In one year, Compass Carriers in Timmins has grown from one truck to 10, currently operating seven days a week around the clock.
The Aboriginal business, which is part of the Mattagami Group LP, got its start following a discussion at a restaurant.
“The business kind of evolved out of a discussion about three years ago, between myself and Chris McKay from Mattagami First Nation (MFN),” said CEO Peter Bazinet. “At that time, we identified an opportunity with Lake Shore Gold, for an ore haulage contract. We agreed we would form a limited partnership, with MFN and BazCorp, and both entities are Aboriginal.”
Negotiations began with Lake Shore Gold, which has its Timmins West Complex, 18 kilometres west of the city.
Its milling facility is east of Timmins and Compass currently hauls the mine’s ore to that site.
“It was a very comprehensive process and took us well over a year. We are a brand-new, fresh Aboriginal business. But the company was instrumental in helping us secure equipment and secure a longterm contract with them,” he said.
With 35 years experience in the trucking and transportation industry, Bazinet said it was both an opportunity and a personal challenge to become involved.
He has ties to the Timmins community, but was living in southern Ontario doing consulting work.
“It was the interest in working with the Mattagami First Nation, who were very supportive throughout this entire process, and getting involved with them and understanding where they wanted to go and where they wanted to get to,” said Bazinet.
“At the end of the day, they were looking at me to help bring the community into main stream business through this partnership.
“We are doing that and we have done a lot of things in a year.”
The company tries to hire Aboriginals, and at any time, it can have two to eight drivers who are Aboriginal.
The goal is to train those from the Mattagami First Nation to also work in administration and operations.
“The intent is to train and employ Aboriginals,” he said. “But there are no special provisions given to us. We are a bona fide company that pays taxes, just like everyone else. Sometimes that is a misconception.”
That misconception is something the company must deal with from time to time and it can have an impact. If a driver is considering working for Compass, misinformation from someone who is not in the know can convince the driver that working for the company is not a good idea.
“Sometimes there is a perception about us that is completely wrong, and that could affect us in our ability to recruit that individual,” Bazinet said.
In addition to Lake Shore, Compass has secured other contractual business, which puts it in a good long-term position.
“We have done extremely well in such a short period of time and we are in a position of decent quality of revenue and a subsequent margin,” he said.
In the trucking business, Bazinet has learned what separates a company from the others, which is doing what you say you will do, providing a respectful work environment for all the employees and having an excellent compensation package, if not the best in town.
“With our benefit package, we spend the extra money there and it is part of our retention package. We really don’t like to see that door swinging. Retention is an issue for the whole industry and people tend to come and go more in trucking. So we try to offer and create that environment that is better than the next guy. We have good equipment, top pay and benefits, and steady full-time work for the next several years.”
Despite being relatively young and growing fast, Bazinet sees a lot of upside to Compass. “It’s another reason why I came here.
I love starting a new company. I really enjoy it and I see a good future.”