CCC gets the job done with flying colors

Sonia Straface

For Canada Colors and Chemicals (CCC), getting the job done and on time is second nature.

And it’s not hard to see how when you consider its 99.5% on-time delivery rate, which it is proud to share.

CCC began almost a century ago in 1920 and to date is one of the largest independent distributors in Canada and is the 10th largest distributor in North America. The company has five distribution points and has 21 Class 8 tractors, 23 trailers and 18 tankers to its name. Most of the tractors are leased through PacLease.

According to Rick Companion, the national manager of fleet operations and third-party logistics for CCC, the success of the private fleet stems from the communication that is engrained throughout the organization.

“From the time the customer places the order, right down to the dispatcher that dispatches the load…it all seamlessly flows through,” he said. “There is a lot of organization that goes on behind the scenes and we work hard together to make sure customers get their orders.”

He added that drivers and staff are always thinking of new ways to help make deliveries run smoother, for the integrity of the fleet and for the benefit of the customer.

“Part of the culture here is we are a solution provider,” Companion emphasized. “We look at a customer’s needs and review them and ask, ‘Is there a different approach we can take that will work better?’ I would say team effort to make us and give us the ability to make the on-time request that we’re given is our greatest strength. The challenge to get everything accomplished in one day. Sometimes the equipment breaks down and our drivers will do everything to communicate to the customer what’s happened and if they can, they stay late to get it delivered as soon as possible.”

Companion noted that CCC would not have its current on-time delivery rate if it wasn’t for the drivers who, before they become a member of the team, go through a stringent hiring process, followed by training and coaching.

“When we hire drivers, there’s a process through it where we take a two- to three-step interview process,” Companion said.

“What we look for most in those interviews is a can-do attitude and willingness to learn. No drivers just come in here, get hired and just drive a truck either. We spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring before they go out on their own.

“We will go with the driver for two weeks and show him the ropes. And when we determine if he or she can handle it, they go off on their own and we follow up with customers on performance. Months later we do ridealongs with the driver, just to ensure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I always tell the drivers it takes a year before you know what we expect from you. So, we do a lot of training in that first year, but after that year, we do monthly ridealongs to give them feedback and to tell them what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.”

Companion says that because of all that training and the can-do attitude of the CCC drivers, he receives positive feedback from its customers on a regular basis regarding driver performance.

“Our goal was always to out-service the competition,” he said. “Sometimes a customer’s requests for delivery are demanding and sometimes they put us in a position where it’s hard to deliver in a tractor-trailer and we make sure it happens. I had a customer who actually sent us a letter complimenting our driver saying that he could not believe the driver actually put the truck where he did because he didn’t think a tractor-trailer could even fit there. But the driver took the time to make sure the truck could get there safely and without accident. And stuff like that happens all the time.”

The hiring process seems to work out well for CCC as its turnover rate it quite low, according to Companion.

“It is rare that we have staff that leave,” he said. “A majority of our drivers that are here stay until they get their pension. I think they’re staying because they get fair pay for what they’re doing…and the environment and the culture that we promote. Because yes it’s about work, but it’s about having fun at the same time. We try to encourage all drivers to be part of the same process. Drivers and employees can all give suggestions if they see something that we can do better. And we share those best practices to the rest of our sites. We also allow them the freedom.

“At Canada Colors, I’ve been here 23 years and I still enjoy coming to work and I tell people all the time, ‘If the day comes that you can’t enjoy coming to work then there’s an issue, call me.’”

And though its hard to specifically point out where there could be potential challenges with a company that has a low turnover rate and an outstanding delivery performance, Companion said maintenance is the company’s biggest weakness.

“Maintaining the fleet is the biggest challenge we have to date,” he said. “Because we have made a service promise to our customers that we have to maintain. So, making sure the equipment gets repaired in time is a big deal to us.”

Companion said a way he has learned to manage this problem is again through coaching his drivers effectively, so they can all reach the common goal of delivering loads on time, every time.

“I spend a great deal of time educating drivers on why we have pre-trips and post-trips,” he said.

“I want them to know why its important to make sure everything is in order. They know they don’t want to be delayed because they didn’t check the equipment.”

Looking into the future, Companion said there is room for CCC to grow and expand and that’s what he hopes to do.

“The goal is to eliminate carriers because we can do it cheaper and more efficiently at the same time,” he said. “This in turn allows us to be productive…I always allude to the fact that we’re the FedEx of chemical distributors. Customers can place an order with us, demanding next day delivery and we are able to provide that service. And that gives us an edge over every one else.”

Sonia Straface

Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface.

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