As one of North America’s most trusted bulk transportation providers, Joseph Group Canada knows how to provide logistics solutions to suit its clients’ products, pockets, and schedules. From its base in Stoney Creek, Ontario, the company has seen significant growth in the past two years, expanding its physical footprint into London, Ontario and diversifying its services to effectively transport an ever-widening range of freight. Its staff count has also been growing, with around four hundred employees working for the group at present.
Having “survived the worst of the worst,” in his own words, Geoffrey Joseph, President and Chief Executive Officer, understands the transportation industry inside out. With years spent in a market that is most certainly not for the faint-hearted, he knows how to calmly handle adversity.
To this end, the company seized an opportunity to enter the fuel transportation business while that sector experienced severely reduced traffic volume during the COVID-19 crisis. It hung in there tenaciously, and today, the leap is paying off in lucrative ways. It also acquired, amongst others, a sister company specializing in food-grade tanker transportation. Back in its original Joseph Haulage firm, it continues to focus on moving construction materials with an equally fast-growing focus on tanker transportation of chemicals.
“Joseph Group is coming out bigger and stronger than ever. We are actively engaged in multiple acquisitions. We have a very strong growth strategy,” Geoffrey says.
As the company only buys firms with “proven successes,” the group is always eager to learn about how these companies do things in ways that can improve its overall performance. “We acquire good businesses,” Geoffrey says, noting that the first hundred days after an acquisition is used as a “learning period,” in which no changes are made but the company is studied to discover what makes it good. “Then we start to look at the best scenarios from both companies: ours and the acquisition company. Sometimes we see great things,” he adds. These approaches are then incorporated into the group. “So we’re ever-evolving.”
He is quick to admit that the group has an incredible staff. When it comes to marrying new teams with existing ones, it is important to continuously “improve the happiness of our new [and existing] family members.”
Joseph Group Canada is synonymous with accountability and service, and as a result, its growth and evolution have been able to hit an entirely new direction. Since we last spoke in 2021, the company has focused on training its teams as well as establishing Joseph U. Its in-house university is dedicated to instilling its culture and ethics and offers leadership training and improved safety programs for its clients and staff.
Nothing about Joseph Group is traditional, and that includes how it applies technology within the organization. This push has led it to next-day billing, increased remote work opportunities, and paperless systems.
As part of this drive, its trucks now have rear and forward-facing cameras, tremendously improving driver and cargo safety. Geoffrey tells me that drivers are beginning to realize the benefits of being able to prove their innocence during disputes.
“Footage is never viewed unless there is an incident, and when that incident does happen, the driver is also present during the [review] of the footage. Our drivers see the value, and they don’t want to go to work unless their cameras are working,” Geoffrey says.
Electronic logging devices have been becoming standard in the transportation industry. Always ahead, Joseph Group already kitted out all its vehicles with the latest equipment to track and follow cargo in real time and has been keeping it updated.
The company also makes a point of listening to its drivers. In addition, its custom truck program rewards drivers by letting them personalize and choose their trucks’ extras. These include leather seats, sleeping quarters, and microwaves. Drivers even get to put their names on their trucks. “The program is about the sense of pride that our drivers have for their and our equipment,” he says.
All the investments meant swiftly adapting to the changes brought about by COVID-19 was easy. Not only could the company go into remote work mode almost overnight, but it also ensured that its people had all the support they needed. “We put people before profit. We made sure that our managers understood empathy,” Geoffrey says, underlining that parents working from home could not always be available during traditional office hours if they had to take care of children while working. The leadership team touched base regularly, “ensuring that people were adjusting well to working remotely.”
Joseph Group did not lay off staff and continued paying people during the shelter-in-place period to guarantee their financial security. “We put a couple of million dollars into that program and said that when we come out of this, we are going to have a stronger buy-in from our team because we stuck by them during COVID.” Geoffrey points out that the staff members of some of the company’s competitors were not as lucky since job losses and salary cuts were commonplace in the industry during this time.
All of its hard work and dedication have returned in meaningful ways, and the company has been the proud recipient of several awards, including Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer. It has also made consistent appearances on the Canadian Business Growth 500-list, amongst others.
Joseph Group’s heart is even bigger than its fleet of over three hundred vehicles and trailers, and the company is particularly dedicated to charities supporting children. The team takes around one thousand inner-city children to the cinema every year. It also issues scholarships that include books and whatever technology they may need. This has led to great success stories already.
“Last year through COVID, we gave out about ten X-boxes and PlayStations to various kids. We couldn’t get enough of them, so my son ended up donating his X-box. We did home visits with people. Charity is a big thing for Joseph Group,” says Geoffrey, who says that if the company can change one child’s life, “That’s enough of a reward.”
Looking toward the end of 2022 and into 2023, the company has plans for new headquarters. The building will be constructed at a new location in its home town. “We’ll have an open and very exciting workspace. There will be a coffee shop in the restaurant, and a very open, light, and bright work environment,” he says.
Further ahead, the goal is to do even more for existing customers than before, doubling both profitability and revenue. The plan to get there is deceptively straightforward. “Zero accidents, zero injuries, service failures, zero turnover, and one team, one call, one voice, number one drivers, and number one staff,” as Geoffrey puts it. While the company continues to acquire more companies to join its portfolio, steady, organic growth remains its aim.