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New Flyer Industries Canada ULC, Winnipeg. Heavy-duty truck manufacturing; 1,288 employees; average age: 42. Holds an annual staff wellness week that includes flu shots and nutrition classes.

Bus builder New Flyer Industries Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans to open a parts distribution centre in Southern Ontario later this year.

About 15 people are expected to be employed at the facility, which the Winnipeg-based company says will be established in the "Greater Toronto and Hamilton area," although a specific location has yet to be selected.

"We have been expanding our aftermarket service model and with a number of customers in this region asking us to provide local support, opening an Ontario PDC is the next logical step in executing our strategy," chief executive officer Paul Soubry said in a release.

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There are currently more than 9,300 transit buses operated by over 65 transit agencies within a 300-kilometre radius of the two cities, of which nearly a third were manufactured by New Flyer, added Hans Peper, the company's executive vice-president, customer services.

"Establishing a PDC in the region is expected to improve New Flyer's response time for service parts, enhance parts availability and fill rates, and to enable the company to better support its customers in the areas of supply and inventory services."

The decision to establish the Ontario parts centre follows on the successful launch of a customer service and overhaul centre in Arnprior, Ont., last year, the company said. Some two dozen people are employed at that facility.

Some inventory from Winnipeg will be redistributed to the Ontario PDC to be closer to New Flyer's customer base in the region.

It currently has parts centres in Winnipeg, Erlanger, Ky., and Fresno, Calif..

With more than 2,000 employees, the company manufactures heavy-duty transit buses in Canada and the United States, with manufacturing facilities in Winnipeg, and St. Cloud and Crookston, Minn.

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