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News Focus: Going the distance

MT: You have just been named to the prestigious list of the 5O Best Managed Companies in Canada, your fleet is pushing 900 power units and you have enjoyed an 88 percent increase in your revenues sinc...


MT: You have just been named to the prestigious list of the 5O Best Managed Companies in Canada, your fleet is pushing 900 power units and you have enjoyed an 88 percent increase in your revenues since March of 98. You’ve certainly climbed a long way from the one-truck operation you started back in 1975. What got you here?

Einwechter: I would say the fact that right from the very beginning our basic foundation was based on a determination to succeed. Our slogan is “We go the distance” and what that really says is that we go the distance for our customers by the type of service we provide, we go the distance for our employees, our shareholders, our investors and the community we operate within. People may think it sounds corny but it really is about an attitude and it has worked well for us; it’s our identity.

MT: How has the perception of what it actually means to “go the distance” for your clients changed from 1975 to now?

Einwechter: Going the distance back then was just working harder. When I started in the business I didn’t have any expertise at all. I liked to say what I lacked in expertise I made up in effort. I was going the distance with effort, we all were. Now it’s not just effort, it’s expertise, it’s knowledge, information technology.

MT: Speaking of information technology, in 1988 you were the first Canadian carrier to use two-way satellite tracking when you invested in Qualcomm’s system. What prompted you to embrace such new technology when much more established carriers were taking a wait and see approach?

Einwechter: First, let me say that although we spend a lot of money on technology we are not under the erroneous impression that technology is the great cure for everything. We spend that money so that the human beings who run this company can have better information in hand to make informed decisions. Time and again you will see companies announce that they’ve spent big money on software and systems and they erroneously think that will solve their problems. Yet they forget about the people side, about going the distance for them. As far as the pioneering investment in satellite tracking is concerned, we have been a time sensitive carrier almost since our inception. But from 1985 we were the first to do the first true JIT shipments into GM. We did a lot of long distance cross border business. Frankly I became fed up with the vagaries of trying to track down trucks for JIT movements. And I thought that asking drivers to call in every four hours was disruptive to them to say the least. I just thought there had to be a better way. We believed this would carry us into the future. Now it drives our dispatch system, it drives our routing, billing, fuel optimization packages and payroll. Drivers can even access directions. It is such an integral part of what we do. And if our clients want to come in over the Internet and track their shipments they can do that.

MT: You’ve made several other notable investments in IT. Tell me about the new document management system you’ve installed to speed up paperwork and customer service .

Einwechter: That’s the Pegasus System. This industry is paper intensive with trip report sheets, bills of lading, repair bills, weigh bills, tolls, etc. In the past, trying to track a trip sheet or a bill of lading, especially if it was misfiled, you could go off on a two-week paper chase. Now when the paperwork comes in, it gets gutted. All the data is imaged and it is all filed electronically. If a customer wants to see something, we can send it to him right away over the Internet. We implemented the system last fall and it was probably one of our happiest software implementations. It has changed our whole workflow. It allowed us to redesign our workflow to become more efficient.

MT: In 1994 you also became the first carrier under the new NAFTA agreement to receive authority for Mexico, and provide transportation services across the entire continent. Can you outline the service you offer for companies shipping to Mexico and the challenges you have faced serving that country?

Einwechter: Us getting the authority to run into Mexico was like winning the battle but losing the war. We got the authority because of political pressure and it was a great coup for us and a great coup for Canada. But the Mexicans because of their bureaucracy, have presented significant, recurring, lengthy hurdles. That being said, we do a tremendous amount of specialized business into Mexico on our flatbeds and specialty trailers. We do a lot of dedicated transportation in and out of Mexico for clients.

MT: You also operate a 100,000 sq ft warehouse at your Cambridge facility. Why did you get into the warehousing business and what services do you offer?

Einwechter: We got into the business in 1996 by sheer happenstance really. We were growing so dramatically we were absolutely squished in our previous facility. This office facility happened to come with a 100,000 sq ft warehouse facility. It wasn’t my original intention but since we got it, we decided to make something out of it. We do quality control inspections for the clients, order replenishment, product rework, light sub assembly, straight warehousing. By doing what we are doing with some clients we are integrating ourselves with their operations beyond moving freight. We also have a fair amount of stand alone clients for whom we don’t provide any freight service. It rounds out our service and it definitely gives us a stronger link to our clients. As we integrate more with our clients it gives us a greater appreciation of what our clients face.

MT: You also have some growth plans you’re ready to speak about?

Einwechter: Our Elgin Motor Freight division is located in St. Thomas and is situated about 11-12 miles off Hwy 401. We did a study and for 60 percent of what they are doing, the trucks don’t necessarily need to go to St. Thomas. We’ll keep the St. Thomas operation but we need to expand. We will have a new facility on one of the interchanges in London by April. It will allow both Challenger and Elgin trucks to have a fuelling location and repair location and have a significant operational presence in London. Our next plan, because we’ve also outgrown our facilities here in Cambridge, is to build a new complex on 30-50 acres. It will be state-of-the-art with automated drivethrough truck washes, advanced fuelling and safety inspection lanes. We will build it probably within three years.


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