The Atripco Group of Companies was never intended to be run by an all-female management team. It just turned out that way, “by hiring the best candidates for the job and promoting from within,” according to Lindsay Service, vice-president – business administration.
Service owns the company as a 50/50 partner with her brother, Drew, who serves as vice-president – operations, focusing on the freight side of the business. Atripco Group consists of four divisions, offering: trucking; courier services; distribution/e-commerce; and its Turnaround Couriers bike messenger service in downtown Toronto.
The latter has been hit hardest by the pandemic, with most offices in downtown Toronto sitting empty. But the distribution/e-commerce business is flourishing, especially with increased demand for home deliveries.
Lindsay’s grandfather Ivan Service, recipient of the 1997 Ontario Trucking Association’s Service to the Industry award, founded the company 52 years ago. His sons Greg and Lloyd ran the business up until 2013 when Lindsay and her brother took the reins. Greg still serves as president, but focuses mostly on the financial side and serves as a trusted advisor.
“Our grandfather Ivan started the business in 1970 with a vision for high-value, rush, same-day deliveries in the city,” Lindsay told Today’s Trucking in an interview.
The Atripco Group hasn’t strayed far from that vision to this day, though it has diversified and expanded, most recently into Calgary through an acquisition three years ago. It will take any sized load from an envelope to a skid, and boasts as its slogan “Nothing is impossible.”
That is, in part, what differentiates it from the much larger package delivery companies.
“What differentiates us is our white glove handling and relationships, as well as our transparency with customers,” Lindsay said. “We still have a live customer service department. If we are on the road and run into issues with a delivery, we are on it that moment. It doesn’t come back to base, get resorted and sit for a couple days.”
She added transparency in pricing is another thing customers appreciate. There are no accessorial charges, the rate quoted is what the customer pays.
Today, Atripco runs a fleet of about 40 trucks – a mix tractors, straight trucks and vans – and 40 trailers. Its distribution division hires independent contractors who provide their own vehicles – anything from cargo vans, to minivans, to sedans. About a quarter of those contractors are women.
“They take their jobs seriously and they’re proud of what they do,” Service said, adding flexible workdays appeal to those who are semi-retired or who have family responsibilities before and after work. “At Amazon, you may pick up at 5 a.m. and be delivering until 10 p.m.”
Atripco doesn’t handle Amazon deliveries, and aims to provide a different experience for drivers. On the heavy truck side, Service admits it’s difficult to find professional drivers who are a good fit. Some longhaul drivers may struggle with the demands of regularly backing into a dock from a busy street at a hospital in downtown Toronto, for example. But those who do work there get the benefit of being home every night.
The Amazon effect has raised customer expectations for timely deliveries and visibility of those deliveries. Atripco has partnered with a software company to offer those same services and has API capabilities.
“We can work with Shopify and all these new e-commerce trends that are happening,” Service said.
“We hire the right people for the job and promote the right people for the job.”
Lindsay Service, Atripco Group
As for the all-female management team, that happened organically. Three of the six female senior managers work in operations, while the other three head the human resources, finance, and “all-things-administrative” departments, Service said. Some came to the company through acquisitions, while others worked their way up. One began at the company as dispatcher, while another started as receptionist. Service notes she and her brother did the same, putting in time in various departments to learn the business.
“We hire the right people for the job and promote the right people for the job,” Service said.
The company is looking to continue growing. It has completed four acquisitions and is eyeing new markets, such as Vancouver. It’s new Calgary operation allows it to branch out to Edmonton and beyond. Meanwhile, Service feels there’s untapped opportunity in its own backyard.
“This is our baby,” she said of the Greater Toronto Area. “There’s still a lot of potential here with what we can do.”