BRAMPTON, Ont. — F1 Freight Systems, for all intents and purposes, is a company in its infancy. Born in 1999, the company is just 18 years young. But you wouldn’t be able to tell its age when you look at its accomplishments, employee retention, and customer base.
(L-R): Adrian Strank and sons Geoff and Chris manage F1 Freight Systems.
The company was started by current president, Adrian Strank, in 1999. Adrian had been working in trucking since 1978, and though he never drove a truck, he did know how to manage drivers and run a business from an operational standpoint. So, he started F1 and it has taken off ever since.
Today, the company boasts 50 trucks and hauls general freight and temperature-sensitive products to the continental US. It has two terminals in Canada, one in Belleville, Ont., and one, its headquarters, in Brampton, Ont. It also has six terminals in the main US cities it operates out of. The business also offers what it calls supply chain solutions, including warehousing and specialized freight moves.
F1 is also very much a family business, as Adrian’s sons, Chris and Geoff, are also heavily involved. Chris Strank is general manager, while Geoff Strank is the head of operations.
According to Chris and Geoff, the business is doing well because of its dependability, family values, and approach to employment.
“In general, our biggest strength is our dependability,” Chris said. “Our goal is to become our customers’ first call, whether they need something moved or stored. And the way we look at it is, we try to make partnerships, not just transactions. Because the better we can understand the requirements of who we’re working with, the stronger, longer, and more mutually beneficial the relationships become.”
For what it’s worth, Chris said, many of F1’s customers have been with it for years.
“We’re also great at communicating,” Geoff added. “We are an LTL carrier, which requires a lot of communication, because one truck could have 10 shipments for 10 different customers and one delay can affect 10 customers. So, we try and communicate anything we can in advance to avoid issues. When you don’t communicate, that’s when there’s issues and customers get upset. But, if you give them bad news in advance, they can plan ahead. We put an emphasis on communication in our company. When our sales reps bring in new customers, it’s always because they’ve had service and communication issues in the past, so we try and address that. We communicate as much as possible as soon as possible. In short, we try and be proactive as opposed to reactive.”
Not only does the company focus on keeping its relationships with its customers thriving, it does the same for its employees. Relative to its track record on retaining customers, F1’s employee turnover rate is quite low.
“We want to create a career home for our employees,” Chris said. “Because we don’t want them to think of driving as just a job. Whether they’re in the office or on the road, every member of our company is of value and we try our best to show them that. We have drivers and staff members that have been with us since day one. Our turnover is very minimal and we take pride in the fact that the majority of employees have been here for five years or more.”
Chris said the low turnover rate is due to the family business feel of F1.
“We work very hard to create a welcoming work environment for all of our employees,” he said. “We take the time to listen to our guys. I work outside of our safety administrator’s desk and (drivers) always go to her when they have questions or concerns, but as I see them, I have my own conversation with them. In today’s day and age, it’s hard to find that personal touch, it’s very cold, and I even see it with newer recruits, they come from a company where they aren’t listened to or they’re just a number, not a name.”
The company also makes sure its terminals have an open concept layout, so drivers have a driver lounge area that isn’t segregated from the rest of the office, added Geoff.
“We try to break down barriers, literally,” Chris said. “That’s why we treat our drivers so well. We invest in innovative technology so we can increase compensation levels for drivers. We didn’t invest to increase profits, we did it to increase driver pay, because we believe in taking care of our people.”
Chris also said the company makes sure to spec’ its trucks to suit driver needs.
“We know (a truck) is a driver’s office, and sometimes for weeks at a time, it’s their home,” he said. “So, we want them to be comfortable and make sure they have a good night’s rest, because if the driver is happy and well rested, then he’s focused and he’s safe. And that’s what we want.”
More than that, F1 said it has the value-add that other companies just can’t give their drivers.
“The way our operation works, we try and do as much as we can for drivers,” Geoff said. “Our drivers don’t have to worry about customs paperwork, or anything like that, because we handle all of that ourselves here internally in the office. We want the driver’s focus to be on the road, which is different from a lot of companies, because most believe that paperwork should be completed by the driver.”
Going forward, F1 said it believes it will continue to grow and keep its focus on its staff, customers, and drivers.
“They’re all equally important to us, because without customers, staff, and drivers, we wouldn’t have a business,” Chris said. “We want to be here for tomorrow, not just today.”