Premier Bulk Systems Ltd, a leader in the field of bulk liquid transportation, has a motto: “One delivery at a time.” For the company’s many satisfied clients, Premier Bulk ensures smooth, seamless and safe delivery of surfactants, oil and petrochemical and food industry products each and every time.
Premier Bulk Systems Ltd was founded in November of 2001 by President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Berry and has grown considerably over the past fourteen years. Today, with twenty-six office staff and mechanics and fifty-five full-time drivers, Premier Bulk Systems Ltd serves all of Canada and the United States.
“We are really considered a U.S. carrier,” says Berry. “The majority of our business is cross-border, to and from the United States. So that’s where we specialize, and that’s where we see our growth.”
His previous experience includes working as a mechanic, driver and fleet manager. Premier Bulk Systems Ltd was created with encouragement from wife Christine, who serves as the company’s vice president and remains active in the day-to-day operations of the business. “I’ve worked for some really good people in the past,” comments Berry. “My wife actually talked me into it. She said: ‘You work hard every day for somebody else; work hard every day for yourself.’”
From just three trucks at the beginning, Premier Bulk Systems Ltd has expanded to a diversified fleet of fifty-five trucks and one hundred tank trailers. The company has a target of between ten and fifteen percent growth per year and achieved an astonishing twenty-three percent growth last year alone.
Despite the significant expansion, the family-owned enterprise maintains its commitment to the hard work and dedication that puts it ahead of the competition. Family is a huge part of Premier. In addition to his wife, Berry’s daughter works in billing and customer service, and his son-in-law is a mechanic in the garage.
Premier has created one of the finest transportation teams available. It is strictly a liquid chemical carrier and transports a range of liquid bulk commodities ranging from chemicals to food grade products. The company’s highly trained staff recognizes the importance of safe transportation and the need for customers to send and receive products on time, every time.
The company has many satisfied clients, including one long-term account acquired soon after the business started in 2001. With the help of Director of Business Development Sal Naqi, the company continues to pursue new clients while maintaining the respect of numerous perennial customers.
“At Premier, our reputation precedes us,” comments Berry. “We have a very good reputation for providing good, safe, reliable service – and a lot of times, our customers are our best sales agents.”
In an industry in which safety is paramount, Premier Bulk Systems Ltd has its own safety and compliance department spearheaded by two highly qualified individuals. The first looks after insurance and risk management, due diligence, licensing and all fleet service areas. The second specializes in driver management and handles such areas as hands-on driver training and orientation. Also, the company maintains a ‘do not haul’ list as a further assurance of safe transportation.
“Every chemical that we haul is either approved or disapproved by myself or my operations guys or my safety department, depending on the knowledge of the product,” says Berry. “And once it gets over certain threshold of being dangerous, we don’t haul it.”
While about fifty-five percent of the products the company hauls are dangerous goods, there are some that require special training that is product specific. To further mitigate risk, Premier Bulk Systems Ltd conducts route risk analysis, including hazmat routing and travelling around cities, rather than through them.
Additionally, the company is an active supplier partner of The Canadian Association of Chemical Distributors (CACD). The association is the voice of Canada’s chemical distribution industry, a non-profit trade association which represents 46 member companies across Canada, with 169 sites. “From a due diligence standpoint and a responsibility standpoint, it is a very good idea to be a member of the CACD and it shows responsible distribution of chemicals,” states Berry.
To ship products safely, the company often exceeds existing standards. It appreciates and understands client needs for safety and security in a supply chain. Utilizing state-of-the-art vehicle tracking systems, including GPS, to provide valuable data on vehicle location, route and speed, Premier Bulk tracks shipments in real time.
Premier Bulk Systems Ltd is highly skilled in bulk liquid transportation and moves a variety of products safely and efficiently. Every sector provides different challenges, and the company takes pride in meeting these challenges head-on with experience and the utmost professionalism.
When it comes to the safe transportation of bulk chemicals, the company maintains a strict adherence to safety via in-house maintenance, a rigid maintenance program and education for drivers including orientation, training and quarterly safety meetings. The company complies with all government security guidelines, is C-TPAT certified and FAST approved, and adheres to all internal and external regulations for the safe transportation of hazardous materials.
Premier Bulk is experienced in the transportation of food grade materials. With decades of combined industry know-how, the company has become a respected food-grade bulk carrier, known for the cleanliness of its vehicles and meticulous record-keeping of clean-out and previously contained products. It has secure supply chain tracking of speed and location utilizing the latest technology and certification with the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR). The not-for-profit, community-based organization is the country’s largest kosher certifier.
Among the company’s many affiliations, it has been a member of National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) since 2001, a respected non-profit organization that has championed safety and success in the tank truck community since 1945. Membership in the NTTC holds many benefits for Premier Bulk Systems Ltd, ranging from networking and meeting with peers to providing weekly and monthly newsletters and updates about regulations affecting tank transportation and the transportation industry as a whole.
“They are a really great means of information,” says Berry of the NTTC, which also serves the company as an advocate with the U.S. government and the American Trucking Association.
Premier is also a long standing member of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), of which Berry was named to the board of directors, specifically on the executive. Founded in 1926, the OTA serves as the “voice of responsible trucking in Ontario,” and is one of the largest trucking associations in North America, representing all sectors of the industry.
Earlier this year, Premier Bulk Systems Ltd relocated from its old premises in Richmond Hill and proudly opened a new, state-of-the-art facility at 25 Gormley Industrial Avenue in Gormley, Ontario. The current five-acre site contains a main 24,000 square foot structure built from the ground up with the company saving as many trees as possible during the construction process.
The new facility is strategically located near Toronto and many of the clients who are in the north-central to north-east portions of the city, and it is conveniently five minutes away from Highway 404. As an additional benefit, it is also closer to home for many office staff and mechanics.
“We have drive thru mechanical bays; our shop is one hundred feet long,” comments Berry of the new facility. “We have a service pit. We have a twenty-four-hour drive-through wash bay.” Additionally, a fifty horsepower boiler was installed for steam heating products and can warm products within trailers from the bottom up.
The company has rarely advertised for an internal staff member. They come from referrals, prior knowledge of individuals, and some people worked with or for Kevin in earlier jobs. “We are a big proponent of internal training. We will take internal staff and put years of training into them to bring them up to our next levels.” The company has a strong belief in internal promotion and training, both within the company and externally.
“For our drivers, we have one person whose sole responsibility is recruiting and training and, most importantly, retention.” The company has exceptional staff retention rates of about ninety-eight percent for internal staff and mechanics and a turnover rate of just ten percent for drivers.
Premier Bulk Systems Ltd continues to expand its fleet and sales which, says the company’s founder, go hand-in-hand. “The bigger your fleet, the more your sales are,” he says. “We are continually looking for growth. We are at a position now where internal growth is starting to get difficult, so we are going to start looking at acquisition of smaller haul companies and depots.”