Relationships and Innovation
TimeLine Logistic was launched in 2010 and had its sights set on the on the front of the end of the nuclear fuel cycle from the beginning. “We do everything from hauling the ore out of Saskatoon here to taking fuel into the power plants. With the depressed market in oil and gas, this past year’s been a struggle, but we’ve been able to keep our core customers, and with our nuclear business being ready to come online, it’s actually been able to boost us up and help compensate for the depressed oil market,” says President Troy Stimpson.
To say TimeLine Logistic President Troy Stimpson has an unusual attitude about audits would be a considerable understatement.
“We’ve been audited by six different companies twice. When these folks arrive, they look at safety, security, maintenance on our equipment, service to our clients, our compliance with regulations and more – usually over two days. I really appreciate their close attention because it keeps us on our toes. Their reports provide us opportunities to fill gaps. I’ve been in this industry a long time, and I’ve never seen a trucking company like us. We’ve been audited more in the last nine months than most companies in the entire history of their company,” he shares.
“Getting into the nuclear carrier market is very demanding. We had to show them we could ship safely, efficiently and cost effectively. We had to reach higher and are certified to both International Standards Organization (ISO) ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This is the necessary benchmark for the nuclear industry to work with you. Out of the 300,000 to 400,000 carriers in North America, there are very few of us that can do what we do.”
In 2013 and 2014, TimeLine was listed as one of the top twenty companies to drive for in North America. “Our biggest thing is that we are a family-owned company, and we treat everybody like family. We don’t just want to hire quality drivers but keep them. Retaining them is key. When we hire somebody, we work hard to ensure that we meet their needs, so we adapt to them. We’re the first carrier in western Canada to use electronic logbooks; all our trucks are satellite tracked. It takes away a lot of the extra work drivers do. They don’t have to worry about the logbooks; they just get in the truck and drive.”
Relationships with customers are the lifeblood of any business, and TimeLine uses cutting-edge technology to keep its clients up to date. “If you go onto our website, you can see that our customers can log in, and they can actually look at all the orders that they’ve tendered to us. If there are any of their orders on our trucks, they can see where the trucks are in almost real time. Clients can also request quotes and check out all their invoices, so this technology creates efficiencies for us that we can pass on to our customers.”
The downturn in the economy that began in 2008 and depressed oil and gas markets around the world hit Western Canada particularly hard. Even uranium prices are down twenty-five percent, but new nuclear plants are still being built overseas, and TimeLine has managed to grow its business despite the downturn. “We ship to lots of ports with product going to China, India, and Europe. Saskatchewan is kind of the hub for nuclear in Canada with all the uranium we have in northern Saskatchewan. The McArthur River mine, six hundred kilometres north of Saskatoon, is the largest in the world. As far as green power and large-scale dependable power, nuclear fits right in.”
Although the generation of nuclear power releases no carbon at all, the building of the plants and harvesting of the fuel do. Nonetheless, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared in 2014 that, apart from wind-generated power, nuclear has the lowest lifecycle emissions of any technology for generating electricity.
It is also safer than people think. “Hauling diesel is far more dangerous than hauling uranium.” Investing in low-carbon atomic energy generation will likely see TimeLine continue to grow well into the increasingly environmentally conscious future.
Technology and innovation are common threads through every business in the search for growth and competitive advantage, but TimeLine takes it to another level. “Our guiding principles are communication and cutting edge technology. We love technology and the opportunities it opens up; we really encourage people to think outside the box and do things differently. We implement this kind of thinking by meeting three or four times a week. Every Monday, we have a vision 20/20 meeting looking at different ways of being better and different ways of doing things. We create different projects for people to do. We want everyone in the company involved in making us better.”
Keeping its customers in oil and gas satisfied through this economic downturn and expanding into the elusive nuclear power shipping industry is no small feat and has been achieved through hard work and technology.
“Our integrated management system probably contributes the most to our success. We have taken our ISO 9001 and our ISO 14001 programs and integrated them into one all-encompassing program that drives our business. Our ISO auditor commented many times that most companies when they want to be ISO certified, try and mould their company around their management system, and it makes them do things they normally don’t do in the course of their day. We took ISO and moulded it around our company, and it helps us keep on track.”
Earning ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications are just the beginning of how TimeLine makes technology work for its drivers and clients. “With satellite tracking, we’re automatically able to provide updates to all of our customers, and again in the nuclear industry, they love that. We set up geofencing, so every time one of our drivers goes through a geofence, the computer automatically sends out an e-mail to our customers. We provide peace of mind because we monitor speeding, hard braking and routes almost in real time. If a driver is caught speeding, we crack down right away, and if there is an incident, we can use satellite tracking to figure out exactly what happened.”
“We also use state-of-the-art software that helps us manage our entire business. We use a program from a company from Saskatoon called Axon, and it does everything from accounting to payroll to order entering, tracking maintenance and providing us with reminders like renewing driver’s licenses to different training for all of our drivers. This technology is kind of a one-stop shop for all the administration for our company. We take technology seriously, and every time something new comes out, we try to be the first in line.”
Another key to TimeLine’s success is its relationship with Ryder truck leasing and rental. “We lease all our equipment from Ryder. We have a full maintenance lease on all our equipment, which stabilizes our costs. We have reduced our maintenance bill by about half every month. Ryder has allowed us to reduce our debt load while providing us with brand new trucks with a full maintenance lease. We went from spending about $65,000 a month in maintenance to $25,000 to $30,000.”
“We’re the first major carrier Ryder has in Saskatchewan. They have been a great partner to us right from the beginning. If I have a customer that I’m doing five loads a week for, and they want to ramp us up to ten, I call Ryder, and I’ll have five more trucks here tomorrow. At the same time, they provide greater reliability for me because if I have a truck break down, and Ryder can’t fix it in twenty-four hours, they give me another truck to replace it while it’s fixed. So the most I’m ever out is twenty-four hours, and the nuclear industry loves that.”
Growth comes through relationships with customers, partners, and employees as well as technological innovation, integration, and marketing. In the new Internet economy, social media and Facebook provide opportunities to connect in ways unimagined even twenty years ago.
“We use Facebook a lot, trying to post weekly to keep our staff and clients engaged. We actually have more followers on Facebook than we have staff, and I think that’s a testament to our people and our organization that keep our Facebook page active. We’ve been featured in different articles in the industry – the best place to drive for is a great marketing tool for us. We are members of the Saskatchewan Truckers Association and the Saskatoon Transportation club, and we go to different conferences throughout the year.”
TimeLine Logistic is heading boldly into the future, uniquely positioned to weather the challenges and opportunities. “You can do anything you want that you set your mind to. We’ve broken through all the certification barriers using both high technology and a co-operative management style and we’re off and running.”