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Special Delivery: Surrey, BC, the Ultimate Destination for Logistics

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They say the holidays are the most wonderful time of year—and it’s also the busiest time for ecommerce. As shoppers flock online to buy gifts, retailers work around the clock to make sure orders arrive on time. But what happens behind the scenes to get those packages from the warehouse to the customer's doorstep? Surrey’s third-party logistics (3PL) companies are a critical part of the logistical balancing act that ensures Santa’s gifts are delivered on time. 

There is a reason high-profile 3PL’s choose to position themselves in Surrey. It’s the fact that we have some of the only available industrial land supply in Metro Vancouver or that we house two of Western Canada’s most important trade borders with the United States. It’s the fact that we’re near the most strategic shipping ports connecting North America with the rest of the world or the fact that we have three international airports within an hour’s drive.  

Whatever the reason, you can be sure that expanding into Surrey is a sure-fire way to de-risk your investments. With the holidays coming up, we wanted to highlight another example of a successful company that has flourished since making Surrey its center of operations in the Pacific Northwest.  

NRI 3PL is one of the fastest growing logistics companies in North America. They have rapidly expanded across North America since their founding in 1997, driven by the commitment to empower client success through technology and service excellence. We recently sat down with NRI's Talent Acquisition Manager Gary Toor and Assistant DC Manager Kimberly Olsen to discuss the company’s growth and how NRI drives success through a triple-threat of people, technology, and integration. 

NRI’s History – Canadian Roots Flourish Internationally

Founded in Canada in 1997 with just five employees, NRI has grown to become a leading North American provider with over 1,200 employees across over 2.5 million square feet of warehouse space. Major company milestones include expanding across Eastern and Western Canada in the late 1990s and early 2000s, launching their proprietary Aspire software suite in 2004, and opening their US operations in 2012. Named one of America's fastest growing companies in 2019 after they achieved consistent double-digit growth since entering the US market, the efficiency of this growth is credited to only choosing to collaborate with clients that have similar values with a strong focus on the relationships, the environment, and accountability.  With ambitious growth plans, NRI continues to expand their footprint, technology, and services to better serve brands across North America. Noteworthy clients include OluKai, Doc Martens, Rip Curl, Volcom, Herschel Supply Co., and other apparel, footwear, accessories, and other select brands. 

NRI Triumphs through People-Focused Technology

When asked what gives NRI a competitive edge, Toor and Olsen highlighted the company's emphasis on integrated technology and people-focused culture. NRI invests in innovative warehouse automation to navigate labour shortages and improve the employee experience. For example, Robotic solutions like 6 River Systems reduce the travel time for employees and increase throughput and order accuracy. This technology enables their team to efficiently scale up or down as order volumes fluctuate. 

Automation For Flexible Scaling

By implementing automation like auto-baggers, their team can focus on more meaningful work rather than repetitive, injury-prone tasks. Route mapping technology not only makes their team more productive, but it also aids in reducing fatigue. One of the more interesting technologies enables their employees to work in whatever language they are most comfortable in. This enhances communication and broadens their ability to pull from a more skilled and culturally diverse labour pool.  

Beyond automation, NRI’s team of industrial engineers is continuously identifying and leveraging clients’ activity patterns to support product layout and configuration within their facilities. Q4 amplifies existing fulfillment challenges and introduces new ones; NRI seeks to identify and embrace all opportunities, no matter how small, to improve order processing time. 

Staffing For Peak Performance

At NRI, people come first. That's clear from their hands-on, relationship-driven approach to attracting talent to the fact that their HR is called their “People Experience Department”.  

"We understand that people have needs,” says Olsen.  

NRI invests in employees because they know that skilled talent has options. Team members want to feel valued, not just be another cog in the machine. So NRI provides extensive training, promotes from within, and focuses on career growth. This nurtures loyalty, ensuring NRI has the skills to deliver when clients need them most. Technology may maximize efficiency, but people power the operation. Securing sufficient staffing amidst labour shortages can make or break a successful peak season. NRI works closely with their clients to project labour needs based on order forecasts. Their talent teams then collaborate with staffing partners to recruit and train new hires.  

During the pandemic when people started purchasing more goods online, NRI expanded dramatically to open new facilities and ramp of their staffing to keep up. This people-focused approach enabled them to expand their team during times when other businesses were sending people home. 

We would not have been able to grow at the pace we needed, if Surrey was not growing with us.

Gary Toor, Talent Acquisition Manager, NRI
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Surrey Enables NRI to Thrive

Headquartered in Surrey for over a decade, NRI credits the city for enabling its rapid success. Surrey’s expanding population and strategically located industrial land development means the company has been able to stay in the city rather than having to look at other municipalities.  

Moreover, Surrey's pipeline of diverse talent and location near the US Border, major shipping ports, and three international airports have provided the ideal launchpad for NRI's North American operations and international growth. Recently, NRI opened a new 103,000 square foot facility in Campbell Heights. The additional space and two hundred new local jobs enable the company to continue empowering brands through best-in-class fulfillment. This new facility marks large investment number 5 for the company in Surrey, as our competitive advantages continue to deliver for the company’s bottom line.  

Empowering Ecommerce, Together

Companies like NRI remind us of all the people, technologies, and systems that work hard behind the scenes to make the holiday season magical. Surrey's culture of innovation and growth provides the ideal environment for logistics providers and businesses of all kinds to thrive. 

Does your company have a success story to share? Our team would love to hear from you. Let's deliver your future in Surrey, together.