CHILLIWACK, B.C. – Triton Transport’s motto may as well be “go big or go home” because if its drivers don’t haul the big stuff, they can park their rig in the driveway.
Triton is a transportation company based in British Columbia that specializes in oversize, overweight equipment, and mainly services the oil, mining, and infrastructure industries. The company has been steadily growing over the last decade and has appropriately positioned itself as one of the largest and most well-known heavy-haul carriers in the province.
Triton Transport, once a one-man operation, is now one of B.C.’s largest heavy-haul carriers. It serves mostly the oil and mining industries in Western Canada.
Behind the company’s success is its president, Murray Scadeng, who humbly says the growth and prosperity of the company is really thanks to the people he works with every day.
Triton began back in 1987 as a one-truck operation under the name Avonvale Transport. Scadeng was the only employee back then and worked out of his home hauling contactor’s equipment around Vancouver. In 1997, Avonvale, which over the first decade of its existence had grown thanks in part to Vancouver’s booming home construction industry, was looking to get into the mining and forestry sectors. In 1998 Joe Bragg who was well-versed in multi-jurisdictional heavy-haul trucking, became a partner of Avonvale and the company changed its name to Triton Transport.
“And we’ve just sort of grown from there,” said Scadeng.
In 1999, the company moved to Langley, B.C. on five acres of property and then in 2006, because of increased demand for heavy-haul services in Western Canada, it opened an Edmonton facility. The company’s headquarters is located in Chilliwack, B.C. – a move made in July 2014. It has approximately 65 trucks and 90 trailers today.
The challenges of the trucking industry are appropriately magnified when you look at them from a heavy-hauling perspective. Planning with a customer, for example, is much more complicated than your typical transport company. Scadeng says depending on the complexity of the project, Triton’s project managers will work with customers to organize a plan to move equipment months – and sometimes years – in advance of a scheduled delivery.
“If a big load is running through several jurisdictions, just the permitting process can take up to two months,” he said. “If someone calls us and they need something moved that is very large and very heavy, it’s not possible to move it in a few days. We are often working with clients up to a year ahead. Our project managers will often plan a move months and months in advance. It’s a long way from answering the phone and providing a number of trucks for the number of loads that a customer has. Our interaction with our customers is complicated, but it’s a partnership.”
As well, the problem of the industry’s driver shortage is maximized when you look at the heavy-haul side. Transport companies across North America are scrambling to find drivers, simply because no one is interested in sitting in a truck all day. Try finding someone who wants to drive and knows how to be cautious and haul a giant piece of mining equipment (and you thought you had it rough).
“The driver knowledge that goes with this job is extensive,” said Scadeng. “Very often the driver is doing the loading and unloading themselves. All our drivers have very specialized knowledge about how to haul heavy equipment. It takes a long time to get drivers who are used to driving a certain truck to driving heavy-haul because it’s just so different.”
Scadeng says although finding drivers hasn’t been a problem for him yet (he says the company has a lot of long-standing drivers and a very low turnover rate) he claims the company’s biggest challenge is attracting younger people who want to work in the industry, both in driving and staff positions. But that’s not to say Triton isn’t trying. It has recently tried to focus on younger people joining the business and made some changes to the way it operates day-to-day.
“We work hard to attract and retain younger people through communication – we spend a lot of time with communications,” he said. “All of our employees have a company iPhone and an e-mail account and we communicate constantly…because sometimes our drivers are gone for weeks at a time and communication is important. We recognize the younger people demand a better work-life balance than the previous generation and we work hard to try and do that for them here.”
Scadeng says he believes his drivers have stuck around with him because of the community and stability Triton provides to its employees.
“I think we do look hard to look after our people, we have one of the best pay and benefit structures in our industry,” he said
Triton’s commitment to better the lives of their employees was recognized this year when it was named one of Canada’s Top Fleet Employers by Trucking HR Canada. The award recognizes carriers that offer the best workplaces in Canada’s trucking industry. Fleets were rated on things like compensation, lifestyle and employee engagement.
Despite the challenges in the heavy-haul biz, Triton is coming out on top, a distinguished fleet that is obviously doing something (or many things) right. Scadeng says the company is only doing so well because of the staff that back up the Triton name every day.
“Our biggest strength is our people,” he said. “We’ve got a very smart hard-working group of young managers and we’ve got hard-working and smart drivers and we try to stay ahead of the curve in heavy-haul. Our trailing equipment in particular our trailers, stay on the leading edge of trailer development and innovation, which enables us to bring loads on lighter, smaller trailers…I think that we try and stay on ahead of where our markets are going.”
Scadeng also noted Triton’s diverse customer base that stretches across many industries and places in Western Canada and the Western United States.
“We don’t have all of our eggs in one basket which is particularly important for the economy at this moment,” he said.
Looking ahead, Scadeng said the long- and short-term goals for the company is to continue its steady growth.
Earlier this year, Triton acquired the majority of Davey Cartage, a specialized equipment company. Scadeng said the purchase has allowed the company to stand out as the dominant carrier in Western Canada steering dollies that can move overweight and long items like bridge girders and trusses. Scadeng says the company is still looking for purchases and always has its eye out for ways to grow and succeed.
“We’re always looking to grow steadily where it makes sense,” he said. “We’re always keeping our eye out for purchases that make sense for us. But we’re a private company so we grow carefully and cautiously based on what we can afford.”