is phenomenal, but the facility isn’t. We need to create more space to accommodate the work that’s being done,” said company CEO Brett Barriage.
Along with a new facility for the Elmira location, the building will house a head office for the entire company.
Premier Equipment has 10 locations across Ontario, including Ayr, Listowel and Tavistock. Farthest to the north is the location in Alliston; to the south is a location in Simcoe. The company is a full-service equipment dealership specializing in agriculture, lawn, commercial, specialized grounds-care and compact construction equipment.
Though the company’s locations are widespread, Elmira is relatively central to the entire operation, and brings in plenty of business from the surrounding community. That makes it the best candidate to house Premiere Equipment’s administrative and corporate offices, said Barriage.
“First of all, the Elmira store, when it was part of Elmira Farm Service, it was always the home base, the largest store, and it did the most business through there. Elmira is obviously a great agricultural area with a lot of diversity. From a geography standpoint it makes a lot of sense, too. Given where our 10 stores are, the Elmira store is fairly central,” he explained.
The building will be about a mile from the original location, currently at 122 Church St. W., and will house approximately 70 employees, though Barriage said those numbers may vary depending on how many staff members are at the facility for training or meetings.
With a company of about 260 employees and a management and administrative team scattered throughout Ontario, it is hoped that a central office will increase collaboration, organization and a sense of teamwork among the entire crew of workers, said Barriage.
“It takes a lot of organization and management to manage all of that. This will help us definitely and it sets us up for future growth.”
The site of the new facility has been held by the company for a few years. The current property will eventually become part of the sprawling Lunor subdivision on the west side of town.
“The new facility will be over 50,000 square feet, becoming a true flagship for Premier,” said marketing manager Ryan Hicks.
Though the company owns 60 acres of land on the property, only 16 acres will be used for the new facility, with the rest held for future building projects.
The facility will include a two-storey main building, approximately 6,000 sq. ft., with a main shop on the floor level and corporate offices on the second level. A second building of about 21,000 sq. ft. will house company equipment.
The extra room is long overdue, but the business changes were job-one for the last little while.
“It’s a case of priorities,” Barriage said. “The merger just a year-and-a-half ago took priority.”
With the merger-related changes now behind it, the company’s need for more space is now what gets top billing for the growing business.
“Definitely the company is doing really well. With the merger in 2011, this is really realizing what would make sense for the company.”
Premier Equipment hopes to be in its new home in about a year’s time, with the March or April 2014 opening coming in time for the 60th anniversary of the dealership that made it all possible to begin with.