Tuned Up: Coastal Pacific Express Inc.


I had imagined the trucking industry would be harried and bare-bones utilitarian. Had I badly misjudged? Lew Donald shakes his head. “No. Other trucking companies are nothing like this,” he says, refilling his coffee mug in the spacious drivers’ lounge, complete with its own Internet station where drivers can check email or play games while waiting for trucks to load. “I’ve worked at quite a few places, and it’s pretty ugly. Everyone’s rushing around, angry, even bitter. When I came here to drop off my resumé, I couldn’t believe everyone was smiling. And it’s honestly like that every day.” Donald works in what is probably the company’s highest-stress zone, the dispatch office. Closed off from the other work areas, it hums with ringing phones and urgent conversations. Everyone wears headsets, and one woman works off four computer screens at once while monitoring webcams of the company’s truck yards across Canada. But the room feels focused, not frantic. In the centre of the room, a clue to the atmosphere hangs over the desk of the “co­ordinator of forensic analysis,” Geoff Wickens. A sign reads, Find the Problem, Fix the Problem. Find the Root Cause, Fix the Root Cause. “That’s my job description,” says Wickens. “We don’t point fingers here. It’s about creating systems that work.” At the far end of the room, Zoran Maksimovic can’t wipe the grin off his face. The 32-year-old started with CPX as a driver but worked his way into a desk job, and he was promoted to a supervisory role two days ago. “This company changed my life,” he says in accented English. “I never thought I’d get away from the truck, but here I am.” His pride and excitement are palpable. Jesse Gill also started as a CPX driver. Now the gym-toned young man in a turquoise bandana, who has decorated his office with a large, framed photo of the Sikh Golden Temple, trains new driving recruits. The turnover rate in the trucking industry is stratospheric, says Gill; for every 100 new drivers hired in the industry, an average of 50 or more leave within a year. At CPX 70 per cent stay put. It’s easy to see why. Outside the back door, a catering truck painted with the words The Appreciation Team serves up weekly hot-dog lunches and monthly barbeques. Over in the training room, admin staff are attending their Excellence Through Understanding seminar, which provides an overview of the trucking industry and the life of a truck driver. It’s part of the company’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People approach that also includes optional 7 Habits training for all staff. Truckers can even listen to 7 Habits author Stephen Covey’s driver-specific CDs while on the road. People maestro Gina McBryan reads an email from a new driver. “I had the pleasure of being in the Cloverdale office yesterday… I just can’t believe how driver friendly everybody is… it’s almost as if I’ve known everybody for years. It’s great. I’m really happy with what I’m doing here. Thank you.” “That,” McBryan says with gentle satisfaction, “says it all.” Back to Best Companies to Work for in B.C.