Cain Express

“’C’ the Difference”

In May, The Canadian Business Journal had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Cain, Chief Executive Officer of Cain Express. Cain Express is an Ontario-based integrated logistics service provider with a focus on offering customized solutions to clients. This commitment to customer service has placed Cain Express at the very top of the boutique logistics service industry.

The History of Cain Express

In 1976, William H. Cain and – Rose Cain had the opportunity to purchase an operating license in the heavily regulated freight transport  industry. He began his small, family-run business in his hometown of Burlington, Ontario. Cain Express sprung from William and Rose Cain’s dream of providing premium transportation and warehousing services of unparalleled quality.

The business grew exponentially. Patrick Cain, after completing his university degree, joined his father in 1982, and worked in the business for ten years before deciding to pursue other interests. He returned in 2012 as CEO, bringing a wealth of experience in 3PL and supply chain consulting. Patrick’s sister, Cyndi Cain, joined in 1989 and has held numerous roles in operations and accounting during her tenure. Cheryl Cain joined the business in 1986 while still in school and worked in all facets of the business eventually taking on the role of President in 2003. Today all three are shareholders in the business along with Michelle Cain, who is Patrick’s spouse.

Several other non-family staff members have grown with Cain Express over the years. Ray Cousens joined in 1976 as the first externally hired employee and currently contributes as Warehouse Manager. Cain Express transport driver Steve Bedell has been with the company over 30 years, starting as a cargo van driver, moving up to straight trucks and then tractor-trailers. Many others have tenured with the company for over two decades. Today, Cain express employs about 75 valued team members.

“We endeavour to keep the very best staff,” explains Patrick Cain, “Our work culture is open and accountable with personal growth and opportunity created through serving our customers and growing the business. We try to create the type of work environment where good people want to stay.”

In 2006, Cheryl, Cyndi and the Cain Express team decided to enhance their business strategy. They focused their efforts more heavily on Just-In-Time and specialty deliveries between auto part manufacturers and automobile assembly plants.

“This was an expansion of services beyond general freight and expedited freight we’d practiced in the past. We expanded our services more heavily into the automotive freight market,” explains Cheryl Cain.

Between 2007 and 2012, Cain Express experienced a 66% revenue growth. This significant achievement ranked them No. 462 in PROFIT Magazine’s listing of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2013. PROFIT Magazine has also recognized Cheryl Cain as one of Canada’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs between 2006 and 20011.

Today, Cain Express continues to offer customers superior service at reasonable cost. The latest improvement to Cain Express’s service offerings is the continued development of their technology platform, including the integration of onboard computing, transport/warehouse management systems and EDI technology. These systems allow customers greater visibility to their product on an on-demand basis, while also streamlining processes and allowing Cain Express to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of their operations.

“Managing the flow of information in the logistics processes can be just as important as managing the flow of the actual product,” says Cain, “Customers want to tender orders, get their shipment statuses and receive their invoices electronically. This not only helps them operate more efficiently, it lets them know where their product is at any given time, which helps them optimize their inventory levels and improve return on assets. We [Cain Express] continue to make significant investments to improve the flow of information between us and our customers.”

A Focus on Customer Service

Cain Express invites customers to “‘C’ the Difference.” But what are the qualities that distinguish Cain from its competition? According to CEO Patrick Cain, the distinction lies in Cain Express’s ability to consult with their clients and be flexible in addressing their specific needs.

“Integrated logistics service providers can range from multi-national, multi-billion dollar organizations to small, family-owned and run businesses. As organizations grow, they can become more rigid on conducting business according to their needs… We’re a boutique firm. This gives us the ability to consult with our customers to fully understand their needs, develop and implement the solution that fits them best, and provide a high level of daily execution to ensure their needs are met.”

Cain Express has three segments of operations: warehousing, transportation, and specialty services. Their warehousing and order fulfillment services are located on the western side of the Greater Toronto Area, serves global customers and ships to markets across North America, and include offerings such as long-term/short-term storage, product consolidation or deconsolidation, cross docking, distribution, inventory management, and pick/pack.

Cain Express’s asset based transportation fleet services destinations in Ontario, Quebec, and the Eastern United States. These offerings are primarily truckload based and include dedicated transport, expedite, and just-in -time delivery. These services are especially relevant in working with automotive partners, in which the cost of downtime is highly significant. Cain Express currently completes about 26,000 shipments per year to automotive plants both in Canada and the U.S. They have supplied several well-known brands, such as Ford, Magna, Kellogg’s and Voortman’s.

The specialty services component includes consulting, reverse logistics, kitting, labelling, and sub-assembly.

“We have the ability to be flexible,” Cain notes, “We help our partners’ complete their supply chain, and keep their own customers happy.”

Driving Future Growth

Cain Express has experienced tremendous growth over the past eight years. However, the company continues to plan for expansion.

As noted in a January 2014 article in PROFIT Magazine, Cain Express is experiencing increasing demand from the U.S. market for transportation services into and out of Canada. However the company is taking a cautious approach, as it can be difficult to properly balance northbound to southbound shipments.

When Cain Express reaches what Patrick calls, “critical mass,” the company will take more interest in the U.S. market. Achieving this objective and offering further services south of the border is part of Cain Express’s future vision. 

For further information on Cain Express’s transportation, warehousing, and distribution services, please visit