Kleysen has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the late 1920’s. Family values and a commitment to their people sustained the company’s growth through decades of change. Founded by Harry and Marguerite Kleysen, the company started as a Cartage Company hauling feed for the horses of the Toronto Police force. After relocating to Winnipeg, Mr. Kleysen, with his experience in construction, grew his business through the transportation of construction materials.
With over eight decades in transportation, the Kleysen Group of Companies is an integral part of western Canada’s distribution chain. The name Kleysen is well known in the bulk, deck, intermodal, and multi commodity distribution sector, acting as a logistics arm for its customers through its experience in trucking, rail, logistics and commodity-handling. Founded in 1928 under the name Metropolitan Feed and later Kleysen in 1935, Kleysen Group LP is a family-oriented company at its core, with its customers as an extension of that family.
A niche market player, Kleysen focuses on providing exceptional, cost-efficient distribution system solutions for its selected clientele. It was a similar corporate culture that attracted the Mullen Group to purchase Kleysen in 2006 as a strategic augmentation of the group’s trucking and logistic segment.
Mullen Group Ltd. (“Mullen” or the “Mullen Group”) is a corporation that owns a network of independently-operated businesses. Mullen is recognized as the largest provider of specialized transportation and related services to the oil and natural gas industry in western Canada, and is one of the leading suppliers of trucking and logistics services in Canada – two sectors of the economy in which Mullen has strong business relationships and industry leadership. The Mullen group has over 5,500 employees, operates 3,000 trucks, 7,000 trailers, and owns $1.2 billion in assets and operates 27 business units. The strength of Mullen’s $1.4 billion per annum revenue fosters Kleysen’s ability to respond to customers’ unique distribution challenges. Kleysen has been bolstered by Mullen’s deep ties into the oil and gas sector, as well as access to Mullen’s 12,000-strong trailing and equipment assets and the combined experience of the group’s additional 26 subsidiaries. In 2012, Kleysen was awarded the highest honor given to a Mullen Business Unit by being awarded the Grand Prize Safety Award. This award is based on fostering a safe and productive work environment. Kleysen continues to have among the lowest incidents per hours worked within the industry and will continue to support a safe work culture.
What makes Kleysen unique in a broad transportation industry?
Kleysen works to accommodate large-scale projects in western Canada, notably within the oil and gas and construction sectors. Clients who need large-volume and bulk commodities in a time definite schedule seek out Kleysen to coordinate these time sensitive projects. It is not unusual for Kleysen to transport millions of tons of product across North America by a combination of road and rail, and have the product arrive within a very narrow delivery window.
“We tend to look for customers that need help due to the unique challenges they face in their industry,” says President, Jeff Kleysen. “Our people work with them to come up with solutions that work. Much of our success has come from this approach and from the people on our team that work with our customers to create mutually beneficial sustainable and safe solutions.”
What was once a traditional road transportation company has become an integrated road and rail organization focused on providing solutions to customers. Today, Kleysen’s business is organised into four divisions: Bulk Transport, Intermodal, Distribution Services and Industrial Products.
“The key components of the success of these divisions and ability to serve their customers is our people,” say Christiane Devlin, HR Manager. “This is not just a convenient statement but something we’ve lived by for over 80 years in business.”
Materials such as cement, gravel, aggregate, scrap steel, fly ash, grains, and fertilizers are stored, handled and transported in End-dump containers, Side dumps and Pneumatic Tanks through Kleysen’s facilities, all strategically connected to North America’s major railways. Kleysen offers inventory management, seamless railway management and cost effective solutions for clients in Canada and the U.S.
With a shrinking driver force and a growing need to operate in a sustainable and environmentally responsible business mode, the future of Intermodal looks promising. Seen as a growth opportunity, Intermodal is a transport solution combining local and highway trucking with rail for the long distance movement of goods. It is an innovative freight service for dry and heated full container loads.
The Intermodal Express division of Kleysen’s business concentrates on the delivery and secure movement of goods both domestically and into the U.S. Kleysen employs a combination of dry and heated containers as well as 20 or 40-foot containers that can be satellite tracked from point of pick up to final delivery.
The Distribution Services arm has strong ties to western Canada’s energy sector. With facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon, Kleysen is able to transport product from rail to its yards for storage and then on to deck for delivery to the customers. The Kleysen in-house I.T. platform tracks goods from origin to transload to storage to final destination by tracking individual item numbers as provided by the customer. This ‘Goods Management Process’ is unique to that industry.
The Distribution Services division has shown tremendous growth, and has engaged in major projects in the region, notably working on The Bow Building in Calgary. One of the tallest buildings in western Canada, all of the structural steel, the staging, storage and the ultimate end delivery was all controlled through the Kleysen goods management process. True to their unique offerings, Kleysen looks to provide multiple solutions for the varying needs of their customers, big and small.
An innovative division for Kleysen is its industrial products arm. A seemingly recession-proof business, Kleysen has been providing road de-icer to customers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northern U.S., helping municipalities keep roads safe for over four decades. Kleysen products meet all government specifications for medium and coarse salt.
Kleysen now operates the plant in Saskatchewan that produces the salt for distribution across western Canada and into the Northern States, and uses its existing distribution centers and strategically located storage facilities to ensure a steady and reliable supply of product to the customer.
Stable, Strong and Poised for the Future
The Kleysen Group is a part of the Canadian transportation fabric. Its strategic diversification and prioritization of niche markets has positioned the company on a strong foothold in its sector. The Kleysen team has always adapted to changes in its industry, and of its customers’ industries to procure the most efficient transport solutions possible.
“Throughout all of the entrepreneurial endeavors, growth, and changes – one of the constants has been the approach to Kleysen’s employees,” says Devlin. “From a family business to being a part of a much larger organization, the Kleysen approach and values of passion, loyalty and trust has been instilled and shared with our employees. Kleysen’s success and ability to continuously identify and many times exceed their customers’ expectations have been as a direct result of the commitment and talent of every employee.”
The talent starts from hiring, training, developing, and promoting from within the very best. Each part of the team is important: laborers, tradespeople, customer service, dispatch, drivers, owner/operators, managers and the leadership team. Kleysen strives to ensure fair wages and looks to a long term relationship with our employees by providing solid benefit programs, retirement benefits, profit share programs, and work/personal life balance. Kleysen strives to provide them with the tools and independence to do their very best each day, serving their customers, with the tools and environment to work safely.
With change being one of the only constants in a very competitive industry the Kleysen Group is well positioned for the future. With strong ties to the rail, a dynamic workforce, a creative approach to solving customer’s problems and a challenging, rewarding and safe work environment, Kleysen looks forward to a bright future.