New truck & trailer service centre sets up at the GTHSterling Truck & Trailer Sales Ltd. looks forward to growth
When Sterling Hornoi checks in at his new facility at the Global Transportation Hub, he looks past the trucks and trailers on his lot and focuses on the horizon, where vehicles curve through an interchange that will be the future Regina Bypass.
“The completion of that bypass will be a game changer for my business,” says Hornoi, the founder and president of Sterling Truck & Trailers Sales Ltd.
The local entrepreneur purchased 12 acres of land at the GTH in April 2015 with the vision of establishing two offerings to serve the trucking industry. The first business, a container yard, operated by Slinkemo Enterprises, provides container transportation, handling, storage and repair services and has been in operation for two years now.
In May, Hornoi officially opened the doors to his second business at the GTH – a satellite dealership, for a company known across the prairies for providing quality truck and trailer service and repair: Sterling Truck & Trailer Sales Ltd.
“Even though it’s still one year away, seeing vehicles moving on that bypass makes this real. Getting that freeway done will make the GTH that much more attractive to other warehouse and trucking companies and, in turn, that will be good for my bottom line,” says the seasoned businessman.
“We’re offering truck & trailer repair, parts, new and used sales, rentals & leasing, and just this summer we completed our fully automated truck & trailers wash at our facility here. These are all services that trucking companies expect at a transportation hub like the GTH.”
Hornoi says the idea of a transportation community remains a brilliant concept and one he feels will continue to gain traction. “Since opening, we’ve got more business from the local tenants at the GTH, Loblaw, Slinkemo Enterprises, Emterra Recycling, Fastfrate and CP Rail just to name a few. So from my perspective, so far, so good; but we want to continue to get busier for sure.”
Sterling Truck & Trailer Sales and Hornoi Leasing have been staples in the Saskatchewan trucking community for over 46 years. Hornoi got his start in the industry in 1958 driving truck. When he opened up his own business in 1972, it was a small shop, repairing and selling truck and trailers. A year later, Hornoi started Hornoi Leasing and in 1978 expanded his business to include a Saskatoon office. In 1992 they became the Saskatchewan dealer for Volvo trucks. The family-run company has a payroll of over 125 full-time employees at its four Regina locations along with its Saskatoon and Lloydminster, AB dealerships.
With the opening of the new business at the GTH, Hornoi added five full- time staff here.
“The GTH has created new opportunities for a lot of Saskatchewan companies and will only continue to flourish. It’s a great location. That’s why I wanted to get ahead of the game and be a part of the GTH’s growth in the beginning.”
“Now that we are here – we want some new neighbors,” he chuckles.
Capturing value for allUniversity of Regina prof sees containerization as opportunity for farmers, GTH
Whether he looks at Saskatchewan agriculture as an academic, farmer or entrepreneur, Paul Sinclair comes to the same conclusion: there is greater value to be gained and the Global Transportation Hub may hold the key.
Sinclair, an associate professor at the Hill School of Business at the University of Regina, is an advocate for establishing containerization facilities near rail lines to give farmers a greater opportunity to increase the value of raw commodities.
“For farm entrepreneurs eyeing global markets, it’s totally ineffective to borrow money to process and containerize on the farm,” says Sinclair. “If we are sincere when we say we want to do value-added agriculture products, we need a place where a hundred producers can process at a central location near a rail line. No one has done that. The GTH has the most important pieces already in place – the management structure, the operating company, and the co-located transportation companies– all the pieces of the puzzle are there.”
Sinclair’s views were not shaped in the classroom. They are based on his experiences growing up on the family farm near Fort Qu’Appelle and in operating a camelina oil and meal company. He became increasingly convinced that intermodal traffic may hold the key to bringing together the interests of farmers, industry and government.
“It makes no sense for the farmer-entrepreneur to try to process materials on the farm,” says Sinclair. “Transportation to facilities around the province is expensive and inefficient. It needs to happen in a central facility close to the rail line.”
In 2014, Sinclair and a colleague began a research project related to the GTH. He recognized that the facility had the land, infrastructure and inspiration that could change the way commodities are handled before export. He also recognized that the GTH holds unique potential for public-private collaboration, all driven by a shared interest in capturing greater value for Saskatchewan crops.
“It’s an issue that affects all of Saskatchewan,” says Sinclair. “Business can’t do it alone. Government can’t do it alone. It’s sitting right there. This is how we lay the track for the next train and the next train and the train after that. It has to start right here.”
In an editorial written for The Western Producer, Sinclair identified the numerous amenities that make the GTH a possible solution to the century-old challenge of increasing value-added processing in Saskatchewan:
“For agricultural producers, the Global Transportation Hub opportunity was simple and compelling. Canadian Pacific Railway operates a 300-acre intermodal facility next to the hub that can move 250,000 containers every year. If we add to that a freight village providing comprehensive logistics, transportation, warehousing, and distribution services and a cluster of food processors, we would have something remarkable: opportunity to pursue elusive value-added opportunities in the global food market.”
Sinclair will be sharing his insights at a free lecture in Room 314 in the Education Building at the University of Regina on October 10. Interested parties are encouraged to attend. His presentation will begin at 4:00 p.m. and last about one hour.
Big (and little) wheels turningRegina cyclists commend commercial drivers for road safety at the GTH
Mark Gibbons is a well-known cycling enthusiast who wants his community to know how much he appreciates the professionalism and safety shown by the local trucking community.
