Driving Force

We’re driven to deliver

By Cheryl Long

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Not being recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies was a turning point for DRIVING FORCE. In fact, President and CEO Jeff Polovick says it’s the best thing that could have happened to the company.

Specialists in vehicle rentals, sales and leasing, DRIVING FORCE was nominated for the Deloitte-sponsored program in the late 1990s and confidently went through the application process. But after they discovered that their application wasn’t going forward, the management team decided to learn from the experience and use the program’s judging framework to improve their own business operations. In 2001, they earned their ISO 9001certification, underwent corporate rebranding the following year and opened their new head office in Edmonton in 2006. That year, DRIVING FORCE joined 49 other Canadian companies on Canada’s Best Managed Companies list.

“We used their format and addressed every component of our business that we possibly could, and resubmitted. Our company had grown so much more; we were doing a much better job, and the application process helped us identify those areas where we had improved, as well as those where there was still room for improvement,” Polovick said.

It took three attempts before DRIVING FORCE made the acclaimed list, and today they are among the best as a Platinum Club member marking their eighth year in the program. “The Best Managed program has made us a much better company than we would have been without it,” he added. “It gave us discipline and focus in areas that we needed to improve on. The program has been a fantastic asset for us…”

Fleet grew to 140 vehicles in first year

Polovick founded DRIVING FORCE in 1978 after spending several years working in the truck and car leasing industry in Western Canada. With the help of a silent partner, DRIVING FORCE grew “one vehicle at a time,” ending their first year with close to 140 vehicles in the fleet.  Today, DRIVING FORCE has 22locations across the country and a team of over 500 professionals serving the transportation needs of small companies, large corporate clients, business professionals and private individuals. They’re considered one of the largest independent vehicle rentals, sales and leasing businesses in Canada.

Close to 90 percent of their business revolves around corporate clients looking for a total transportation solution, whether it’s a rental or long-term lease. The majority of the company’s fleet – close to 12,000 vehicles – is comprised of light duty trucks. DRIVING FORCE has also operated a Hino dealer since 1986, which allows them to offer medium duty trucks as well. “They’re a fantastic product.  Hino is by far the very best medium duty diesel truck on the road today,” Polovick said.

The leasing and rental business is a competitive one; it isn’t difficult to find both large and small suppliers in most cities across the country. In an attempt to stand out from the rest, DRIVING FORCE has made customer service their priority, determined to provide a better level of service than their competitors and do whatever it takes to exceed customer expectations.

“That level of service can mean something as simple as ‘can you get me the truck when I need it’. We try to maintain a little lower utilization so we always have vehicles available for our customers, so that when they do need a vehicle, we are able to source it for them and get it delivered to them right away,” Polovick explained. “Most of our customers are generally operating in a just-in-time situation, so we try to make our inventory available to them and provide the fastest possible turnaround.”

Customers can try it out for 30 days

Because they operate such a large fleet, DRIVING FORCE is able to offer a wide selection of used vehicles for sale. Each car, SUV or van is reconditioned and inspected, comes with a three-month or 5,000-km warranty and offers peace of mind with a 30-day trial period. Their rental service offers free in-town pickup and delivery for corporate accounts, and they will deliver out of town at a competitive cost. Leasing customers can have their vehicles delivered to them without having to worry about registration or plates since DRIVING FORCE professionals will have already managed those details.

“Right from the beginning, when I first got into this business over 40 years ago, I recognized that we’re in the used vehicle business first,” Polovick said. “Anyone can buy a  new vehicle, but it’s how well you’re able to dispose of that vehicle at the end of the term that really dictates whether you’re successful in this business or not. There’s always been a high focus on making sure we understand what’s happening in the used vehicle market.” That knowledge and awareness is another key to the company’s success. Knowing when to buy and sell, and keeping an eye on changes in the industry, is essential. “

One of the newest additions to DRIVING FORCE is an offshoot business focusing on an area in which they excel. The company’s new Fleet Management Services allows the company to share their decades of experience through a proprietary program combining technology and consultative solutions. Customers can choose from six areas of fleet operations, with subjects ranging from driver management to tires and maintenance.

Integrity and respect across the board

“Our philosophy of doing business is that we believe in working with integrity and respect, not only with our team members, but also with our customers. Everything we do is focused on providing valuable service to them,” Polovick said. Everyone at DRIVING FORCE has a responsibility for providing that value and being a part of the organization’s growth. “It’s the culture we have throughout our organization, and you can’t satisfy customers if you don’t have satisfied employees.”

As part of their Best Managed process, DRIVING FORCE began having their employees participate in anonymous surveys covering such subjects as general employment, compensation, the company’s benefit program and even their own supervisors. Based on the theory that, “If you don’t want the answer, you shouldn’t ask the question,” the responses paint a true picture of employee satisfaction and the general health of the company. With long-term employees working for DRIVING FORCE for 20, 25 and even 30 years, and a senior management team with a less than one percent turnover rate, it’s clear that the process is working. In fact, last month the company was named one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in the mid-market category by Waterstone Human Capital.

“You can have a vision, you can see where you want to go, but it’s really all the people who are delivering the service on a daily basis who really make the difference,” Polovick said. “I’m really just proud of being part of a team that makes everything happen.”

Predominantly located in Western Canada, future plans include growth through acquisition and expansion into other parts of the country in the next five years.

For more information about DRIVING FORCE, including their locations and services across Canada, visit www.drivingforce.ca.