CPX shares the wealth (October 01, 2005)

by James Menzies

SURREY, B.C. – It has been a good year for Coastal Pacific Xpress (CPX). The company racked up more than $71 million during its fiscal year ending May 31, 2005 and it’s celebrating by sharing the wealth with its drivers and support staff.

The carrier, consisting of more than 100 support staff, 50 company drivers and 255 owner/operators, is shelling out more than $400,000 in bonuses this year to thank its employees for a successful year.

“Without this incredible team of administrative staff, warehouse personnel, drivers and so many others, we could never have attained the growth and success we have today,” announced Jim Mickey, general manager of CPX. “We are so very proud of our people for their loyalty, professionalism, attention to detail and fine customer service. It’s a time to say thank-you to all of them and we are doing so with these bonuses.”

CPX was founded in Surrey, B.C. in 1986 and now operates facilities in Calgary and Edmonton as well. The company is a leading transporter of refrigerated goods and each day its trucks travel more than 160,000 cumulative kilometres – the equivalent of four trips around the equator.

Co-owner Glen Parsons attributes most of the carrier’s success to the fact its drivers are treated as its most important assets – the customer comes second, and profits are third on the list. It’s an unorthodox way of thinking but it’s proven to positively impact the bottom line through reduced driver turnover and a strong morale in an often downtrodden industry.

“Our people are the ones who created this wealth through their efforts and how they look after the business and how they take care of the customers,” admits Parsons. “They created all the value we have in this company.”

Each employee who’s been with the company for six months or more was entitled to the bonus. The amount was determined based on the length of the recipient’s employment with CPX and their role within the company. The presentations were made Aug. 27 at a staff picnic held at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

“We’re going to have a get-together so our families can all meet,” Parsons told Truck News the day before the picnic. “We feel you’re more engaged if family is part of this company as well. We try to create a workplace that is fun, so that people can find value in coming here.”

The corporate culture that CPX has established is instilled into its staff from day one of their employment, notes Parsons. New hires are given a copy of Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and one staffer is in the process of setting up a book club so employees can share other motivational books.

“It’s not required reading, it’s just something we picked up on that has a lot of values and we are a very big value-based organization,” says Parsons. “It’s one of the things that we try to do to make our people more successful.”

The walls of the company’s headquarters are lined with posters of famous thinkers such as Albert Einstein along with their inspirational quotes – not your typical trucking terminal decor.

CPX also promotes a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle by providing free fitness center memberships as well as private personal growth coaching to help staff reach their life goals. Parsons says the company recognizes its drivers’ birthdays, offers flex time and encourages staff to recognize their colleague’s efforts through simple gestures such as candy and a thank-you card.

“At CPX, we are strong believers in the work-life balance,” says Mickey.

That means holding regular events where drivers get to mingle with their cohorts in a relaxed environment, says Parsons, noting the company has a monthly barbecue for drivers and support staff.

“We see a lot of personal interaction and the drivers seem to be very comfortable with the company,” he says. “They can come in and it feels like home. They have the ability to get into dispatch and talk dispatch.”

In fact, CPX drivers are offered the chance to spend a paid day with dispatch so they can learn what goes on at head office while they’re on the road. Parsons says it results in a mutual respect between drivers and support staff.

Still, like most other carriers CPX is continuing to struggle to find enough drivers to keep pace with the company’s growth. It has launched an aggressive recruiting campaign by using its trailers to carry the message of its core values. One trailer for instance, carries the message: “Respect – we’ve got loads of it.”

Of course, the bonuses won’t hurt when it comes to attracting and retaining drivers.

“We believe that you put your money where your mouth is,” Mickey adds. “That is why we are providing these bonuses and plan to do so each year this company is profitable.”

With forecast revenues of $100 million for fiscal 2006, it looks like CPX employees can look forward to another extra payday next year.

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