A Freight Company Takes the Road to Success

Basin RevUp helps Invermere’s Columbia Valley Freight expand their services.

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Basin RevUP helps a business achieve even more

When an Invermere freight company identified a gap in the regional market, it saw an incredible opportunity on the horizon. With a vision of the road less travelled, business owners Mitch and Brienne Chabot quickly learned to drive Columbia Valley Freight toward rapid growth.

To do so, they sought expertise from Basin RevUP, Columbia Basin Trust’s advanced business accelerator program that supports high-achieving companies—which are poised for even more growth—with customized support, training and networking.

Planning and taking action

For nearly a year, the Chabots worked alongside an experienced team of business coaches, called Executives in Residence, who helped them create and execute a tailored, actionable plan.

“I saw an opportunity to expand our services and reach, but I wanted to do it right,” says Mitch. “We needed guidance and support to ensure that, while we moved forward and took on extreme growth, we also had structured, safe and scalable growth.”

With support from the Executives in Residence, they took a “10,000-foot view” of the company to determine exactly where they were and where they wanted to go. They then proactively planned for the future by mapping out a growth strategy that included taking steps to measure milestones and reach goals. They also learned how to gauge key performance indicators and the financial implications of business decisions.

“We had metrics to understand when we needed to add more employees and when we needed more assets,” says Mitch.

Adding and transitioning roles

Indeed, growing their team was a priority. Before long, two staff became 22, and they now have a well-mapped-out organizational chart.

Mitch, who grew up in the area, says, “I feel very proud that we’re creating quality jobs within the Columbia Valley.”

The Chabots also altered their own job descriptions. When they started with RevUP, the bottleneck of day-to-day operations interfered with their expansion plans. Mitch was driving a truck, answering phones and dealing with customers, while Brienne managed dispatch and helped with invoicing. They have since transitioned into leadership roles: Mitch as President and Brienne managing the operations team.

“We empowered our team so much that we had more time and dedication to put into the RevUP program,” says Brienne. “I was no longer on my phone putting out fires. Because our team was so good, we felt confident they could handle things.”

Adjusting assets

The action plan extended beyond just people. Columbia Valley Freight also invested in its fleet, upgrading from two box trucks to 23 pieces of hauling and storage equipment. This enabled it to expand its operation from two regular routes per week to five per day throughout the East Kootenay and Southern Alberta, helping Columbia Valley businesses improve their abilities to export goods and expand their reach.

“That’s what really excited us,” says Mitch. “Being able to support other businesses is extremely rewarding.”

To oversee it all, the company implemented technological solutions to improve communications with their customers and team. Trucks equipped with GPS systems now track their drivers’ progress and enforce safety requirements, such as zero tolerance for excessive speeding. The digitized operation also ensures the fleet is well maintained and notifies dispatch of upcoming deliveries and completed jobs.

Thankful for this “crucial” experience

With the aid of Basin RevUP and the team of Executives in Residence, the company quadrupled its revenue and has solidified its future.

“The coaches really heard us and supported us,” says Brienne. “They didn’t necessarily give us the answers, which was amazing; instead, they would help us problem-solve and give us the skills to move forward and be able to thrive independently.”

Mitch agrees. “I honestly don’t think we would be where we are today if it wasn’t for the Trust’s RevUP program. The accountability and coaching along the way gave us the ability to adapt and change our view on how we can best operate our business. This experience has been crucial, and I’m so glad we invested the time.”

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