From shipping to storage to logistics, they’ve got it covered
By Cheryl Long
Whether they’re picking up at a seaside port or dropping off at a busy Toronto terminal, Musket Transport Ltd. has proven to be the company that many businesses turn to when they want their products shipped quickly and safely.
Company president Andy Balij founded Musket Transport Ltd. in 1993 and later merged the company with Melburn Truck Lines Corp., making the new company one of the largest intermodal carriers in Ontario. Melburn’s decades of experience in the container carrier sector combined with Musket’s proficiency in transport created a powerhouse in the shipping and trailer industry.
The Mississauga company ships products for Ontario-based businesses across North America using a fleet of about 250 highway trucks, 400 dry van trailers and shipping containers transported on close to 600 chassis. They operate three Toronto-based terminals that provide indoor and outdoor storage for more than 6,000 containers; two of which are bonded by Canada Customs. Easy-to-use tracking technology, specialized logistics equipment, HazMat certified drivers and the capability to handle oversized loads all help the company maintain its position as an industry leader in transportation solutions and services.
Reputation as Ontario’s premier carrier
Today, Musket is known as Ontario’s premier carrier for domestic intermodal and international ocean containers, providing delivery service to and from Canadian and U.S. ports and railways. They also provide over-the-road trailer services throughout Canada and the central and northeast United States, and operate a highly-skilled logistics department that coordinates the movements of cargo to and from North American ports and railways.
Many of their transports run along the Eastern Seaboard where they carry temperature-controlled containers full of produce from as nearby as California and Florida, or from more distant countries like South Africa. Dry containers are loaded with a vast range of consumer goods, both for import and export, from an expansive list of industry sectors. The constant stream of activity as product travels throughout the U.S. and Canada is facilitated by the company’s 350 employees who fulfill a number of roles, from drivers and supporting staff to the team manning Musket’s brokerage division. And there are plenty of driver jobs to go around as proven by the shortage that poses as a challenge within the industry.
“There’s been a driver shortage for the last three to four years,” Balij said. “The job is no longer attractive. It used to be a well-paid job and everybody jumped into it and when so many jump into it, it’s not well paid anymore.”
Driver rates on the rise
Driver rates are starting to rise again, he said, but it will take time for the pendulum to swing in a more positive direction. Musket tries to make the job as family-friendly as possible by ensuring drivers are only away from home for one night at a time three nights out of each week. Though the job doesn’t offer rates as high as an industry like construction, Balij said his company can offer better working conditions such as a heated or air-conditioned truck. He tries to both attract and retain his drivers by making them feel part of the business, handing out the occasional gift certificate or treating them to a dinner for two. Balij also has a person on staff dedicated to the drivers; someone they can come to with any concerns without being judged or having their performance reviewed. A “Cadillac” benefits package rounds out the incentives for drivers who sign on with Musket.
Drivers are a crucial component of Musket’s success and that’s one reason why the company operates Commercial Heavy Equipment Training Ltd. (CHET), their own in-house driving school sanctioned by the Ministry of Training and the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario. The school produces industry-recognized AZ and DZ commercial drivers, and then Musket takes their pick of the best. Part of the curriculum emphasizes client interaction and image maintenance; Musket wants their graduating drivers to understand the impact they can personally have on their clients’ brands as they go about their day-to-day jobs.
Innovative ideas benefit customers
A focus on keeping employees happy also extends to Musket’s wide client base, which is close to 500 on the container side of the business, Balij said. They’re always striving to be innovative, providing ideas and solutions that are profitable for both themselves and their customers. It also means truly knowing who their customers are, which is essential when a company is dealing with the unique practices and cultures of companies from countries worldwide.
“We need to know what to expect from who,” Balij explained. “We learn from the process of doing the business with people; learning who does what and what to expect.”
Balij describes Musket Transport as “passionate, dedicated, always customer-oriented” and the philosophy has paid off. They have been the exclusive carrier for some of their clients for 20 years, he said. “That shows the dedication of our team to make people’s lives more comfortable and trouble-free.”
To learn more about Musket Transport, visit www.musket.ca.