While discussions at the Summit from motor carrier executives indicated it is vital to add scale, they also seemed to acknowledge that growing organically has become nearly impossible. Kriska’s Mark Seymour said his company has been trying for the last three to five years to grow organically but it hasn’t been able to add significant capacity through these traditional efforts.
Speaking later that same day, Rob Penner, COO of Bison Transport, indicated his company is currently only hiring about two of every 100 drivers who apply for a driving job.
Only about five to six out of 100 are identified as being “Bison material” and having the skills necessary to work there. Of those five or six, typically only two or three perform well enough on the road test to be offered a job.
Rob said Bison is expanding its Mississauga operations and wants to add 200-300 trucks out of there. By his account, if hiring just two to three drivers per 100 applicants, Bison would need to receive 10,000-15,000 applicants to reach its goals. We all know there just aren’t that many people out there looking for driving jobs, even with a solid, reputable carrier.
So, read between the lines and I think you can expect to see Bison pick up one or more companies in the next year or so. Companies that want to grow really have just one option at this time to do so and that is through acquisition.
Fleet owners looking to sell may also want to consider that there are suitors out there who are more interested in their drivers than any other aspect of the business. Companies won’t pay for your customers – there’s no loyalty anymore, with freight going out to bid every year or two. Your assets are worth only what they’re worth. However if you have a roster of safe, competent drivers, there’s value in that, and your ability to sell your business and command a decent return may well hinge on things like your safety record and driver turnover numbers, rather than the lanes you run and the customers you service.
Here’s what else was going on at the Surface Transportation Summit:
James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies