Near Edmonton, on Highway 60 — just south of Highway 16A — a massive new building is hard to miss for anyone passing by.
“It was sizable, this investment,” says Blaine McPeak, the CEO of Champion Petfoods.
The investment is a 421,000-square-foot facility built from the ground up to accommodate the growth for the Edmonton-based company, which exports its products to more than 90 countries.
The NorthStar Kitchen, as it’s known, features three dry food production lines (Acana and Orijen dog and cat food) as well as a distribution warehouse and logistics centre, employing about 200 people.
Ground broke in the summer of 2017, with the facility near Enoch in the Acheson Industrial Area operational last fall.
“We also have such rich resources here with respect to suppliers, be that some of our proteins, our grains, our vegetables, what have you,” says McPeak, explaining why the company forged ahead with the expansion here.
The spinoffs of the expansion are felt across Alberta, with the facility sourcing ingredients from 14 provincial suppliers.
“We need to build upon that,” McPeak says.
Champion said it chose Parkland County because of its business-friendly focus and strong agricultural community. The new neighbour is welcomed in Parkland County, but is also seen as a big win for metro Edmonton.
“I think this demonstrates there’s tremendous opportunity in the region,” says Rod Shaigec, the mayor of Parkland County.
To attract further growth , Shaigec continues to push for an overpass at the CN mainline, which crosses Highway 60 between Highway 16A and Highway 16/the Yellowhead.
“That railway crossing can be blocked four times a day, sometimes upwards to 30 minutes,” Shaigec said, adding “that impacts the bottom line.”
Champion Petfoods is the country’s largest independent pet food manufacturer. Its newest facility is helping to feed more four-legged friends around the world.
“We have plenty of room for capacity here,” McPeak says. “And we have a big job ahead of us to fill that up and continue to employ more and more people.”