Celebrating 37 years of logistics excellence
By: Fadeke Adegbuyi
Founded in 1977, Braden Burry Expediting Ltd. (BBE) is a leading supplier of remote project logistics expertise across North America and around the globe. In 2007, BBE was bought by NorTerra Inc. and is presently a part of the NorTerra Group of Companies as a 100% Inuit owned organization.
In the last 10 years, things have changed dramatically for the company in terms of their business model. While their previous supply chain was limited to transfers between Edmonton, Yellowknife, and North of Yellowknife, the company has seen dramatic growth. Today, BBE provides expediting, supply chain logistics, project staffing, and cargo handling services domestically and around the world. In Canada, they act as an agent for cargo acceptance and warehousing for 15 airlines.
“Over the last 10 years there’s been a real differentiation between how people and companies are dealing with their supply chain and their logistics,” says Heather Stewart, the President of BBE since 2011. Prior to her latest role with the firm, she worked for the company in operations for 10 years. She adds, “We’ve expanded into integrating more services into our supply chain – we’ve gotten into packaging, crating, and international freight forwarding – which is very exciting to us.”
The firm attributes the continued expansion of their company to their devoted team. “I work with a team of people who are equally as interested in the business as I am, which makes building the business exciting and very rewarding,” says Stewart.
In November 2013, BBE acquired ISHOP4U, a company specializing in providing Northern residents with goods that are not readily available in their communities. “It’s a good fit for us…historically we have provided business to business service but this takes us to a different level where we’re providing service for the end users,” says Stewart. The firm is always looking to expand and grow through acquisition.
In a competitive market, BBE sets itself apart in a variety of ways. “North of 60 we have a very different set of competitors and clients than we do south of 60,” says Stewart. “We’re the only northern logistics company that is well rounded across the main part of Canada and we have a lot of strong branches and partners through the north,” she adds. The company is specialized to operate in the North where the focus is very different than in the South. “In the north they’re focused on mining, expediting and northern type of logistics,” Stewart says.
Stewart notes that there are key differences in the markets where BBE operates. “International markets are very price competitive. On the domestic side, more often than not, especially when looking north, its time sensitivity and delivering reliably [that are most important].”
Within Canada, the variation between business in the North and somewhere like BC is stark. “When you look at doing business in the north, which is where our roots are, it’s quite different. In the NWT and Nunavut there are few roads to the communities, a lot of it is fly in fly out, ice roads or sea lift,” Stewart adds.
BBE is consistently trying to stay competitive with other logistic companies. “For us to stay competitive, it’s being able to price accordingly and make sure the services are reliable,” Stewart says. “The other part of it is technology…integrating it into your supply chain is critical,” she adds. BBE utilizes a proprietary freight forwarding software called FLMS and is currently the only northern company in their industry with this technology and expertise.
Over the past few years, BBE has taken on a myriad of exciting projects. Besides various sea lift projects into the high arctic and moving parts in and out of Afghanistan, in 2009 and 2010 the firm contracted and ran a port in Vancouver with their sister company Northern Transportation Company (NTCL). “NTCL is a tug and barge operator. They depart out of Hay River in the Northwest Territories and they sail up the Mackenzie River and deliver cargo to communities all up and down the river and then out into the western arctic,” Stewart says. “They’ve been in business pushing 80 years,” she adds.
Additionally, BBE works with Husky Energy and ConocoPhillips in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, an active region for oil and gas activity. “We’ve been supporting them with their airlift and their on-site logistics and mobilizing their cargo for barge programs up the river and into their work sites,” Stewart says.
BBE was recently recognized with an “NWT Business Safety of the Year Award” in Yellowknife through the Chamber of Commerce. “That was a big one for us because we are very safety focused in everything that we do and it’s very nice to be recognized for the efforts that we put into safety,” Stewart says. In March 2013, they became a Canadian International Freight Forwarding Association (CIFFA) member. “For a little company from the north like us it was a real honor to be a part of the CIFFA Organization,” she says.
After 37 years in business, BBE has more plans for expansion and growth on the horizon. One such plan is their expansion of the ISHOP4U model. “Right now it operates strictly in the Eastern Arctic. We’re going to take the concept and move it through the western and central Arctic to develop a customer base across the north,” Stewart says. “We are continuing to build and expand our sealift marshalling and crating services in Edmonton and Ottawa as well.”
For more information on BBE, visit http://www.bbex.com/