Ontario’s manufacturing growth boosts cross-border trucking

| Jul 18, 2014 1:38PM EDT

Manufacturing growth in Canada’s central province of Ontario is boosting freight traffic with the U.S. and increasing demand for faster cross-border trucking service.

Manufacturing sales in Ontario grew 3.3 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, as exports of parts, consumer goods and machinery increased, according to the Royal Bank of Canada.

“Sustained export momentum despite the elements (in the first quarter) bodes well for stronger advances in the rest of this year,” the RBC said in its June 2014 economic report.

That momentum is apparent to Averitt Express, which this week reduced less-than-truckload transit times between the U.S. Midwest and Toronto and other key cities in Ontario.

“It’s become more important to our customers that we provide improved service to the province of Ontario,” said Phil Pierce, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Averitt. “The Midwest-to-Ontario lanes are vital parts of many of our customers’ business plans.”

Working with Reliance Network partner Canadian Freightways, Averitt is now moving LTL shipments between Chicago and Toronto in a single business day, Pierce said.

Averitt also shortened LTL transit times for freight shipped from Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis terminals to Ottawa, Kingston and London, Ontario to two business days.

Although Ontario isn’t the manufacturing center it once was, it is leading a recovery in Canadian manufacturing, accounting for two-thirds of Canada’s manufacturing sales gains in May.

Manufacturing sales in the province rose 2.3 percent in May to $24.1 billion, their highest level since July 2008 and the fourth straight monthly increase, Statistics Canada said.

Most of that gain in May came from automotive manufacturing, which is largely a cross-border business linking suppliers and manufacturers in Ontario and the U.S. Midwest.

U.S. imports from Canada by truck increased 6.3 percent in April and 7.4 percent in March, after rising 1.6 percent in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com and follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc.