RED DEER, Alta. — The folks at Black Hand Transport aren’t shy about getting their hands dirty to make sure the job is done right.
Started by Jeremy Douglas and Kyle Edwards in 2014, Black Hand began operations Oct. 15 of that year with four tridem pneumatic trailers and a single tractor. Hiring subcontractors to haul the other trailers, the business grew. Eventually, they diversified into various areas of trucking – aggregates, highways, flat decks – with the company initially focusing on serving the volatile oil and gas sector.
“We are not shy about trying a new idea and working with a new client to streamline operations for them and keep steady work for our operators, lease operators, and subcontractors,” said Douglas.
With oil and gas thriving in 2014, Douglas and Edwards became vividly aware of the need for a transport provider that was reliable, honest, and customer oriented.
While working for a pair of service companies, the duo would see firsthand the billing process, which they said was “excessive, and for loads that were never even hauled.”
“If we created a company that believed in relationships, honesty, and integrity, we could make a go at it,” said Edwards.
And make a go at it, they did.
Along with their investment partner, Darcy Torhjelm, the search for a company name began, one that accurately depicted their business goals and attitude.
“When starting to design the logo, we had originally started as Black Hand Sand – catchy, I know,” said Douglas. “But we decided that it would limit us to just the energy industry, and Black Hand Transport would allow more opportunities. We decided with the name originally because we were in the oil industry and we just worked so hard that our hands were always dirty, and that is the principle we continue to work by.”
Today, Black Hand has 20 tractors in its fleet, along with continuing to employ subcontractors. They offer pneumatic trailers, hopper bottoms, flat decks, and power units. With its head office in Red Deer, Black Hand offers its services pretty much anywhere.
One of the company’s keys to success is its ability to ensure its customers are involved in the process while treating them as one of their own.
“The thing that makes us unique to our clients is that we are a very open book and we care very much about their budget,” said Edwards. “We want to make sure we are utilizing our equipment as best as we can to support and help our clients save on their budgets.”
With the new reality of an energy sector that goes up and down, diversifying was a necessary move for Black Hand. But they remain optimistic about an industry they respect.
“Our magic eight ball is constantly confused by this industry daily. You are hearing about all of the work on the horizon, but watching companies that you have competed with, sweat and bled with, closing doors,” said Douglas. “We are seeing it as a tough industry to be involved in, but are always loyal to the oil sector and our clients who have worked side by side with us for years.”
Douglas and Edwards also have concerns when it comes to the trucking industry. Increasing taxes that cut into profits, constantly changing regulatory standards, and the challenges in keeping up to speed, and what they have seen with Class 1 drivers receiving the bare minimum when it comes to training are a few examples.
“We are seeing people who do not know axle weights, and just get by on passing the test,” said Douglas. “There are many places to go and get tested, but some have higher standards than the next. How are we holding them accountable? How are we ensuring that the new drivers are getting the knowledge that they require to succeed in our business?”
When it comes to the use of new technology, drivers at Black Hand are equipped with the tools they need to be as efficient as possible.
“We are always working on ways to make information flow more quickly and smoothly and as user-friendly as we can,” said Edwards. “With everyone being on the road constantly, we want to make sure we are sending them their dispatch orders and receiving their paperwork in a timely manner.”
The company is also trying to streamline how it processes receivables, an area Edwards said is one of the company’s biggest killers due to the amount of data entry required.
The new process will allow Black Hand’s logistics team to concentrate more on utilization rather than on data entry. It will also mean drivers can fill out a ticket and send it straight to the logistics team for auditing and billing.
Company drivers are using ELDs, as well. Two trucks are making cross-border trips and are required to use ELDs, and Douglas and Edwards are working to find the right device for the entire fleet.
Both Douglas and Edwards recognize the importance of operating their business with safety and ethical standards in mind.
“We believe that reputation is everything, and we understand what it takes to work hand-in-hand with our clients in order to be a preferred logistical solution provider,” said Douglas. “Our people are what make us who we are, and having a cohesive team is what allows us to continuously meet our clients’ needs.”