Titanium CEO discusses acquisition strategy, driver turnover

WOODBRIDGE, Ont. — Titanium Transportation Group spent its first year as a publicly traded company demonstrating the type of growth investors like to see.

The company made two acquisitions in 2015 – Muskoka Transport and ProNorth Transportation – and effectively doubled its size. Titanium reported its 2015 earnings this week, which showed strong increases in revenue and EBITDA. On a conference call with analysts, Titanium CEO Ted Daniel offered some insights into where the company is heading as Canada’s newest publicly traded trucking company.

Ready to grow

Daniel said Titanium aims to make two acquisitions per year, likely in Ontario. These will be asset-based trucking companies, Daniel revealed, indicating he’s not a fan of buying third-party logistics companies. That division will rely on organic growth.

Titanium’s preference is to purchase underperforming companies and to turn them around. There is no shortage of candidates, Daniel said.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of acquisition opportunities,” Daniel said, noting the company is looking primarily for fleets that bring in $30-$50 million in annual revenue. The company has a $27-million undrawn credit line it can use to fund such acquisitions.

“Our balance sheet right now is very, very strong,” Daniel said. Ontario will remain the company’s focus for now, he added.

“Our plan is to continue to execute on our strategy…to buy companies that are underperforming and to execute on extracting synergies and value,” he said. “We see a lot of companies that are struggling.”

Typically, Daniel explained, Titanium will shrink a company it has acquired before growing it into a healthier entity. It did this at Muskoka, growing its margins from about 4% to 12%. Daniel likened the process to revitalizing a forest – the brush and dead wood has to be removed so the underlying plants can flourish.

“You’re first shrinking it then regrowing it, but regrowing it with the right ingredients,” he said. This process involves getting rid of bad employees, unprofitable customers and unsafe drivers.

Low turnover

Daniel got excited when an analyst asked about the company’s impressively low 9% driver turnover rate. Much of that, Daniel said, is forced turnover, where drivers are let go due to safety issues or retiring from the industry altogether. Daniel said the company has instilled a positive corporate culture that drivers appreciate.

He also indicated many drivers are shareholders, so they share in the company’s success.

“I love talking about what an amazing culture we have,” Daniel said. “Our turnover is absolutely consistent with our corporate culture.”

Low turnover, Daniel explained, results in safer operations, which in turn produces better customer service and improved profitability.

“Safety is not just a moral obligation, it translates to every level,” he said.


Adding capacity

Titanium Group this year will be taking delivery of about 100 new power units, but Daniel did not reveal whether they’ll be used to add capacity, replace existing equipment or replace acquired equipment when the next purchase is made.

Company officials indicated all new equipment is fitted with electronic driver logs and about a quarter of the fleet has been converted. Marilyn Daniel, vice-president of operations, said electronic logs are proving to be a cost savings for the company, as it reduces the time spent auditing paper logs.

When adding capacity, Ted Daniel said it’s tempting to place more trucks on the flatbed division. While the segment suffers a rut in January/February, Daniel said the volumes have been strong overall and he’s anticipating a bright future for the flatdeck sector as US building activity is expected to remain strong.

“We feel the construction industry in the US is going to continue to grow for the next five to 10 years, so we definitely see that being a growth product line,” he said of Titanium’s flatbed division.


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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Great to see the growing number of new Titanium tractors /trailers
    in an industry that was in need of a major face lift and operations
    Congratulations and best of luck in future acquisitions .

    Donald Faiers
    Simcoe Driver Service
    P.O. box 844
    Barrie ,On.
    L4M 4Y6

  • I drove for titanium transport for a very short period only because of my family commitment but if anyone is considering to get into a driving job titanium would definetly be a wise choice, very professional people Starting from the top right down to dispatch and the equipment is top notch state of the art.

  • I am currently a Driver for Titanium, I was one of the Drivers they kept on from the Drive Logistics acquisition. Going from Drive to Titanium was such a 180, great company in every aspect. I have at least another 18 years until I retire, I plan on spending them at Titanium. Working for them shows me what the trucking industry should be like.

  • I’m an seasoned driver returning to driving after a sabbatical of sorts from the industry. A lot has changed, from HOS to technology and equipment as well as management. So far I’m the happiest I’ve been in my entire career of driving and plan on staying with titanium till I choose to retire. Titanium is the best company I’ve worked for to date. It’s what a company should feel like with respect to its drivers.