113-year-old sign shop creates a supply-chain network to serve PPE needs

Premier Doug Ford recently visited Toronto Stamp Inc.’s Scarborough, Ont., site as part of his summer tour and acknowledged the innovation and growth achieved by the family-run business during COVID-19.

The company has played many roles and taken on several projects since it was established in 1907, including producing stamps, stencils, nameplates, signs, tags, and badges out of a 650-m2 (7000-sf) facility. The shop even helped Ontario develop its first license plates.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company chose to shift from its usual production to develop Ontario’s first end-to-end supply chain for face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, sneeze barriers, social distancing decals, and instructional labels. The shop has since produced more than five million face shields.

Ford toured the facility and spent time understanding how Toronto Stamp expanded and retooled its business to include a broad range of PPE products. As an entrepreneur with a family labelling business, Ford had the opportunity to ask questions about the equipment and meet many of the team members, some of whom have worked there for more than 30 years.

“We won a contract with Health Canada to deliver 4 million face shields in just two months,” said Jimmy Williams, the company’s general manager. “Like many small businesses, we had the opportunity to pivot our business to stay alive—it was something we were able to do based on our experience and expertise. We now have the opportunity to support Canadians by protecting them.”

The shop has since produced more than five million face shields.

The shop has since produced more than five million face shields.

However, at the outset, the shop faced many challenges. The primary barrier being very few understood its capabilities or potential. Toronto Stamp had always been recognized in the rubber stamp industry, but it was not consistently at the top of the list when people were looking for solutions to their unique situations. Therefore, the company sought assistance from other businesses in the province.

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“When we found out we won the government contract, we knew we were never going to be successful alone—an industry in Canada was going to get this done,” said Williams. “At first we partnered with more than 20 other Ontario businesses, and now we have invested in offering in-house and vertically integrated automation.”

Toronto Stamp led a number of businesses from across the province to build an end-to-end supply chain. Called Unitum Consortium (Latin for ‘United Community’), the network consists of businesses that represent all stages along the supply chain. Some of these include:

  • 3G Packaging Corp.;
  • Baysquare Technologies Pvt. Ltd.;
  • EM Plastic & Electric Products Ltd.;
  • Maverick Exhibits;
  • Pattison Sign Group;
  • Piedmont Plastics;
  • Sherway Group;
  • Spectra Advertising and Signs;
  • Swift Components Corporation;
  • Threadfin Business Solutions; and
  • Trotec Laser Canada Inc.;
From left to right: Brothers, Rich Williams, operations manager, and Jimmy Williams, general manager, Toronto Stamp Inc.

From left to right: Brothers, Rich Williams, operations manager, and Jimmy Williams, general manager, Toronto Stamp Inc.

“Williams reached out to me, and I immediately asked him how I could help,” said Robert Ascenzi Jr., chief operating officer at Spectra Advertising and Signs. “This was a great way to get people back on staff. It also allowed everybody a chance to feel like they could help in some way.”

Toronto Stamp is all set to open its new 4552-m2 (49,000-sf) facility in Brampton, Ont., which will consist of a full suite of new devices, including a Davis-Standard multi-layer film extrusion line, a Mark Andy flexo printing press, an inverted flow wrapper, a Multi-Cam computer numerical control (CNC) router, injection molding machines, Trotec CNC lasers, and robotic arms, to continue manufacturing PPE for future needs.

“Ontario is truly Canada’s workshop. We can make anything here, and Toronto Stamp’s efforts are clear proof of that,” said Ford. “The shop’s expansion of its facilities will support our frontline heroes in the fight against COVID-19, help businesses reopen safely and protect their customers and workers, and create good jobs for people right here in the province.”

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