Q&A with Tiger Trucking’s transportation head, James Johnstone


Big Tiger has come a good distance because the low cost retailer secured its first vans to serve shops in Japanese Ontario. Thirty-five years later its non-public fleet, Tiger Trucking, counts 150 energy models, 400 trailers, 300 intermodal containers, and 60 chassis that serve 260 areas throughout Canada.

TruckNews.com spoke with James Johnstone, head of transportation at Big Tiger, throughout the fleet’s 35th anniversary celebrations in Johnstown, Ontario, to debate the group’s philosophy.

James Johnstone, head of transportation at Giant Tiger
James Johnstone, head of transportation at Big Tiger, addresses a crowd celebrating the fleet’s thirty fifth anniversary and opening of a brand new upkeep facility. (Picture: 18PercentPhotography)

Q. One of many belongings you’re celebrating at present [Sept. 14] is the opening of a devoted on-site store run by Penske Truck Leasing and Frigid. What led you to determine this was a model you needed to embrace?

There isn’t a whole lot of main service facilities in our space, and there’s one thing missing by having to shuttle a truck at the least an hour every solution to get service. For us, it simply made sense from a security, environmental and folks perspective to have that service carried out right here – to save lots of the miles, save the gasoline, and put somebody doing productive work versus simply shuttling empties forwards and backwards. And from our companions’ perspective, there’s so a lot better care and management of the property right here. We’re capable of deal with issues a lot faster, and the lag time is completely lowered.

The expansion of our fleet actually referred to as out how a lot time we have been spending, shuttling gear from A to B. We’re one of many largest fleets in Japanese Canada – definitely one of many largest non-public fleets in all of Canada. It was time to chop down on the lead time for elements and repair and get these vans again on the highway sooner.

Q. Now that is simply one of many newest investments you’ve made in your individual fleet. Why is non-public trucking a greater possibility for Big Tiger than outsourcing the work to dedicated-contract or for-hire carriers?

There’s a transparent financial savings. We’re paying our prices. There’s no markup. There’s no revenue on that. And our drivers are actually invested within the firm, our tradition, our communities. So, we’re capable of get the very best service, the very best gear, the very best drivers for the lowest-possible value.

Over the previous couple of years our security scores have additionally improved dramatically. Final 12 months, [the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s fleet safety awards named Tiger Trucking] the most-improved fleet. Inside our area, we’re hoping to be the very best. We’re all the time striving to be #1 when it comes to security. It’s simply the accountable factor to do.

Giant Tiger distribution center
The Johnstown distribution middle options 54 loading docks and may accommodate 200 vans. (Picture: 18PercentPhotography)

There’s been a whole lot of provide chain points throughout the board, and we’ve been insulated from them as a result of we’ve had our personal capabilities. We didn’t know there could be a pandemic, after which wildfires and floods, all of the catastrophes we’ve needed to take care of. However as a result of we’ve had our personal individuals, most of the time, everybody will step up when there’s one thing further to do. Everybody understands what it means to the corporate general. You possibly can’t get that from a for-hire service. They simply don’t have the identical funding within the tradition and the corporate.

Q. The place does Tiger Trucking develop from right here?

As we proceed to open shops we’ll proceed to right-size our fleet to keep up the proper steadiness. Proper now we’ve taken over the overwhelming majority of all of our recent and frozen [food] distribution throughout Ontario, Quebec, and within the Maritimes.

Q. How are you sourcing the brand new truck drivers it is advisable to assist that development?

We’ve got an exceptional in-house coaching program the place we’ll take somebody from the warehouse and improve their expertise slowly by way of accredited establishments. They’ll work their method as much as turning into a shunt truck driver after which a DZ driver, then a regional truck driver, after which by way of a really protected setting the place they will graduate to turning into a long-term AZ driver with the pay and the advantages that comes with that.

They’ve already joined our group. They’re a part of the tradition. So we’re sort of rising the subsequent crop ourselves – however we’re [also] persevering with to rent, to interchange guys which have earned their time and are able to retire.

Q. This distribution middle in Johnstown, Ontario, is comparatively remoted, and it’s honest to say that it’s not a trucking hotbed just like the western Better Toronto Space. Does that current a problem when it comes to with the ability to discover candidates searching for trucking jobs?

One factor this neighborhood doesn’t have a scarcity of is hardworking people with nice ethical character and a willingness to study. We’ve had an incredible response from the native labor market when it comes to becoming a member of our fleet. The long run development [includes] individuals which are developing by way of the ranks, the forklift operators you hear within the background at present

Giant Tiger million milers
Tiger Trucking acknowledged a number of drivers for 1, 2, 3 and even 4-million-mile careers. (Picture: 18PercentPhotography)

Q. Throughout at present’s ceremonies, you additionally honored drivers who’ve logged 1, 2, 3 and 4 million miles. How have you ever managed to draw and hold these extremely skilled individuals in your group, given that also they are coveted by different fleets?

Right here, everyone seems to be compensated pretty, they’re compensated by the hour, and our tradition is security and repair. We’ve had drivers that ‘boomerang’, who go away as a result of they see a posting some place else, and are available proper again. The setting that we provide our drivers is extremely scheduled. You possibly can see the gear we provide them. They’re handled very nicely. They’re revered – and I feel that’s one thing that’s been missing all through the business. By and enormous, the driving force scarcity has been self-inflicted by a whole lot of carriers. We perceive that, and whether or not it’s a driver or anybody else on our group, they’re all handled the identical method and so they recognize that. It goes a good distance.

Q. What’s the important thing to sustaining that dedication to security, recognizing that there’s additionally strain to maintain issues rolling?

There may be a whole lot of strain to maintain issues rolling, to maintain utilization up. We don’t wish to have further vans for the sake of getting vans. However we do a pre- and post-trip on each unit that comes out and in of right here for each driver, so the vans are touched a number of instances earlier than they return out. We go somewhat overboard, however Big Tiger is a really community-oriented group and retailer. The very last thing we wish to do is put somebody in peril.

And you may’t miss these vans once they’re taking place the highway. You chop any individual off and so they’re going to know who to name, proper?

We do have some drivers that are available in from different organizations which are “go, go, go”. We’re “hey, decelerate. It’s OK. You’re being paid whether or not you’re in visitors, whether or not you’re ready.” There’s nothing on that truck that’s value risking your security or the general public.

  • This interview has been edited for size and readability


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