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Manic Solutions named Purolator Courier Carrier of the Year

CALGARY, Alta. - Purolator Courier relies on some pretty big carriers to help move its freight, but for the second year in a row it's the little guy who came away with top honours as the courier compa...

CALGARY, Alta. – Purolator Courier relies on some pretty big carriers to help move its freight, but for the second year in a row it’s the little guy who came away with top honours as the courier company’s Carrier of the Year.

It was no small feat for Calgary, Alta.-based Manic Solutions, considering the 13-truck carrier was up against heavyweights such as Challenger Motor Freight, SLH, Bison Transport and Arnold Brothers. Purolator’s Carrier of the Year award “recognizes excellence in ground Transportation ” and relies on a number of criteria including a bi-annual fitness review which breaks down the carrier’s performance over a six month period. Manic – which hauls freight exclusively for Purolator – has now won the award both years it was eligible to receive it. Jon McNichol, operations manager for Manic, attributes the award to the company’s “rapport, dedication and not letting up the drive.”

“It boils down to understanding the customer and being proactive,” adds owner Tim Bushko. “We need to know before they do when there’s going to be a problem and identify it when it’s still developing.”

That’s no easy feat when you’re hauling freight for a company that guarantees overnight deliveries. Purolator guarantees its shipments will arrive on time, or the customer doesn’t have to pay. So, it’s easy to understand why they demand a lot from their carriers.

“We have some very tight windows,” says McNichol, pointing out an air move run between Red Deer and Calgary only has a 15 minute “slush window” built into it.

“Their window is 15 minutes past the scheduled arrival time and for anything after that, we’re deemed late,” adds Bushko. Although the window for longer deliveries such as the Calgary-Winnipeg route are slightly larger, McNichol says there’s still no time for the drivers to waste along the way.

In fact, even road closures and avalanches are rarely an adequate excuse. Bushko recalls the time in 2003 when avalanches forced the closure of the Trans-Canada Hwy. out of B.C.

“I called Purolator and said ‘What are your expectations?’ and they said ‘You just need to meet your arrival time,'” Bushko says with chuckle. “We ended up sending our drivers through Edmonton to get to Calgary.”

Then there’s the time when Purolator locked its own trucks down in Saskatchewan due to a blizzard. None of its own trucks were moving, but Manic still delivered its loads from Calgary-Winnipeg on schedule. Bushko says Purolator still doesn’t know how they pulled it off.

“It took fantastic dedication from our drivers and owner/operators,” says McNichol.

The company is quick to point out it prides itself in meeting tight delivery times without compromising driver safety, and its claims history proves it. Manic has racked up more than eight million miles without an insurance claim.

“We used to be insured by Markel and they have very stringent hiring criteria and we still use those same criteria today,” says Bushko.

In addition to meeting tight delivery windows, the company must also ensure its independently-owned trucks can be tracked at any time. They use Cancom GPS systems to achieve this, which allows not only Manic management but also Purolator officials to keep an eye on shipments.

“If we’re late getting in, they know it the same time we know it,” McNichol says.

While hauling loads for Purolator is demanding, the Manic management team say they wouldn’t want it any other way. However, they do admit not every driver is cut out for the tight deadlines and constant night driving (about 90 per cent of Manic’s miles are run at night to avoid traffic).

“If you put that deadline ahead of you every night, you’d go nuts,” says Bushko. “I’ve hired guys that have snapped having that deadline in front of them every night.”

McNichol adds “The drivers know what the gig is and it goes unasked. They respond huge, and they plug away at what a lot of people may consider very boring work.”

Most Manic drivers run regularly scheduled routes and have it down to an exact science, thanks largely to time markers they use along the way to gauge whether or not they’re on schedule.

“We have guys – I guarantee you – who don’t have to stop for a single traffic light anywhere in Edmonton because they have it timed perfectly,” Bushko says.

In fact, McNichol and Bushko say roughly “99.9998 per cent” of the award can be attributed back to the drivers.

“We’re the coaches, we manage the team, but those guys perform flawlessly day in and day out,” McNichol says.

While having all your eggs in one basket may seem like a gamble, Manic Solutions is confident its relationship with Purolator will continue to thrive.

“Our size is a definite asset,” says McNichol. “The customer doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Bushko adds “This is a square peg in a square hole.” Manic hopes to make it a three-peat next year when Purolator doles out its 2005 Carrier of the Year Award.

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