[media-credit name=”TI Group” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]When clients and friends speculate on why Dave Smith and his wife, Anna, chose the Leaside industrial park for their two businesses, many are surprised that the answer has nothing to do with the nature of their work.
“We were raising our kids in Leaside,” said Smith, “and since we are both workaholics, we knew life would be less complicated and better for everyone if we lived and worked close by. It made each day so much easier when we needed to get home, drive our two kids to their activities, attend events at their schools, etc.”
Thirty-five years later, Smith’s three-campus facility for the TI Group now takes in 110,000 square feet on Thorncliffe Park Dr. plus an additional 35,000 square feet recently acquired just around the corner.
The privately-owned Canadian company has grown to be one of the most respected retail marketing firms in the country and was recently listed as one of the top 50 printers in Canada.
“With 200 employees and a fully-equipped shop complete with photo studios, printing presses and creative, we’re not going anywhere soon,” says Smith.
TI Group’s specialty is large, custom signs that cover entire walls and windows, point of purchase displays in stores, as well as special exhibits.
Next time you walk into a Bell store, note that everything around you that bears the Bell brand has come from TI Group in Leaside. You’ll also see their work at most banks, all Loblaws stores and many car dealerships.
Going to the Royal Ontario Museum to see China’s Forbidden City exhibit? The display of the 250 treasures, surrounded by custom interiors (like the gold wall patterns) were all produced at TI Group.
TI Group can do it all, from the initial creative concept, through shooting the photographs, designing and printing the signage, right to the installation.
“Our In-house photo shoots may be products or people,” says Smith. “Just last month we shot local celebrities Chris (Hyndman) and Steve (Sabados) from the Designer Guys. We even rent animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, whatever we need, and bring them in here.” Although TI Group is better suited to a location in the middle of a city than some, there are challenges these days for industrial park businesses. “Traffic and congestion in and around our location is a constant issue,” says Smith. There are some carriers that won’t deliver to the facility because of the traffic and difficulty manoeuvering their trucks along the roads.
Smith and his other business colleagues also face much tougher environmental regulations than a generation ago. TI Group, for example, dedicates two staff just to monitor environmental compliance. This includes following regulations on noise control, air quality and proper paper disposal.
“We have no petroleum based products any more. All our inks are water soluble and made with vegetable based dyes.
“What each of us is doing and how we meet these challenges is a constant topic of discussion at our monthly meetings,” says Smith, who’s on the Board of Directors for the Leaside Business Park and an active member of the association.
Smith remains enthusiastic about business, and happy to be in Leaside where he and Anna have lived over 30 years and raised their two children.
As for Anna, she grew up in Leaside and has many fond memories of the community. ‘These may not be the most modern buildings,” says Smith, “probably ‘knock downs for some, but for us this is where we’ve invested and this is where we’ll stay.”