Starting your own business is something most people approach with caution. But for Richard Boone, with the decision to start his own trucking company back in 2004, caution was thrown to the wind.
Boone said his small trucking company that is currently based in Hartland, N.B. is one that began with quite a unique start.
“We were founded in 2004 and at the time we had 12 trucks and eight owner/operators waiting for us to start a company, because the company they were dealing with was having difficulties,” he said. “They weren’t able to load until they got under different authorities. Most of these guys I had worked with before when I ran another trucking company, so they actually put a fair amount of pressure on us to get started. And so I started Professional Carriers and thankfully it worked out.”
From there, Boone said the company just grew into what it is today.
Currently, Professional Carriers runs 57 trucks and 63 trailers, hauling mostly food and other refrigerated items. The company employs mostly owner/operators, though recently it hired two company drivers.
For only being just over a decade old, the company has figured out what works and what doesn’t in terms of gaining success. It boasts a below-industry-average driver turnover rate, which Boone says is thanks in large part to the same drivers that forced him to start his company in the first place.
“We are fortunate to have very good drivers that have been part of our success,” he said. “They’ve referred many drivers to us over the years and we’re very thankful for that. I think one of our strengths is that just like how we started, we’re all helping each other succeed and helping each other grow. We make it a point to have regular meetings to discuss our progress and what is working and what isn’t.”
Bill Lunn, an owner/operator who had been with Professional Carriers since its inception said he’s stuck around because, “It’s a good company to work for and they look after us.”
He added there its always work to do, which he appreciates, and that one perk is that Professional Carriers “runs good, newer equipment.”
Tina Pelkey, comptroller, who has also been with Professional since the get-go says that she thinks the drivers have stuck around because of the atmosphere the company strives to provide each and every day.
“I think what makes us maybe a little bit different is, right from the start we’ve always been a respectful workplace,” she said. “We honour the word respect, we try to give it and we try to get it. And many people who have come through this office have said, ‘Whoa! It’s so quiet in here!’ And sure, most of the day we’ve got our heads down but we’re getting our jobs done while trying to maintain a respectful environment.”
Pelkey went on to say at the beginning of the company’s birth, it had what was called the “Truth Chair” where she would sit drivers down to learn more about who they were and where they came from.
“We’ve tried to keep it going,” she said. “And we try really hard to keep it respectful in a very fast environment that trucking can be most of the time, and we are lucky to have a lot of long-term employees and drivers.”
Though Boone says his company has its success, it isn’t immune to the driver shortage, especially since it hires experienced drivers only.
“There are times when we are looking for drivers,” said Boone. “Which makes our biggest challenge, our biggest asset: people. We have really good people. And we know going forward it’s going to be harder to maintain that with all the competition and lack of young people who want to get into the industry.”
Pelkey agreed, adding, “I think the ability to attract drivers in the future will become more difficult because there are not a lot of young people out there that are willing to do this for a living. It’s a big sacrifice to be away from their family for weeks or days at a time.”
George Boone, Richard’s son, who is general manager of Professional Carriers, said to get more drivers interested in the industry, they first must be educated.
“I think we need to get young people educated and aware of the opportunities in trucking,” he said. “There’s a lot of people across the country who don’t understand what we do and I think we need to get in front of that and then we can have a healthy industry like everyone else. It does take time, effort and labour to do this. I think everyone is concentrated on this, at least, I know we are.”
Professional Carriers also likes to live up to its name, by putting a focus on driver training. It offers a day-long orientation to new hires, where Boone personally speaks to all of the new drivers and explains the company’s respectful environment and professional attitude it expects.
Boone said that he expects the company to grow gradually in the
George added: “One of our strategies for growth is that we try to add diversification every time we grow. Like a variety of things to haul or different places for our drivers to go, so we can cater to those drivers who have an appetite for more miles. This helps make our drivers’ day become less stagnant.”
Boone said the key to the company’s success – people – will also be the key to its growth. “Of course, to have growth, you need to have the right people internally, which I believe we do,” he said.