DORIS COOPER: Britton Transport moving at full speedIn the trucking business, the scenery often changes for those behind the wheel. At Britton Transport, the corporate staff is enjoying a change of scenery and wide open spaces since moving into new headquarters in April.
By: Doris Cooper, Grand Forks Herald
In the trucking business, the scenery often changes for those behind the wheel. At Britton Transport, the corporate staff is enjoying a change of scenery and wide open spaces since moving into new headquarters in April.
President Dave Britton said the company’s move caps off a series of exciting corporate changes in recent years.
To celebrate, Britton Transport is hosting an open house from 3-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, with a ribbon-cutting event at 4 p.m.
“We’re proud of our growth and new building and proud to be located in Grand Forks,” Britton said.
He hopes the community will stop by their offices at 1651 N. 48th St.
“See what’s off the beaten path in Grand Forks,” he said.
Since 1980 Britton has been beating paths, building a transportation company that today is part of one of North America’s largest fleets.
In 2011, Britton Transport was purchased by and became a subsidiary of Winnipeg-based company Bison Transport, which has more than 1,100 trucks and employs nearly 2,000.
Britton said the companies share a culture and values that have made it easy to assimilate.
Britton Transport’s new $3.9 million headquarters, Britton said, is a near replica, albeit about 70 percent of the size, of Bison’s Calgary terminal. The building’s design, down to the grout between floor tiles, was managed by a team from Bison.
“We were packed like sardines in our other location,” he said. “Now we have room to grow.”
The terminal is a home away from home for Britton’s 106 drivers, 85 of whom are based out of Grand Forks. It features a comfortable lounge and large kitchen area, open 24-7, for office staff and drivers. The design, Britton said, is intended to encourage interaction among all employees.
There are shower and laundry facilities for the drivers’ use.
“For us, nothing happens without our drivers. We encourage them to use the space. It’s their home, too,” Britton said.
A cross-dock for up to six trucks provides a location to move freight from one truck to another, which is used extensively for cross-border and domestic logistics.
Britton said since the acquisition by Bison Transport and moving into the new corporate office, Britton Transport’s growth has quickly exceeded predictions, which now operates a fleet of 97 trucks, up from 43 just a little over two years ago.
“It’s gratifying for me to see the company grow and flourish with the same core of people,” he said.
Britton is sensitive to the effect the company’s growth has had on his team. “Bison made it evident they are not here to get rid of people. They’ve been absolutely true to that,” he said. “They bought us for our people. Growth is change, and change can be stressful for people. I’m proud to say we’ve gotten through the growth disruptions, but it has been more of a factor than I anticipated.”
There’s no slow-down in Britton’s sight. Within five years, he expects the Britton fleet, which includes flatbed, van, and refrigerator trucks, to grow to at least 200.
He said about 70 percent of goods nationwide are transported by truck. Flatbed hauls, which include building materials and large manufactured goods, are, he said, an especially good economic indicator.
“It’s the most volatile segment of the trucking industry, but tells us what the economy is doing. I’m bullish on flatbeds for the next couple of years,” he said.
Britton started his business in the basement of his house as a freight broker, finding truck capacity for shippers to move their products. Today, brokerage services comprise about 45 percent of Britton’s business. It’s also another area Britton expects to grow in the next few years.
Located In the heart of the Red River Valley, Britton said, his company and others enjoy the benefits of a stable, vibrant economy. And, he said while the oil boom in western North Dakota has had a positive impact to his company, it’s a minimal part of their business.
“Britton Transport is a shining example of business success and economic growth in the Grand Forks region,” said Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Klaus Thiessen.
“Proactive, growing logistics operations like Britton are an important piece of our infrastructure, vital to recruiting new companies.”
The EDC assisted Britton Transport with its expansion and the company received support through the Grand Forks Growth Fund.
At the heart of Britton Transport’s growth, Britton said, are good people. As the company continues to grow, Britton said he looks for people with ambition and values that match their company culture, even if they don’t have the right experience.
“With our planned growth, there are a lot of opportunities for our people to grow as well.”
Cooper, Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) marketing and communications associate, regularly profiles an EDC business member or client company. The EDC provides access to resources to help primary sector business expand or develop in the Grand Forks region. Learn more at www.grandforks.org