Volume 9 | Issue 1 | Year 2006

Customers and suppliers of Canada Colors and Chemicals have had many glowing remarks for the company through the years. “Excellent; a class act; great salespeople; exceptional emergency response plan; a multifaceted distributor; timely, accurate deliveries.”

The reason is simple: Canada Colors and Chemicals’ market knowledge, extensive product lines, technical expertise and innovative, value-added chemicals and services have helped it develop strong, productive relationships with both suppliers and customers. These are relationships that have helped it become a leader in its industry and help those customers and suppliers pull ahead of their competitors.

“One of the keys to our longevity and success is the privilege we have had throughout our 85-year history to seek out, represent and distribute products for so many of the premier chemical producers in the U.S. and Canada,” says Dharold Read, General Manager of Industrial Chemicals and Logistics for Canada Colors and Chemicals. “These have been the leading-edge suppliers and producers of chemicals and so many innovative products that our customers have come to rely on and use in their processes or as key raw material components of their own end products brought to market.”

Survival Instinct

In 1920, Canada Colors and Chemicals made its very first delivery to its first customer. Since then it has survived the Great Depression, a world war, many recessions, industry consolidation, supply chain rationalization and stringent regulatory demands, but through it all, the company has prospered. Since R.R. Carr-Harris founded Canada Colors and Chemicals some eight decades ago, the company has grown to one of the largest Canadian-owned distributors of commodity and specialty chemicals in Canada and the sixth largest in North America with over $350 million in annual sales.

Canada Color and Chemicals’ product base has broadened to include 200 chemical suppliers, more than 5,000 products, and six strategic business units. It supplies specialty and commodity chemicals to virtually every industrial and manufacturing sector, including automotive, paints and inks, adhesives, soaps and detergents, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, mining, pulp and paper, oil and gas, soil remediation and water treatment.


The company operates eight warehouses and distribution facilities at strategic locations coast-to-coast and operates it own fleet of dedicated trucks. Most of its customers order just in time for their use and require next day delivery. “We are a leader in operating and logistical excellence and this adds value that our customers acknowledge as important. We don’t just deliver product, we understand customer needs and provide solutions,” says Read.

The company’s Leduc site, located in central Alberta, opened in 1998. The facility has gone through a number of expansions with the latest investment bringing the plant’s size up to 29,000 square feet. The facility provides a full offering of industrial and specialty chemicals and blending services to a wide range of industries as well as toll blending services for oilfield chemicals.

Its Windsor, Ontario facility across the river from Detroit is primarily a storage and distribution facility with 7,000 square feet of drum storage and 5,000 square feet of neighboring third party dry goods storage. It is the only major chemical distributor with a site in Windsor, which helps it serve local customers with consistency.

The company’s west coast Delta, British Columbia facility services the Metropolitan Vancouver area. This site has a 160,000-liter bulk liquids tank farm, a dry bulk transfer and packaging facility, 25,000 square feet of warehouse space, a 4,500-liter blending tank, loading docks and its own delivery vehicles.

At 160,000 square feet, its Brampton, Ontario complex serving the greater Toronto area is the largest in Canada Colors and Chemicals’ network. The site consists of two buildings, an industrial products warehouse and a fine chemical storage and USP liquid packaging operation. Its impressive display of shipping, receiving, storage and transportation facilities ensures products are delivered on time. Brampton also has 38 bulk tanks on site, seven railcar unloading docks for liquids, two bulk scales for bulk dry and liquid chemical, 20-rail car capacity for dry packaging and transloading, and two high capacity transloaders for dry chemical products.

The Montreal, Quebec facility is the second largest in the Canada Colors and Chemicals’ distribution network. Its St. Laurent site contains a 58,000-square-foot warehouse with 10 loading docks, a drumming facility and a flammable product warehouse. The 250,000-gallon solvent tank farm comprises 21 solvent storage tanks and four corrosives storage tanks.

Sulco Chemicals Ltd., part of the Canada Colors and Chemicals group of companies, manufactures sulphuric acid, fuming sulphuric acid (oleum) and sodium bisulphite, which are used in diverse applications such as car batteries, steel production and water treatment. This plant is situated on four acres in Elmira, Ontario. The site consists of the main sulphuric acid and sodium bisulphite plants as well as a separate corrosives packaging building and an office building. Manufactured products are stored on-site using seven tanks with capacities ranging from 50 metric tons to several of 1,000 metric tons. A variety of corrosives, including hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid and a number of other acids and bases are packaged at this location from on-site storage and fed into their distribution network.

Canada Colors’ North American coverage is enhanced by its founding membership in Omni-Chem 136, an alliance of 15 quality independent chemical distributors strategically located across the USA. Information and best practices are shared with each other and benefits from that expertise are passed on to suppliers and customers. The Omni-Chem Alliance allows Canada Colors and its partners to act with regional excellence and still work with firms who need to operate globally.

Customer, Health, Safety

To continually improve customer service, Canada Colors and Chemicals launched a number of programs. The Quest for Excellence program strengthens its internal working relationships and thereby better enables it to meet or exceed external customers’ expectations. Because the business of chemicals is a complicated knowledge based one, Canada Colors and Chemicals’ salespeople and technical solutions specialists hold university degrees in chemistry and engineering. They are the link between its chemical suppliers and customers that use their products.

But customer service is only one of the cornerstones upon which the company’s success is based. The others are Responsible Care, community awareness, health and safety and transportation. Canada Colors and Chemicals is one of the original signatories of the Responsible Care(r) protocol and the first company in the world to pilot the Phase I verification process with the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA). Canada Colors and Chemicals works to continuously improve the health, safety and environmental performance of its products and processes and so contribute to the sustainable development of local communities in which it operates as well as protect the wellbeing of its employees.

Colorful Future

Canada Colors and Chemicals spent last year celebrating its 85th anniversary and key individuals made site visits to all its locations across Canada where they’ve met with customers and suppliers alike. And at this time, it has taken time to reflect on its success. “It’s really a three-fold focus we embrace,” says Read. “We try to look for a win-win-win scenario every time – a win for our customer, a win for our supplier and a win for us. If we can get to know our customers well enough we can turn any situation into mutual success.”

And it is market demand and the constant need to innovate that keeps customers and suppliers coming back to Canada Colors and Chemicals. As Read explains, “Our ability to address these issues through our breadth of market knowledge, customer intimacy, supplier support and creativity, and our own logistical and operational excellence has put us on a path for prosperity for most of our history and should continue well into the future.”