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COMPETITION WATCH: Does purchase signal change in growth strategy for Bison Transport?

WINNIPEG, Man. -- The purchases of Glenncoe Transport and Winfield Motor Freight mark a change from past growth str...

WINNIPEG, Man. — The purchases of Glenncoe Transport and Winfield Motor Freight mark a change from past growth strategy for Bison Transport, which has chosen to fuel its considerable expansion over the past decade through organic growth.

But the purchase of the two Kelowna, B.C.-based companies was an opportunity too good to pass up, according to Bison president Don Streuber, who initiated the discussions a couple of months ago with the Coe family which has owned and operated both companies since 1972.

It was the right time and the right marketplace and we found a company with a culture that blended together very well with ours, which was extremely important, said Streuber, whose operation has amassed an impressive array of top industry awards for management practices, safety, sustainable transportation strategies, and customer service excellence.

The purchase does not necessarily signal a future change in growth strategy for Bison, however, Jeff Pries, vice president, sales & marketing, pointed out. What it does reflect is Bisons continued emphasis on the Western Canada market.

The acquisition follows on the heels of several recent expansions and new service launches, including the opening of a new terminal and maintenance facility in Calgary, a new Intermodal Division connecting Ontario with Western Canada, a Refrigerated Division serving US and Canada, and a rapid expansion of Bisons turnpike double operations (twin 53 trailers) in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

There is a visible momentum to the Western economy that translates in particular to increased inbound freight, said Streuber.

Glenncoe Transport is a truckload carrier, primarily serving B.C., Alberta and the US Pacific Northwest. Winfield Motor Freight is an LTL service provider connecting B.C.s coast with the Interior of the province. The two companies will continue to be run as separate businesses but they will receive administrative, systems, and marketing support from Bison.

There is some crossover of the customer base but that is not a concern, according to Pries.

We havent really competed with them. We share some of the same customers but with fairly clear lane definition. For example, we may haul for the same client but they do it in British Columbia and we do it in the Prairies, he explained.

The purchase also represents a foray into the LTL market for Bison but Pries said that doesnt necessarily mean that Bison will start offering LTL services with its main operation.

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