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COMPETITION WATCH: HGC moves into new digs, expands service offerings

CALEDON, Ont. -- As the Canadian trucking industry was just beginning to spiral into a deep freight recession ...

CALEDON, Ont. — As the Canadian trucking industry was just beginning to spiral into a deep freight recession and a period of global economic uncertainty in 2007, refrigerated goods carrier HGC was shopping for land.

Jas Shoker, president of the 100-truck fleet, unveiled the company’s new 45,000-plus sq.-ft. headquarters, warehouse and shop in mid-June. Perched on six acres of land at 34 Perdue Ct. in Caledon, just north of the fleet’s former head office in Brampton, the new facility boasts reflective blue-tinted glass, modern offices, a tractor-trailer wash bay, a 12,000 sq.-ft. shop and 15,000 sq.-ft. of warehouse space.

“I know it was a tough time last year but we are getting out from there and that’s good,” Shoker told during a visit to the facility.

The new terminal was built with drivers and owner/operators in mind. They will soon be able to drop their truck at the terminal after a trip, enjoy their 36-hour reset period and then get back on the road without having to travel off-site to fuel up, weigh their load, wash their equipment or seek repairs. (The wash bay and shop are already up and running with the fuel island and in-ground scale yet to be installed).

“Soon, they’ll be able to drop their truck and go home and relax for 36 hours and when the come here to work again, the truck and trailer is cleaned, washed and ready to go,” said Shoker. “They’ll just have to do an inspection and go.”

HGC hauls produce to Ontario and as far east as Nova Scotia from Texas, California and other regions where good things grow. Having just moved into its new digs, the company clearly has some swagger in its step. Shoker said he plans to grow the fleet by 25% within a year, and is launching an LTL division as well as a new direct service to Mexico. Shoker recently returned from Mexico where he met with a partner there who will take HGC’s trailers into Mexico and then turn them back over to HGC drivers at the border for the return trip to Canada. The Mexico service should be up and running within weeks, Shoker said.

“Nobody likes it in Mexico,” he said of the new opportunity. But isn’t he worried about his trailers?

“Of course!” he said. “I’ve said, ‘I want my trailer back as I gave it to you, I want it in the same shape, I don’t want tires missing or lights missing!’ They’re (HGC’s new Mexican amigo) a good company though.”

HGC currently runs a fleet of late model Kenworths and Freightliners, but Shoker admits he’s wary of the new emissions packages coming into the market. The new equipment has him considering buying used trucks for the first time.

“That’s my second option,” he said. “The drivers don’t like used trucks but for the company, I think the best idea is to buy used trucks right now and wait another year. I will maybe buy a few (new) trucks but I won’t be buying seven in one shot.”

However he decides to grow the business, Shoker is sure of one thing; the future is bright. He stopped short of predicting where the company may be in five or 10 years, but said he’s optimistic about its future.



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