In It for the Long Haul
Gorski Bulk Transport
Backed by 58 years of experience and an extensive fleet of tank trailers, Gorski Bulk Transport (GBT) is a leading transportation company providing a vital link between two nations…
Headquartered in Oldcastle (Windsor), ON, and with satellite offices in Oakville, ON and Detroit, MI, GBT specializes in transporting liquid and dry bulk between the United States and Canada. Commonly transported items range from automotive parts to petroleum and specialty chemicals, which are shipped in specially-designed, state of the art trucks.
GBT’s story began in 1957 when Ted Gorski Sr launched a humble transportation business from his backyard. “He originally had a small fertilizer company,” remembers his son and current CEO, Ted Gorski Jr. “He sold the business and was left with one tank trailer and inventory. A local company had need of the inventory and my father’s neighbour had a tractor, so the two men brought the fertilizer over to the company and prevented a plant shutdown.”
The client was thrilled to get the delivery so quickly. “The company was normally served by rail and the railroad was taking eight days to make a delivery. [My father] figured he could make that delivery in eight hours. And that was the start.” The success of that delivery inspired Ted Sr to take on more work and the business quickly took off. “It just kept growing from there.”
A half-century later, GBT remains family owned and is guided by the same client-first mentality. Just ask the company that bought that first load of inventory from GBT in 1957 – it remains a client to this day. The secret to maintaining clients for decades and growing a successful business from nothing is pretty straightforward, Mr. Gorski believes. “There is no real secret to success; it is a lot of work. It is about being focused on customer service; it is having a great focus on safety and on financial fitness. In the absence of customer service, in the absence of a safe operation, it is very hard to have a good business.”
People also play a vital role, of course. “We have had great staff, great employees,” Mr. Gorski points out. The company culture is tight knit and supportive, encouraging employees to reach their full potential. “One of the fun things with having a family business is that everyone is part of our family.” Management wants to give every employee an opportunity to have a lasting career, not just a job. “It is important for us that people make a good living, that they have a career path opened to them. We give them the tools they need to succeed.” As a result, customers enjoy the benefits of competent, dedicated staff, creating a win-win situation for GBT, its employees, and its customers.
Safety is paramount at GBT. “We want to make sure that everybody has the training, tools, and support that they need to do their job and return safely at the end of the day.” An extensive safety program helps keep the team on the right track. “We have regular safety meetings with the drivers and staff, keeping them up to date with the latest things happening in the industry, where we need to improve, and recognizing where they are succeeding.”
In addition, GBT utilizes the latest, safest equipment to ensure drivers stay safe on the road. “We have an ongoing commitment to modernize our fleet,” Mr. Gorski reports. “Having good, safe, modern equipment on the road is important.” Furthermore, all of the tank trailers in the new fleet utilize the same basic design to make it easy for drivers to switch from one vehicle to another. “Our drivers are familiar with how the tank trailers operate, how to handle them. We feel that is an important part of making sure that the drivers have the best environment for success for operating safely.”
GBT’s safety efforts have yielded an impeccable record, earning the company 23 awards for safety within the last decade, and the company credits its Team for this success. “The important part [regarding] safety is the recognition of our employees’ commitment to safety because none of these safety awards that we have received would have been possible without our staff, our drivers and our owner operators. They have done an outstanding job of maintaining the service that we believe in and they have made it a part of their lives.”
As an ISO 9001:2008 registered company, GBT is focused on continuous improvement. This commitment covers safety efforts as well as other aspects of the company’s operations. “It helps us maintain the discipline that we need [so that] our quality control program stays intact through all aspects of the business,” Mr. Gorski explains. The company has also been a supporter of the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) for over 40 years, with Mr. Gorski serving as the NTTC’s Chairman for the 2004-2005 term.
Overall, the state of the industry looks positive, but a driver shortage is creating a challenge that affects GBT and similar companies throughout the United States and Canada. “An ATA [American Trucking Association] report estimates that close to 40,000 drivers are needed today just to fill the shortage that is out there,” Mr. Gorski shares. “The driver shortage is unfortunately going to be with us for many more years to come.”
Today’s ever present security concerns add to the problem. “We do deal in high security times now. There are a lot more restrictions and a lot more regulations [regarding what] the drivers are required to hold to maintain their license to operate as international drivers.” Some drivers feel they have no other choice but to simply quit the industry rather than deal with the hassle of extra regulations. The logical solution is to actively recruit and prepare the next generation of drivers in order to keep trucks on the road. “We are trying to make sure that we have ramped up our training and our support program so that we make it as easy as possible for the drivers to be successful in the industry.”
Finding and retaining drivers has become key to succeeding within the industry, pitting companies against one another in a bid to attract available drivers. GBT is committed to operating at its very best to attract and retain hard-to-find talent. “We want to be the professional company, the safe company, that people want to drive for, that people want to be part of.”
Indeed, GBT has grown nearly 50 percent over the last five years, and much of that growth can be traced back to the company’s commitment to its employees and customers. “Our customers keep coming back and supporting us,” Mr. Gorski remarks. “They like the reliability and dependability of what we do.” New customers continue coming on board as well, steadily expanding the company’s stable customer base. “We’ve got a very solid customer base and, as the economy recovers from the economic downturn, we are in the right position with the right equipment. We are able to grow with the expansion and the economy. We are able to recruit enough drivers to support that growth and at the same time, by having the safety programs, by making sure we are doing everything with good financial fitness, we are able to support our growth.”
GBT plans to continue moving forward with an emphasis on steady, reasonable growth, even if it means slowing down a bit. “We recognize that continued growth is important. But there are no guarantees in business, and if we don’t have a sound strategy for controlled growth, changes in the market can easily erode some of the gains that we have put in place. We want to make sure that we have put the right measures in place to support our growth and to continue the growth.”
Understanding the complexities involved, the team is laying out a careful plan that keeps long-term goals at the forefront. “We are not interested in following a path that may just be a short term gain,” Mr. Gorski explains. “In the end, we want to make sure that we have continued growth and success.”
GBT’s long-term plan emphasizes opportunities in international transport. “We see great synergy between Canada and the United States. Our primary area of focus is working on those international routes and those industries that have ongoing trade between those countries.” The team is also eager to welcome the next generation to GBT. “I am second generation in the business and we would like to get the third generation involved with the business. We have plans underway for that.” As GBT prepares for a generational shift and an evolving marketplace, the team will continue to hold on to the values – and clients – that have made the company successful for 58 years, ensuring that GBT is well prepared for the long haul.