As we continue to celebrate our 75th anniversary and look towards the future, it’s important to reflect on our past and where we have come including the changes we experienced and the challenges we overcame. During our first 25 years of business we experienced many facility expansions along with growing our number of employees. One thing that always remained the same during those years and continued over the next 23 years was our main focus on our customers.
From the early 1970’s until the mid-1970’s, we went through many facility expansions starting in 1972 when we began receiving return from aggressive pursuit of the overseas market. That led to acquiring an adjacent property to our Brantford facility adding 35,000 square feet of manufacturing space. During that time, we also started our Electrostatic Epoxy Powder Paint setup in Brantford which was the first automatic setup in North America!
From 1973 to 1976, the Brantford facility completed a 25,000 square foot pressroom which included the installation of two 400-ton presses in addition to acquiring another adjacent property adding a further 24,000 square feet of warehousing space bringing the Brantford plant to a total of 302,000 square feet. This wasn’t the size for long because in 1976 we added another 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space to the facility.
At the same time, Unifin’s London plant added 20,000 square feet of manufacturing space bringing that plant to a total of 78,000 square feet. Meanwhile, in Western Canada, we opened a sales office in Calgary, Alberta which brought our total staff to 707 employees.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, we underwent some pretty large company changes including buying Cardinal Development Corporation in Ohio in 1977. In 1979, the Odette Group Limited purchased the controlling block of shares of the company from the McMillen family. After that, the name of the company changed from KeepRite Products Limited to KeepRite Inc.
In 1980, KeepRite Inc. made the decision to purchase a second plant in Brantford, providing an additional 82,000 square feet of floor space. In 1981, Inter-City Gas Corporation of Winnipeg purchased the controlling block of KeepRite shares. During this same year we acquired ZoneAire Corporation of Johnson, City, Tenn.
In 1983, we made a big decision to buy two divisions from our parent company, Inter-City Gas Corporation, to add commercial and residential heating and ventilating equipment to our product lines. By 1984, we employed over 900 people.
From 1990 to 1993 KeepRite Refrigeration only continued to grow as we formed a business unit division under the Inter-City Products Corporation and moved production into a 25,000 square foot facility. After that, we moved into an existing 82,000 square foot manufacturing facility.
A lot happened during our first 50 years of business but wait until you hear what happened after 1993! Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series to hear all about it. Until then, be sure to enter our 75th anniversary throwback contest on Facebook for your chance to win a $75 Amazon gift card!