Musket Transport Ltd.

A global leader in transportation services

Musket Transport Ltd. was incorporated in 1993 and quickly became widely-respected for its logistical proficiency with its many clients throughout North America. Today, the company serves clients in almost every sector, ranging from local companies, global brands such as Home Depot, Nestle, Atlantic Packaging and Coca-Cola, and all the way to shipping giants Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, MSC and Panalpina.

Musket operations focus on North America and the company is among the largest intermodal trucking companies servicing the Great Lakes states, the Midwest, and the Northeastern United States, including daily shipments to and from the ports of Montreal, New York/New Jersey, and Philadelphia. In Canada, Musket is licensed coast to coast as well as in 48 states in the United States.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Andy Balij, CEO and President, and Rod Alafriz, Vice President, about how the company grew with such a great success.

“There is no big secret — we simply invested everything we had in the company,” starts Balij. “At the start, instead of taking profits, we re-invested as much as we could back into the company, acquiring chassis and trucks. The big thing was, instead of leasing, we acquired the land. Obviously, this was unprofitable at the beginning, but it paid off in the long run.”

The company has more than 250 TL/LTL highway trucks and over 300 53-foot, dry van trailers for moving products, and over 500 chassis for moving shipping containers. The company has three terminals based in Toronto, which offer indoor and outdoor storage for more than 6,000 containers. All three terminals are CTPAT-certified, fully gated, and guarded with video surveillance and 24/7 on-site security. Two of the terminals are also Canada Customs bonded. So, whether it’s on the road or in one of the Musket terminals, clients’ shipments are certainly in good hands.

To provide impeccable client service, Musket also launched CHET (Commercial Heavy Equipment Training) driver training, and this in-house CHET Driving Academy is also recognized by the Province of Ontario. It’s a registered Private Career College (PCC) under the Ministry of Training, and a full member of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO). CHET boasts a comprehensive curriculum including tractor-trailer theory taught in the classroom and hands-on, behind-the-wheel training. Subjects encompass all that is necessary to become a success full commercial driver, including laws and regulations, weights and limitations, hours of service, hazardous materials, trip planning, smart driver for highway trucking, air brake “Z” endorsement, vehicle inspection, and load securement.

“We train AZ and DZ commercial drivers for intermodal and OTR (over-the-road) routes for our own activities and standards on what they need to do in our company. So, when the driver leaves the school we are able to guarantee the driver’s position with Musket. This is generally not the case with other schools,” says Balij.

According to Balij, besides having quality individuals and hardware, it’s impossible to be successful in logistics industry without technology. “We invested in technology from day one. We went from operating on cardboard and paper to digital systems very quickly and we continuously improve our digital structure and telecommunications. Today, we also develop custom structures for our customers to meet their needs. The technology investment has been the core of maintaining our competitive edge. It’s all about technology.”

“We continuously invest in our software, and increasing precision of our systems,” adds Alafriz. “Our software is developed in-house, so we can tailor communications to client’s needs. Not using mainstream software and our software flexibility provides us with a great competitive edge.”

Besides technology, the company’s modus operandi is all about satisfying its clients on an ongoing basis and maintaining good relationships with the core clients while working on acquisition of new accounts. “Servicing the ports represents bulk of our business, and our challenge here is balance,” says Alafriz. “We need to maintain good relationships with our core shipping clients and maintain these relationships long-term. At the same time, our business needs to continue to evolve. We are focusing on maintaining our relationships with our distinct clients and major accounts, and going forward we will continue to acquire new equipment – trucks, chassis, cranes, etc. – and continue to grow our account base. To do that, we need solid sales force and strong operations group, because you can’t bring on more clients if you don’t have solid operational support.”

“Our people are our strength. It’s all about the customers,” adds Alafriz. “You can’t have a successful business without having good relationships with your customers. We have been in business for 25 years, and we built solid, lasting relationships with our customers by delivering on the promises. It’s the key to remaining competitive. We are not trying to be the cheapest in the market, but our price reflects our service.”

While Balij does not expect to turn the company into a global giant, he sees the opportunities being based on company’s strong fundamentals. Because the company owns all the equipment, land and technology, there are no true liabilities. So, if a suitable growth opportunity arises – be it further investment or acquisition – Musket is ready to hit the target.