Family values top priority for ‘the little company that can’

by Derek Clouthier

WINNIPEG, Man. — They may be small, but no freight is too big for “the little company that can.”

Specializing in hauling dimensional cargo that may be too wide, too long, or too high for the other guy, Winnipeg’s Fast Lane Freight Services is small enough that “everybody knows your name,” and driven enough to deliver freight to customers efficiently, safely, and as economically as possible.

Born in 2001 and incorporated the year after, it may not have been the best timing to launch a trucking company, but for Darren Lane the timing was perfect.

With a 10-year plan in his hand, Lane’s goal was to add one truck per year during his business’ first decade, and as he points out, “We achieved that.”

“I say ‘we’ because a good business doesn’t grow on its own, but by putting the right people in the right positions,” Lane said. “I have the best staff and drivers bar none and this has been my recipe for continued success.”

Praising his staff and treating each like a family member is nothing new for Lane. In fact, it’s one of the things he’s most proud of when it comes to his business.

“My staff is part of our Fast Lane family and they always go the extra mile to get the job done,” said Lane. “I believe our driving staff is well paid and we expect a lot from them – professionalism and a strong work ethic are base standards. Based on our percentage of repeat business, a strong customer base, and an extremely low percentage of freight claims, they are doing a fantastic job.”

And that job means moving some rather large pieces of equipment.

Using open decks to haul dimensional freight, there is not much – if anything at all – that Fast Lane Freight can’t move.

Full truckload and less-than-load, tri-axles and tandem axle trailer flats/steps/double drop RGN, over-dimensional loads, winter road services to isolated northern communities, hot shot services, pilot car or escort vehicles, and even hauling items for Ritchie Bros. auctions are some of the services Fast Lane Freight provides.

They can also haul your freight anywhere in Canada and the U.S., servicing an area from B.C. to Newfoundland and Canada’s north to the southern tip of Texas – if the location exists, Fast Lane can get it there, or they’ll find a way to get the job done.

“We strive to be a one call solution provider for trucking needs,” said Lane. “If we can’t do it, we have partner carriers that can.”

Moving into 2018, Lane said the past year had brought with it both highlights and challenges for trucking companies in Manitoba and throughout North America.

Manitoba’s economy and the increase in traffic and sales helped Fast Lane Freight continue its growth plans for the future. In the coming year, Lane plans to have his company become Risk Professionally Managed certified – the RPM Trucking Industry Safety program hosted by the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) and administered by SAFE Work Manitoba.

The biggest challenge Lane faced in 2017 was the introduction of electronic logging devices (ELDs), which any carrier operating cross-border was mandated to use as of Dec. 18, 2017.

“It proved to take up lots of our time just learning all about ELDs, researching the various systems, convincing our driving staff to adopt this new technology, purchasing and installing the equipment, and finally, the implementation and successful use of the ELDs,” said Lane. “This was, and still is, a true learning curve.”

Despite the effort to implement ELDs, Lane believes their use is a step in the right direction for the industry and ultimately will put carriers on a level playing field and regulate hours-of-service helping drivers and the general public be safer.

Perhaps the key to Lane’s success from a business standpoint and with the rollout of ELDs stems back to his family approach to a diverse workforce at Fast Lane Freight.

Lane said when looking to add to his business family, he looks for people who share his company’s values – integrity, respect, safety, trust, passion for the industry, and of course, family.

“Our drivers and our customers are diverse and come with different needs and expectations,” said Lane, highlighting some of the unique work traits different people bring to the table. “Women, for example, tend to have a real strength in communications and relationship building – two very important features in today’s marketplace.”

Lane added that women typically bring a softer edge to the office with a unique understanding of family values, which goes a long way in recruiting and retaining drivers.

Fast Lane has also been involved in several charitable efforts to help its community, including the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympic athletes and Run for the Cure to raise money for cancer research.

Also an MTA board member, Lane has built a business that can hold its head high.

“I am happy and proud to be a trucker, to continue the legacy of my father,” Lane said. “I want to continue to build a company that my children will be proud of and, just as importantly, that my staff is proud to work for and my customers are proud to be in business with.”

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