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Bison migrates to newest Calgary transportation hub

CALGARY, Alta. - Stretching back to the first half of the 20th century, the majority of trucking firms in the Calgary region have been congregating in the same area of the city. Originating in the cit...


HOME ON THE RANGE: Bison Transport has settled into its new home in the southeast corner of Calgary.

HOME ON THE RANGE: Bison Transport has settled into its new home in the southeast corner of Calgary.


CALGARY, Alta. – Stretching back to the first half of the 20th century, the majority of trucking firms in the Calgary region have been congregating in the same area of the city. Originating in the city centre, fleets soon found a home just west of the Bow River on the southeast corner of the city in an attempt to escape the congestion of the downtown core.

Travelling further away from passenger traffic, the transportation sector hopped to the east side of the river and the southeast region of Calgary soon became the main transportation hub for Southern Alberta’s largest municipal centre.

As Calgary continues to swell with growth, a new region on the city’s edge in southeast Calgary is beginning to have the makings of the latest transportation hub for the growing city. A stones throw away from the city limits off of 84th Street SE, Bison Transport found a parcel of land to turn the soil on its new Calgary terminal.

After a year and a half of development, Bison moved in bits and pieces to the new terminal during the summer months from its former double trailer operation. On Sept. 7, the carrier officially opened its doors at the new Calgary terminal during a grand opening celebration at the 40,000 sq.-ft. facility.

Despite Wrangler Road not being a fixture on many city maps just yet, the employees at Bison have made themselves at home at the new location at 234090 Wrangler Rd. SE. During a personal tour with Real Durand, manager of Bison’s Calgary terminal, he noted the open and spacious concept inside the building was influenced by the design of Bison’s corporate headquarters in Winnipeg, even down to the colour scheme.

In March, Bison was awarded the Grand Prize Winner of the Truckload Carriers Association 2005 National Fleet Safety Award in the over 25 million miles category. The company has made driver training a big part of the new Calgary facility.

The new terminal has been equipped with an extensive training and driver development centre. Situated just outside of a classroom and computer room will be a full tractor-trailer driver training simulator.

The simulator offers a three-channel plasma screen driving environment to offer the trainee a 180-degree view of the road. The simulator program offers a variety of 140 transmissions, 240 engines and 33 axle ratios.

Although nothing can replace actual real-world experience in the seat of a truck, the realistic driving environments train drivers how to recognize and anticipate hazardous driving situations. The force-loaded steering provides real-time feedback in situations such as tire blowouts or sloshing loads in realistic risk-free situations.

To utilize the simulator to its fullest potential, Bison is looking at partnering options with the Alberta Motor Transport Association to make the simulator available for shared usage among the association’s members.

“Training is a really big deal for us,” noted Durand. “We didn’t win the TCA award by accident and it’s something we take a great deal of pride in.”

The driver’s lounge area – complete with leather chairs and television – has a computer equipped with high-speed Internet and is situated adjacent to a spacious lunch room with numerous kitchen appliances. Telephones in a nearby alcove offer employees an opportunity to have conversations without distractions.

“It’s a big difference and the drivers can’t stop talking about it,” said Durand during the tour.

The new facility also provides its employees with laundry facilities and four shower rooms, an upgrade from the previous one shower at the former office. To promote health and wellness, the new workplace also contains a full fitness centre for the employees.

The new 33-acre plot of land has also given the Calgary operation an opportunity to expand its in-house capabilities. The new centre also features cross-dock and trailer storage facilities, a full-service maintenance shop, and inspection shed with a fuel island expected to be completed in the near future.

“When you source things out they will have a few customers to keep happy,” explained Durand. “Now we’re our only customer and can prioritize what we need to.”

The new Calgary terminal will also house Bison’s Western Canada Operations Centre and is a result of an aggressive growth strategy launched by the Winnipeg-based company in 1991.

Founded in 1969, the privately owned company had a total of 18 trucks on the road in 1991. In three years the fleet swelled to 100 trucks and today with terminals in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, the fleet has more than 800 trucks, 2,000 trailers and more than 1,100 drivers. With more than 350 employees in Alberta, the truckload carrier offers dry van, heated and refrigerated service throughout Canada and the US.

“We’ve really become a one-stop shop for our customers,” commented Durand.


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