Metal Supermarkets Showcased as Success Story in CFA’s 50 Years of Canadian Franchising Series

Metal Supermarkets, the world’s largest supplier of small-quantity metals, has been featured as a Success Story in the Canadian Franchise Association’s 50 Years of Franchising series. 

Metal Supermarkets’ mentality has always been centered on quality over quantity – literally. Since its inception, the metal distributor has been an anomaly in an industry where supplying customers with bulk orders has always been the way to go.

“The metal distribution business has always been predicated on companies moving high volume – truckloads full or railcar loads full – but our business is the exact opposite,” says Andrew Arminen, Vice President of Franchising. “We’ve always been about selling smaller quantities, cut to size, and ready fast. This saves our customers time, money, effort and energy from having to buy large quantities and figure out how to cut it, store it, and inventory it.”

The idea for a small metal distributor originated with founder Bill Mair in 1985, when he opened the first Metal Supermarkets in Mississauga, Ontario, kick starting the company as a unique leader amongst its competitors from the very beginning.

Appropriately known as “The Convenience Stores for Metal,” Metal Supermarkets offers customers the freedom to order specific metals – anything from copper to stainless steel – in any size and quantity they need. The metal supplier is built around its promise to customize metal orders and supplies a wide range of services including shearing, plasma cutting and delivery.

With locations across Canada, the United States and the U.K., Mair’s idea has become an international hit. Today, Metal Supermarkets and its franchisees employ nearly 100 Canadians, and hundreds of Canadian businesses depend on them for fast and reliable access to metal.

The unique franchise model is also desirable for aspiring entrepreneurs who dream of working for a successful organization with an out-of-the-box business concept.

“We have a very, very diverse background of franchisees,” says Arminen. “Our franchise partners range from homemakers to people with former careers in the computer software business.”

One of the reasons why the booming business is quick to find franchisees is because of the support and recognition they receive from head office. “We guide and mentor them to be successful,” says Arminen. Part of that mentorship involves extensive 40 hour training in addition to two weeks of in-store and classroom learning before franchisees are awarded the key to their own store.

Arminen says franchise partners’ hard work and preparation pays off with good work-life balance once their store is open. “Part of the attraction for our franchise partners is that it affords a good, quality business as well as an opportunity to enjoy a meaningful lifestyle and to spend time with their families,” says Arminen.

With enthusiastic franchisees interested in joining, Metal Supermarkets has plans for rapid expansion with the help of the Canadian Franchise Association. The metal powerhouse credits CFA for helping them connect with other franchises, reach out to prospective franchisees and stay up to date on the latest Canadian franchising news and trends.


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