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Groupe Robert Inc. is part of the top 10 of Canadian carriers. With its modern fleet with more than 4,500 pieces of equipment, the company also provides warehousing, distribution and logistics services. Groupe Robert is a private family owned company. It employs more than 2,600 employees and its sales are approximately $300 million. While its headquarters are Rougemont, Quebec, the company also has two operational centers (Montreal and Toronto) in addition to 16 terminals throughout Quebec. In recent years, Robert expanded its activities into specialized transportation.
Claude Robert, president and CEO says, “We are a highly diversified carrier that is in a position to offer the customers every single type of service.”
Founded in 1946 by Rosario Robert in Rougemont, the company has experienced several growth phases. Having in mind the transportation and distribution of his own produce, Rosario quickly seized the opportunity to offer his services to fellows in the village. In 1973, with the death of Rosario, his son, Claude, took over as head of the company. Innovative, fearless and charismatic, he seized all the opportunities to diversify the activities of the company.
“Over the years, naturally, the company underwent expansion,” he says. “We also became a Toronto truckload and LTL (less than truckload) freight carrier and offered temperature control services.”
Today, Robert “serves many industries, including aeronautics, automotive, construction, food, mining, and (pharmaceuticals) and cosmetics,” he says.
“We really are a solution provider for the customers,” he states. “It is what we have been doing for the last 60 years.
“The family members are deeply involved, which makes all the difference in the world,” Claude says. “We work seven days a week, and we are dedicated 24 hours per day. The third generation is very much involved. They have the same passion that I do. That's what we believe in, and that's the future of our company.”
The involvement of the family is felt at all levels of the company. Passion for success, integrity, honesty, respect, desire to render service, innovation, boldness and courage, as well as the security, social and environmental commitments are values that drive each member.
“Groupe Robert focuses on doing the right thing for its clients,” Claude says. “Too many people (have) objectives of making money.
“The object is to provide the best services to the customer in a safe way and without risk for your employee,” he continues. “If you do all this, you don't have to worry. You will be profitable.
“I love trucking,” he says, noting that the company strives to maintain a friendly environment that promotes common sense.
While the public often puts all truck drivers in the same basket, Robert offers superior training to new drivers and ensures a continuous training for these road enthusiasts. Groupe Robert has strived to educate its workers. “We need to develop their common sense and their abilities,” Claude says. At Robert, frequent road tests and educational meetings are scheduled to keep the drivers up to date.
In recent years, Groupe Robert has seen many changes within its industry. For example, the Canadian pulp and paper industry was one of the major industries served by Robert. “The paper industry has reduced its capacity around the world by 15 percent,” Claude states. “With computers and electronics, you don't need to print data or emails anymore. You store them in a database.”
Behavior and economic changes are not the only threats for the trucking industry. Major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Costco have their own logistics departments. “They do control a lot of their transportation and they operate dedicated fleets,” Claude says. “All these things are much different that it used to be 15 years ago.”
Groupe Robert has not let green initiatives pass it by, either. “Although our trucks travel nearly 100 million kilometers a year, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 11,000 tons,” the company says. •mt