Following on the heels of National Trucking Week in September, the general manager of two recreational bicycling clubs spoke out about the consideration commercial drivers exhibit when sharing the road with cyclists.
“Our clubs and members all believe it is far safer to cycle in and around the GTH and along Pinkie Road, where there is heavy truck traffic, than any other roadway in and around Regina,” states Gibbons, who is active with the Regina Cycling Club and Regina Multisport Club. “The drivers are clearly taught about the turbulent airflow produced by large freight haulers and the ‘sucking’ dangers that exist when they share the road. Most times, we see drivers that put safety before their delivery and will pull over to give us space.”
Gibbons says many drivers in private vehicles tend to take dangerous risks and either pass or follow cyclists too closely. It’s why many local cycling groups look forward to strapping on their cycling shoes and helmets and heading out to the GTH roadways to get their weekly bicycling fix. It’s an environment they feel offers a safe place to enjoy their pastime.
In the absence of a standardized curriculum for truck drivers, the Regina team lead for FastFrate says most trucking companies do more than teach their drivers the rules of the road; they teach them to be responsible operators in every environment.
“We typically hire veteran drivers because we are confident they understand how to share the road with vulnerable users like pedestrians and cyclists,” explains Darwin Bach, the manager of FastFrate’s trucking service at the GTH. He says his company, like many other freight carriers, is always reminding drivers to put safety before all else and maintain stringent consequences for negligent or dangerous driving behaviors.
“A driver only has to take a risk once, but we all know that could be too late because big trucks don’t stop on a dime,” says Bach. “Most drivers use common sense and we know our team has not experienced a serious incident in years because we’re all committed to safety on the road.”
“I’ll be honest – it feels good to hear people notice.”
After 15 years of cycling, Gibbons has seen a fair share of drivers – from very bad to very good.
“If I see a car and a semi coming up behind me, I’m usually watching the actions of the private vehicle because we know the truck drivers have our back.”
He wants truck drivers to know they are definitely in his good books – not just because everything we eat and buy in the stores is delivered by those commercial trucks; but because of the outstanding professionalism and focus on safety those drivers demonstrate on a consistent basis.
“It’s kind of ironic to me that the biggest people on the road are looking out for the smallest and most vulnerable,” adds Gibbons. “We certainly appreciate their compassion and conscientious driving and we don’t take them for granted.”
Did you know?
- In Canada, the trucking industry employees more than 400,000 men and women – half work as drivers
- 80% of all US exports to Canada are transported via truck
- 90% of all consumer good in Canada are delivered by truck
Moving to the next levelBaker wants to see agricultural economy grow
Like any experienced farmer, Terry Baker has spent his lifetime thinking about the next crop: What can we do better? What can we change? Where is the opportunity?
It’s a skill that helped him lead one of Saskatchewan’s most historic and successful companies, as Chair of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool/Viterra from 2004-2009. It also makes him an important driver of change at the GTH.
Baker joined the GTH board in 2013 and has long recognized that a transportation and logistics park could have a role in reshaping the way Saskatchewan thinks about manufacturing, distribution and exports – especially in the areas of agriculture and value-added processing.
The concept of the GTH attracted me,” says Baker. “I still see the potential. The analysis shows it makes the most sense to pursue value-added agriculture across the food chain. We aren’t manufacturing cars. It’s not what we do in Saskatchewan. But we can be great as an industrial and logistics park for value-added agriculture. That might involve manufacturing and processing of agricultural inputs, crushing and food processing or distribution of semi-manufactured food products. That’s pretty labour-intensive work and jobs are important.”
Like any business leader, Baker believes that change is a path to opportunity. So while he recognizes the value of the GTH is fulfilling its mandate to transportation and logistics, he also knows that exploring opportunities in agriculture could expand the opportunities for development at the GTH.
“The continued consolidation of the industry from an agri-food perspective has been substantial,” says Baker. “And it’s still happening. Crop input companies are consolidating. The sheer scale of agriculture is changing. We have the ability to be a part of that change and ensure we do more with crops in Saskatchewan.”
Baker’s thinking reflects a long-held sentiment that Saskatchewan producers are not capturing the full value of crops grown in the province. Agricultural economists are becoming more vocal in their assessment that the value of prairie crops has plateaued or even declined – a scenario that can only be corrected by turning raw commodities into more valuable food ingredients.
“We’re still in the business of growing stuff, putting it in boxcars and shipping it somewhere else,” says Baker. “Until we get to the value add, our actual productivity in Canadian agriculture will stagnate. Someone else will be making the big bucks. Someone else is taking those raw materials and turning them into food. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve always done it this way or a lack of willingness to take a risk. But we need to change.”
The continuing evolution of the GTH is an important step on the road to change. With access to the nearby crops and on-site road and rail transportation, the GTH makes it possible for a processor to source materials and then add value and ship efficiently to global markets.
Baker sees the pending completion of the $1.8 billion Regina Bypass as another building block that will add value for the GTH, tenants and food processors.
“The opening of the bypass will make a big difference,” says Baker. “You will have the ability to have the free flow of product in and out. If we can grow the relationship with the railroad and move toward containerization, there is new potential."
“Frankly, we operate in a place that has a business-friendly climate and a value-added mentality. The skeleton is here. We have the wide roads, pipes in the ground, the utilities, the rail road, the labour pool and a big chunk of developable land. It’s all here.”
Now Baker’s focus is on the next step: helping shape the strategy that will turn the untapped potential of Saskatchewan – and the GTH – into economic growth.