Established in 2000, Factory Outlet Trailers HQ & Distribution is a Canadian premier retailer of new and pre-owned trailers based 15mins south of Calgary, AB, celebrating 20 years of business this year. Business Elite Canada spoke with Factory Outlet Trailers CEO, David Thompson, about entrepreneurship and his journey leading the company from a single location to the largest single largest trailer dealership in all of Canada! Business Elite Canada spoke with David Thompson, CEO of Factory Outlet Trailers about 20 years of success.
Q: Congratulations on 20 years in business. When FOT was started, what was the vision? Did you imagine you’d grow to become the largest single largest trailer dealership in all of Canada?
A: When FOT was built it was built on the need for a better customer service experience for people acquiring trailer hauling solutions. The foundation has always been and always will be based on a customer-first service model that offers the best quality of products in the market. FOT has set the top standards for Trailer Dealers by being a profitable, top-branded market leader, creating top customer service experience for buyers. FOT has grown from selling a couple trailers a month to having over ten acres, 600 units and 8 locations across Western Canada with thriving parts, service, trailer sales centres. Having a vertically-integrated business from manufacturing through to the customer is a sophisticated business with amazing employees and a business culture that welcomes change and adaptation.
Q: To what do you credit your long success in this industry?
A: FOT’s success stems from our amazing employees and the deep-rooted culture of a customer-first centered mentality that leads to an amazing experience for buyers where they do not get anywhere else. Our work culture and very specific process and procedures ensure a family-friendly and customer results-driven advantage. Also, FOT offers Factory Direct pricing and deep discounts because of our massive economies of scale. With this we maximize inventory availability across four provinces and two territories, which allows us to always have significantly more trailer inventory and configurations than any of our competitors. Our deep relationships directly with Trailer Factories, allows us to expedite special built product in the fastest turn arounds in the industry, which means less down time for customers and higher ROI’s on their capital assets.
Q: What have been the two biggest changes you’ve seen to the industry since you opened? What has stayed the same?
A: One of the biggest changes in the industry has been that the supply hasn’t kept up with the demand—it’s created a supply chain bottle neck. There’s a big divide in competitive makeup for us as the industry has amalgamated. The escalation of demand versus supply hasn’t equalized, so it’s created a deeper competitive advantage for FOT. Buying behaviours have also dramatically changed over the years. The needs of our customers have evolved, now there’s more willingness for door-to-door and online purchasing with less “tire-kicking” of the product. Of course, this was bound to happen since the business has become more automated. That being said, a constant in the industry has always been the demand for quality products, exceptional customer experience, and trusting in the reputation in long-term businesses like FOT.
Q: You have an incredible amount of inventory: How do you keep so close to your customers’ needs?
A: FOT has over 20,000 customers over 20 years and they are everything to FOT! They have made us who we are today! We’re constantly listening to our consumers, asking questions, doing research, and adjusting and trying to improve daily to what they are saying. We know we are not always perfect and don’t get it right 100 per cent of the time but we ALWAYS seek to fix and close the gaps and make it right. We keep our finger on the pulse of what the market needs; and creatively bringing new products and services to the forefront of the industry.
Q: As a proud Canadian and owner of a Canadian company, what does community mean to you?
A: As a proud Canadian owner of a Canadian company, community is one of the essential pillars to FOT. Community means having a positive ripple effect on businesses, families, and friends at a grassroots level. It’s getting involved, participating in an active level at events, supporting local endeavors and staying present locally!
Q: FOT has earned a reputation for great customer service. As CEO, how do you reinforce this philosophy to your team?
A: The customer always comes first! The value of great customer service is reflected in the team’s every day efforts. We encourage transparent communication with our customers and we contact each and every one of them directly for their feedback. We also do monthly/weekly customer service training and break-outs with all staff to ensure optimal experiences for our buyers and we make sure to recognize and honour our employees for their exceptional efforts.
Q: You recently partnered with Fleet Brake. What will this partnership mean for FOT going forward?
A: Fleet Brake is an amazing organization that has a culture and values that matched FOT’s values and top customer service priorities. It was a natural fit in a joint partnership to bring their expertise of service, trailer parts, and sales and leverage both teams for long-term success in the light duty-trailer segment. Fleet Brake has a vast array of inventory products and service solutions that bridges the gap across all of Western Canada for our customers to get the support they need in their local communities.
Q: Lastly: how will you celebrate 20 years?
A: To commemorate 20 years of business, we’re going to celebrate our community and our customers by raising over $20,000 for local charities in our communities to show our thanks, and to help how we can in the current health crisis, FOT chose to build and donated an Emergency Response Covid Trailer to assist in emergency medical care during the Covid-19 pandemic. FOT partnered with customers during the holiday season to fill and donate an entire trailer of Food and necessities to local food banks. Additionally, FOT is currently targeting to raise over $10,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation through the Rope for Hope campaign happening September 2021 that will see FOT managers and staff face their fears and repel over the 40-storey Sheraton Hotel in downtown Calgary. There is no better way for FOT to say thank you to our customers and the Western Canada communities than to give back to the critical Charities that are most important to them!