In It for the Long Haul

Speedee Transport
Written by Samita Sarkar

Speedee Transport is a Burnaby-based logistics company specializing in providing temperature-controlled transportation solutions. From major corporations like Loblaws and Nestlé to smaller startups like TruLocal, western Canada’s leading manufacturers and distributors have come to depend on Speedee as a trusted transport partner to deliver everything from food to furniture.
Founder and Chairman Eric Ee started the family-owned business in 1976 under the umbrella of Rolls Right Industries, after immigrating to Canada from Malaysia. Working long hours and risking everything he had to build the business from scratch, he grew his company based on five pillars of success: Long-Term Thinking; Be Systematic; Specialize; Be Customer Focused; and Embrace Technology.

In addition, Rolls Right’s Speedee arm was started in 2007 to operate under these pillars as well as five company values: hire the best, do what you say, help each other, learn at the gate, and have fun and celebrate successes.

Today, Speedee’s legacy is carried on by Eric Ee’s sons, CEO Daryl Ee and President Carlton Ee. The company continues to distinguish itself in the market to this day with its exceptional service and corporate culture.

“We breathe our culture,” Daryl Ee tells us. “We put our people first so they enjoy coming to work because what they do is important. Our culture is very service-driven and people-focused.”

Another differentiator is Speedee’s commitment to technology – pillar five. Speedee Transport has built an internal, proprietary software system, customized for its customer team and specific processes. By investing in technology, Speedee is able to be more efficient and competitive in the marketplace, transporting your precious goods in a timely, high-quality, and temperature-controlled fashion.

This is certainly a big step forward from the company’s early years in the 1970s, when all dispatches had to be made via telephone or in person. In the pre-digital era, making technological investments was a risky move for a small but growing business, but making long-term decisions has consistently been what has gotten Speedee ahead. According to the company website, Founder Eric Ee’s first pillar and lesson to the next generation was that all choices must be made with the understanding that the team was in it for the long haul. “There was never any question about deciding based on a short-term win. It has always been about what’s best for the business to ensure long-term sustainability.”

In this way, Speedee was able to grow to a company of over 200 talented team members, support multiple charities, and meet several industry milestones. As its reputation grew, so did the business. “We haven’t done a lot of sales marketing in comparison to companies with a larger sales force. A lot of our business comes in through referrals, word of mouth. We’ve been very blessed that way,” says Daryl Ee.

Partnering with other industry leaders has also contributed significantly to Speedee’s ongoing success. For example, “We have worked with Crestcom as our leadership and management skills development provider since the inception of our company,” says Ee. “Crestcom provides actionable skills and tools that enable our managers and supervisors to grow at our fast pace, create business efficiencies and improvements and most importantly help us create the culture that makes Speedee great. Crestcom is a key partner for our business.”

This year, Speedee Transport reached a new echelon with $50 million in annual sales. It has also been recognized numerous times in recent years. In 2018, it was named a top freight firm by TT News and was nominated for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Private Business Growth Award. In 2017, Daryl Ee was featured in Business in Vancouver’s “Forty Under 40.” In 2016, Speedee earned the title of Transportation Short Haul Carrier of the Year from Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada.

From a company of one, Speedee has grown through the hiring of driven candidates who share the Speedee vision. Daryl Ee remarks that when seeking recruits, he looks for people who are hungry to learn, grow, develop themselves, and work respectfully and collaboratively in a team.

“We hire on attitude first, before anything else,” he shares. “Having a Master’s degree and 10 years’ experience isn’t what matters most; as long as people have a really good attitude, are willing to learn and work hard, and have good communication skills, then those people will tend to fit well with our culture. Experience is great, and some company veterans have 20 years’ experience, but there are some people who have zero experience, who you can train from the ground all the way up. That can be a benefit to the company as well.”

In fact, Speedee has hired people with absolutely no experience in the industry and given them an opportunity for a rewarding career. Offering its team members lots of room for internal growth, career development, and promotion, the company is proud to be growing alongside its team.

The Speedee family has certainly been fortunate with all of the goals that it has realized over the years, and is dedicated to serving and giving back. A good corporate citizen, Speedee supports several non-profits both locally and internationally. These include World Vision, the Rexall™ OneWalk to Conquer Cancer™, Purdys Chocolatier’s Clean Water Project, Ukraine Destiny Center, Abundant Life Home (Thailand), and Habitat for Humanity. Speedee also supports the BC Children’s Hospital and the Calgary Food Bank.

In particular, Daryl Ee tells us that helping Ukraine’s Destiny Center for Orphan Students has been a rewarding experience of providing financial support as well as putting feet on the ground. The center was started in 2008 to help orphanage youth adapt to an independent life. Once they’ve completed the programs, students are then able to return as volunteers to help new youth go through the programs, giving a sense of community to those who may otherwise fall through the cracks.

“They take on youth that don’t have homes to live in, and give them a chance to come and live, make friends, study music, learn life skills, take camping trips, and just have a sense of family which they don’t usually have because they are in foster homes. It is a place that we have visited in Ukraine,” Ee describes.

In the future, Speedee Transport plans to continue its ride on an upward trajectory, growing sustainably in its logistics market while giving back to the community and the world whenever possible.

Just last year, Speedee moved into a new, 28,000 square-foot facility in Burnaby, British Columbia. The centrally located corporate headquarters has 8,000 square feet of open-concept office space.

“We’ve got ping pong tables, a badminton court, and an open layout with much more space that is brighter and roomier,” says Ee. “People seem to really like it and it fits our culture well. Others don’t work well in an open desk environment because it gets distracting, but our environment is collaborative – we talk to team members on a regular basis – so an open concept works well for our specific type of business.”

The 20,000 square-foot cross-hub facility, equipped with both refrigerated and dry storage space, has access to over 50 bay doors. Speedee uses the hub for nightly departures in LTL consolidation. “We provide LTL services to all key markets in western Canada from this cross hub facility,” Ee adds.

On top of this new headquarters, Speedee has other terminal and warehousing locations in Alberta, Ontario, and other parts of British Columbia. Currently very active in the western region, Speedee Transport’s long-term goals are to expand into other parts of North America with its temperature-controlled solutions.

In order to keep growing, Speedee plans to do more of what it has been doing, which has been proven to work: hire amazing talent, develop them, and help them grow within the company. At the same time, Speedee will continue to provide the best experience for customers without any excuses, going above and beyond every time, and always consider things from the customer’s perspective. Of course, the customer-focused company will also continue to reinvest in itself through technology and infrastructure, thinking about long-term gains.

Ever since the company’s humble beginnings in 1976, Speedee Transport has been in it for the long haul. Following Eric Ee’s example, the pillars of success, and Speedee’s company values, the company will be here to provide its valued services for you and your shipments for years to come.



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