Since transport drivers move 90% of consumer goods and foods in Canada, it’s safe to say that if the trucks stopped rolling, the Canadian economy would grind to a halt.
Frank Prosia, Doug Payne and Henry Piworowicz (pictured above from left) have built careers taking on the challenges of this important industry. They embody a tradition of entrepreneurialism and ambition that has long characterized Sheridan business graduates.
Back when Henry Piworowicz started his company in 1991, he didn’t want financial assistance from his family. “My parents and my in-laws offered but I said no; all we wanted were a few hot meals once in a while. There were some lean years when it seemed like all we had in the house was Kraft Dinner and baby formula,” recalled Piworowicz, Managing Partner of international freight broker, NATS (North America’s Transportation Service). The son of Polish immigrants, Piworowicz runs NATS with childhood friend and Humber College business grad, Dan Zita. The company specializes in oversized loads with access to over 20,000 pieces of equipment worldwide.
Full of drive and hustle, Piworowicz started out selling forklift trucks in Ottawa, developing an enviable sales record over the next decade in the logistics industry, both in Canada and the U.S. before branching out on his own.
It's as much about building relationships as it is about logistics and technology."
Like most industries, technology has brought the most significant changes to the transportation field over the years. But the importance of maintaining relationships remains constant, said Piworowicz, who graduated from Sheridan’s Business program in 1979. “This business is based upon trust, delivering what you said you would.”
Frank Prosia (above), who graduated two years after Piworowicz, agreed. “It’s as much about relationship building as it is about logistics and technology,” Prosia is the Founder of TransPro Freight Systems Ltd. which marks its 25th anniversary in 2015. The company has much to celebrate, receiving Canada’s Shipper’s Choice Award for four consecutive years and making the lists of top fleets to drive and work for in the industry in 2014.
Prosia and Piworowicz are among the many business owners who have seen the decline of one-on-one communication over the years thanks to the Internet. “Customers can get prices from 20 companies online and some will leave for a five dollar difference,” said Piworowicz. All the more reason to forge a personal connection that will help distinguish yourself from the pack, he added.
Doug Payne also knows the importance of developing trust and building alliances. “Although the backbone of this industry is technology, people still do business with people. I can’t make a truck go any faster but I can be proactive and provide timely information to customers.” said Payne, President and COO of Nulogx, the largest freight audit operation in Canada.
Strong partnerships will also be key as the logistics industry adapts to new technology, including 3D printing which Payne believes will have a transformative impact. “This technology has the potential to streamline the flow of raw materials as manufacturers reinvent their processes,” Payne said. The result will reduce the length of the journey products make on their way from manufacturer to consumer. “We will need to work with like-minded individuals who value collaboration and creative thinking to meet these and other challenges and opportunities in the future.”
Payne is well equipped to take on tomorrow’s challenges, having built a reputation for leading companies to great heights through growth. He was at the helm of transportation heavyweights, including Consolidated Fastfrate Inc. and Clarke Logistics before joining Nulogx in 2009. During his four years as President of Clarke Logistics, Payne grew the company from one to 17 offices in Canada, USA and Mexico.
A 1981 Business Administration-Marketing graduate, Payne feels lucky to have spent most of his career in the transportation field. “I have had an insight into the production behind so many goods and services. I don’t think I’ve had two days the same since I started.”
Prosia echoes a similar sentiment. When he went straight from his final exam at Sheridan to a job interview, Prosia didn’t realize he was mapping out his career path for the next three decades. That interview was with transportation company TNT Overland Express. He got the job and never looked back. “I fell in love with the industry.”
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