Groupe Robert Inc.
Transport and logistics services
Primary market: Quebec, Ontario
Number of employees: 2,600
Vice-president (marketing): Jean-Robert Lessard
Groupe Robert keeps on trucking
The US recession, which has hit Canadian exporters hard, has also taken a bite out of those who deliver their goods. “Not too long ago 35 percent of our shipments were to the United States,” said Jean-Robert Lessard, vice-president (marketing) at Groupe Robert, a Quebec–based transport company. “But export deliveries are now just 30 percent of runs. That’s a lot of business that we had to make up.”
But make up Groupe Robert did. To compensate, the company, which boasts 1,100 trucks and 3,400 trailers in its line-up, has added clients in the wind farm, pulp and paper and mining industries, and has broadened the logistics services that it offers through its 16 warehouses.
Lessard joined Groupe Robert 28 years ago. The company is a family business, which its current president Claude Robert took over in 1962, when it had just eight trucks. Three of Claude’s kids, work at the business, one of which, his son Michel, who is now 40, is expected to take over one day.
Lessard attributes the company’s success to its effective fleet management and its ability to attract new drivers, which is surprisingly difficult, even during a time of high unemployment. “People aren’t as willing to be away from their families for extended periods of time like they used to in the old days,” Lessard explains. “Even though industry salaries are quite good, to many, it’s not worth it.”
Like many trucking companies, Groupe Robert has taken significant steps on the environmental front. Trucks are notoriously big polluters, but the company is reducing its footprint by reducing driver idling time (a major exhaust producer), increasing its vehicles’ aerodynamic profile and most recently, by ordering a new line of natural gas fired trucks.
© 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998
Peter Diekmeyer Communications Inc.