Every day, containers loaded with bags of cat litter leave Intersand’s factory in Boucherville. Destination: the container terminals at the Port of Montreal. Final destination: the four corners of the world.
The Animaland pet shop on Prince Hinoi Avenue in Papeete, Tahiti, offers its customers two choices of cat litter: OdourLock Unscented and Baby Powder Scented. Both are Intersand brand.
The Tahitian cat owners and Animaland customers may not be aware that they are using cat litter produced in Boucherville, on Montreal’s South Shore.
“We sell in over 45 countries on every continent,” said Stéphane Chevigny, founder and President of Intersand. “Come, I’ll show you! A picture is worth a thousand words!” Painted on a large wall at Intersand headquarters in Boucherville’s industrial park is a map of the world. A flag marks each of the distributers they do business with. They’re all over the map: North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, India, Israel and Jordan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the list goes on.
The popularity of the product is largely due to the fact that Intersand manufactures the litter mainly from Wyoming clay, which has superior absorbency (five times its weight). It can also be explained by the marketing skills of the big boss, who trained at UQAM’s School of Management Sciences.
A fleet of trucks dedicated to Intersand
A worldwide client base necessarily requires strong transportation and distribution logistics. The bags of litter are shipped in containers, about 7,800 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) per year! Trucks, mainly from Transport Robert, pick up containers every day. Located close by in the industrial park, Transport Robert has dedicated a fleet of trucks to Intersand that do just that, travel between Boucherville and the Port.
At the docks, the containers are loaded on container ships that will head to Europe, South America and even Asia. In the past, containers bound for Asia went by train to the Port of Vancouver, where they were loaded onto ships. But Intersand has been using the Montreal-Asia shipping service since it was first offered. “The transport time compares favourably since there is a lot of congestion on the West Coast,” explained Stéphane Chevigny.
Each country has its own taste
Each container has a specific destination, because the products are adapted to the characteristics of customers in each country: German customers are crazy about the baby powder fragrance while the Taiwanese love the smell of lavender and the Scandinavians go nuts for pomegranate apple. And what about Quebec, you might ask? The top litter choice is unscented!
The formats vary as well. In countries where people do errands on scooters, customers appreciate the small bags, while American buy the larger formats at Costco.
A “Zero Waste” factory
The repeat business of its European clients over the course of 25 years helped make Stéphane Chevigny and his team sensitive to environmental concerns. The Quebec businessman is proud to say that his factory is “zero waste.” Everything that can be is recycled, reused and composted. “We don’t put out more garbage on the street than any home,” said this employer of 85 people. In 2008, he equipped the building with a solar wall that provides energy in winter. He provides electric vehicles for employees who have to travel. “Half my team is made up of young people. They grew up hearing about the environment and they tell us about it!”
Intersand’s business is going well and Stéphane Chevigny’s company will no doubt remain a good client of the Port of Montreal for a long time to come.
Quebec exported $85.1 billion worth of goods in 2017, according to the Institut de la Statistique du Québec.
At the Port of Montreal, close to 7 million tonnes, also called metric tons, of containerized cargo have been shipped to foreign markets.