Vins Plastics: A Canadian and Business Aviation Success Story
Business aviation works for Canada, and Vins Plastics is an outstanding example of how and why business aviation matters in every region of the country.
Running a successful Canadian family-owned business in a globally competitive environment takes smarts, dedication and planning. Vins Plastics, a family-owned second generation business in Bradford, Ontario has one more advantage: its own corporate aircraft.
Vins specializes in providing sophisticated flexible packaging materials to a wide range of clients, including to the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and explosives sectors. “We have considerable competition in Mexico, the EU and Asia” said Jamie Vins, company CEO and CBAA board member. “We have to be very efficient and do things better and faster. Our quality has to be superior, and we have to accomplish more with fewer employees, and that means a heavy investment in technology, processes, equipment and computerization. In order to serve our customers and seek out technical advantages, we use our own aircraft”.
Vins’ Piper Malibu Meridian single engine turbine is the third in a line of company aircraft. Each aircraft has progressed with better speed and range, allowing Vins to expand its ability to serve customers, and allow managers to return back to their HQ in good time. “Our managers are an investment in the company that we don’t want to waste. They are our advantage, and if they’re stuck in an airport, it does nothing for our business.”
The flexibility of having an aircraft gives Vins an enviable level of control over its business environment – and even over the environment itself. “If you don’t like the weather, it’s your choice to fly, not the carriers’. We won’t get stuck in an airport for days waiting for a flight – we simply wouldn’t go.” Even if the weather is fair, there are many other reasons to board their own plane “We can go to Montreal, continue to Quebec City and return to Toronto for the evening, and be able to deal with issues that happened during the day. Try to do that with Pearson – it takes us an hour to get to the airport, and then deal with security, get on the plane – and that’s just to go to one destination. It’s even worse if you have to go through a hub.”
Jamie, a pilot of 30-years standing, handles all the flight operations and logistics himself, and acknowledges that it takes a lot of work “Each flight starts a couple of days out” he explained. Yet, it is time well invested.
With the Meridian at the ready, Vins can provide a superior level of service and a clear advantage over its competitors, building a partnership with their clients that cannot be accomplished by phone or internet alone.
Clients are beginning to realize that seemingly low-cost, but distant suppliers can be very expensive in the long run. Vins relies on proximity and responsiveness to solve problems while they are still small and easy to fix.
“If there’s an issue, I can be there dealing with it face-to-face and walking the client through the process, looking at the equipment and making sure everything is correct. We build value and trust, and that leads to long term relationships with our customers.”
With commercial pressures to launch products more quickly and a variable product demand, Vins’ customers rely on the company to help them respond to their own marketplace needs. “I’ve seen clients whose product was listed in Loblaw’s Insiders Report have their demand double or triple overnight” Vins said “If they can’t get the packaging, they could lose that valuable shelf-space. We make sure that we partner with our customers and provide them with the packaging material quickly.”
The Meridian also allows Vins to acquire important business intel – a distinct advantage in a competitive market. “We can get into a trade show, check out the competition or fly in for a site inspection to talk to a hands-on operator and be out again quickly. We can accomplish in hours what would take days if we had to fly commercial.”
Vins’ success in the marketplace is bolstered by the advantage of a community-based, local workforce. Flying out of Buttonville, it does not need to be tethered to Toronto Pearson, and has been able to integrate itself within the Bradford community. It is a relationship that has been a great success both for Bradford and Vins.
“We located to Bradford because we couldn’t get the space we needed in our home town of Newmarket” said Vins. “Bradford was a farming community looking to diversify its economy from its agricultural and food packaging base. My father George started the business with 4,500 sq. ft and today we’re operating out of 80,000.”
Over the years, Vins has become a powerful economic enabler, providing long term employment and business opportunity for the town of some 25,000. As Bradford works to further diversify and create more opportunities to generate wealth, Vins Plastics stands out as a success story and example that other companies can follow.
An added benefit to both the community and to Vins is the ready source of labour. “We have 75 employees and no trouble attracting very high quality staff. Because we don’t have to locate to an area like Mississauga to be near a commercial airport, our employees are only 10 minutes away from work – not an hour and a half. Unlike some other companies, our employees can live and work in the same community. That makes for less stress, lower costs and a happier, more productive workforce.”
Enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Bradford is an important part of Vins’ commitment to their community and managers and employees alike are active participants in the life of Bradford, including supporting a number of historical and cultural programs and initiatives.
Vins Plastics is an exceptional example of corporate and community leadership. That leadership now extends to the CBAA, with Jamie as an active member of the board, providing a key perspective from the point of view of single aircraft operators. Jamie’s commitment to bettering the business aviation operating environment for small operators will help ensure that their needs, and their importance to their communities, will be heard.
Vins Plastics clearly demonstrates that a family-owned business can maintain its competitive edge in a corporate environment and make a real and positive contribution to the quality of life in a small community, because of the key advantages a corporate aircraft provides.