Groupe Trans-West Logistics
Transportation and logistics
Primary market: North America
Number of employees: 440
President: Réal Gagnon
Group Trans-West keeps on trucking
Like many SME operators, Réal Gagnon grew up in a family business - in his case a trucking company. So it should come as no surprise that when he decided to set out on his own it would be by buying his own rig. “I love the industry,” says Gagnon, president of Groupe Trans-West Logistics. “I started driving when I was seventeen and continued for twelve years. By eventually we got so big I had to focus more on management. But I still go out on the road whenever I can.”
These days that isn’t too often. Gagnon’s considerable responsibilities include overseeing the company’s 180 trucks, 400 vans and a 50,000 square-foot warehouse. Managing the company’s rapid growth hasn’t been easy. “One of our major challenges is finding new drivers,” says Gagnon. “Although the job pays well, the younger generation is not as willing to spend as much time away from home as their parents were.”
Gagnon attributes the company’s recent success to its ability to effectively integrate a new management level into operations. “When I started out I was pretty much able to oversee everything on my own,” notes Gagnon. “However during subsequent growth phases, we had to hire a variety of mid-level executives in areas such as IT, and elsewhere. But working through people is not easy and I had to learn it gradually.” Another key has been to minimize idle time by keeping company trucks filled, both on their initial haulage routes to US clients and by finding return loads to ship back to Canada.
Taking on a management “coach” also helped. “I approached an old friend who had considerable business experience and asked him if he could mentor me,” said Gagnon. “Having the opportunity to air out problems and get feedback from a seasoned pro has been a major asset.”
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