One Stop Solution

Critical Path Express

“I was a driver for a Toronto based courier company and decided to strike out on my own,” recalls Critical Path founder and President Greg Doff. “There were three of us and we started out in the basement of my house.” Critical path has since grown to operate out of five locations.

Strategies for Success

Several key strategies have helped Critical Path reach its current level of success. First, the team has always kept a close eye on where the industry is headed and what it requires. This understanding has led the company to expand from a small package delivery start-up to a full logistics provider with warehousing and temperature control capabilities. Staying ahead of industry trends has come naturally because client satisfaction has always been a number one goal, Mr. Doff explains. The company’s focused growth, he says, “came from listening to our clients, looking out for their needs and watching industry trends.”

Striving to meet client needs has armed Critical Path with the ability to deliver a broad range of services to an extremely diversified client base. “We have clients in every business sector,” Mr. Doff reports.

“Flexibility and a can-do attitude” have also been crucial, adds Bill West, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “We do not say ‘no’ or ‘we can’t’. It simply isn’t in our vocabulary. Everyone in the company is ready to pitch in at a moment’s notice to get the job done – no exceptions.”

The team’s commitment to customer satisfaction means always going the extra mile, no matter how challenging – or bizarre. For instance, a film set once requested that Critical Path deliver an elk leg for a wolf pack to devour during a movie scene. The team immediately agreed to find and deliver the unusual request. “Then we hung up the phone and we said, ‘how the heck are we going to do that?’” Mr. West remembers. “Where do you find an elk leg?” The impossibility of the situation didn’t faze the team, however. “We try to never say no,” Mr. West insists. “You just figure it out.” And they did. They located the coveted item far away in the Yukon – and after a grueling journey via dog sled and Greyhound bus, the elk leg arrived just in time for its film debut.

Services and Solutions

A solid understanding of where the industry is headed has led the team to strategically branch out into a number of specialized areas. The move has allowed the company to stay ahead of the competition, General Manager Joanna Hurd explains. Areas of expertise are remarkably broad and cover the full gamut of shipping and storage solutions.

To stay on top of each area of specialization, the company has made it a rule to invest in the latest and best technology. Keeping abreast of regulations and red tape has also been crucial. For instance, Critical Path is a U.S. bonded carrier as well as a registered shipper for Transport Canada’s rigorous Air Cargo Security Program (ACS). Maintaining a loyal staff with a low turnover rate also ensures that each team member is experienced and knowledgeable within their respective divisions.

Temperature controlled storage and transport is one important area of specialization for Critical Path. The ability to maintain an exact temperature and humidity level throughout shipping and storage is vital for sensitive products like pharmaceuticals or chocolate. Critical Path’s shipping containers and warehouse facilities utilize state of the art temperature and humidity control equipment to ensure that products are stored in an ideal environment. The system is also designed to send an emergency alert if temperatures rise or fall beyond a predetermined point. “We are immediately notified on all our Blackberries and we can take the necessary steps,” Mr. West explains. Critical Path has been so successful in creating a complete, temperature controlled transport supply chain that the team has been called upon to help other businesses develop their own systems.

Perishable consumer goods are frequently stored in Critical Path’s temperature controlled facilities, but the warehouses are capable of storing a wide variety of items. For example, the team is responsible for storing and managing a massive number of media assets. Prior to partnering with Critical Path a national broadcasting corporation had over 200,000 original digital tapes scattered across several locations – none of which were temperature controlled. Now the entire collection is safely housed in a Critical Path warehouse.

Critical Path is also experienced in third party logistics. For this service, the company represents businesses that want an active presence in Canada without making the bricks and mortar commitment. The team is able to take the reins completely, handling everything from the initial order through to delivery. Critical Path actually represents the client. “We manage everything,” Mr. West explains. “In effect, we basically become [that company] in Canada.”

Critical Path also provides complete experiential marketing support. The company supplies the drivers, vehicles, management, and planning for every event from start to finish. “It takes away the worry for our clients, so they can focus on selling more products,” Mr. West explains. The team also provides vital services for the aviation industry. When an aircraft is grounded, the cost in lost revenue can be extreme – an astronomical $50,000 per hour in some cases. Therefore, an AOG (Aircraft on the Ground) calls for swift and immediate action. “If we get a call from a client that says it’s an AOG, then it’s all hands on deck,” Mr. West reports. Whether it is by car, truck, flight, boat, barge, or dogsled – it doesn’t matter. No matter how, it has to get there. That’s what we do.”

Future Plans

The team plans to continue growing and evolving the company to stay in line with clients’ changing needs. Solid communication and hands on management will continue to be the key to ongoing success, Mr. West insists. Listening to customers is crucial to ensure they remain satisfied. “You don’t last 25 plus years without being customer focused.”

After recently forming an exciting new relationship with MNX, the team is also open to developing more joint ventures in the near future. “We are always looking for additional strategic partnerships,” Mr. West reports. From humble beginnings to a shipping success story, Critical Path is eager to continue leading the market. “We’re really looking forward to the future,” Mr. Doff remarks.

December 14, 2017, 10:02 AM EST