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Feature on Stright-MacKay

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nova Scotia Business sat down with Peter Bennett, President of Stright-MacKay Ltd. to learn more about this recognized exporter and its business. Established in 1948, the firm is a leader in marine distribution and boating products, having started in boat building and servicing. After a changeover in 2001 to distribution and opening a warehouse in New Glasgow, the company is on its way to becoming the best in its industry. Here’s what Mr. Bennett had to say about Stright-MacKay’s presence in Nova Scotia and the future of the firm.

Q: Can you describe the success you’re seeing with the New Glasgow warehousing location?
A: We’re strictly in the distribution business. When we were in Pictou, we were doing actual marine work. We had a marina and we were actually looking after boats. When we decided to go full-time into distribution, we didn’t need to be near the water anymore; we needed to be near trucking.

So we’re strictly in the trucking business now. We built a new building and moved to New Glasgow late 2001. We’re just 1,000 feet from Highway 104, so it’s very easy for trucks to get in and out in a timely fashion.

Q: So, when moving from the marine industry over into warehousing and distribution, has there been a significant learning curve there? Was there ever an “ah-ha” moment?
A: The company was always distributing products. In Pictou, we were actually doing two things – we were doing the actual boat services and we were doing the distribution side of the business. We made a conscious decision to actually get rid of all the boat service business and stick strictly to the distribution business. So it really wasn’t an “ah-ha” moment, it was just a change of getting rid of those other elements and sticking with distribution.

It certainly took a long time to make that decision, as we wanted to make sure we were making the right move. It was a big move, but it was one that we consciously made and it was for the best.

Q: Was there any specific factor that caused the company to move in that direction?
A: Well, it’s the old 80/20 rule.Twenty percent of our business was 80 percent of our profit, and that was in the distribution business, not in the marine service side. There was more potential for growth and more profitability in the distribution side.

Q: What aspect of technology do you anticipate having the biggest impact in the business?
A: Oh, just about all of it. Distribution systems, logistic systems, right down to apps for smartphones for customers to get information and for marketing purposes. We’re doing our best to embrace all of that. That’s where the future’s going to be.

Q: Have you made any steps forward or made any major advances in the last year?
A: We are very frequently making system upgrades to our internal systems and our external-facing operations, like our business-to-business purchasing and our website. In the last year we made quite a large investment in a new internal freight system. But we’re constantly upgrading the smaller stuff as well.. We’ve had upgrades to our inventory control system and we’re making some kind of improvement all the time.

With more than 65 years of excellence, the business is truly setting itself apart from the competition in boating and maritime endeavors. For more information about Stright-MacKay and its dynamic opportunities, check out its website at Stright-MacKay.com.

This growing business received a 2013 Outstanding Exporter Award from the Pictou Chamber of Commerce. In addition to this accomplishment, Stright-MayKay received a 2014 Nova Scotia Export Achievement Award for its success.

Learn more about exporting outside of Nova Scotia, and the programs and services available.

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