Transport Matte started with one truck, purchased by Hervé and Monique Matte in 1951.
They had a contract to transport forest residue to the Donnacona paper mill in Quebec. More than 60 years and 100 trucks later, the company is in its third generation of family ownership and continues to grow.
How has this family-run business remained strong for more than half a century?
According to owner Melany Matte, the company’s success comes from a number of factors, all stemming from a company culture of hard work.
In looking at the company’s history, there are several big milestones, much like the rings of the trees Matte sometimes transports.
In 1955, two more trucks were added to the fleet. However, everything was operated from the Matte home. Monique took care of accounting and dispatch as well as cooking the drivers’ meals they would eat at the family house before leaving for another trip. Hervé was mostly on the road to find new clients in addition to working on the weekends as master of ceremony to make ends meet.
The company continued to grow in the 1970s, adding more trucks to meet the needs of its customers. The couple’s children also decided at that time to join the company founded by their parents. However, tragedy struck and in 1981, Hervé died. In wanting to carry on the business, his 4 children took over.
“They had a lot of obstacles to overcome,” Matte said, “but they succeeded because of their great efforts and the company continued to grow.”
During those years, between 1981 and the early 2000s, different companies were formed by family members to meet other needs and comply with regulations of that time. In 2006, all merged together to form Transport Matte Limited.
“Since 2004, I and two of my cousins have been ensuring the continuation of the family business,” Matte said. “Even with Transport Matte becoming a bigger company—we have 120 employees now—we're still a family business and our operations reflect that spirit.”
Transport Matte has not only succeeded because of its work ethic, but also the company’s strong commitment to providing the best service to its customers, every time.
“Our mission is to maintain our leading position in the bulk transport of forest residues by meeting the needs of our customers with service that exceed expectations and staying abreast of their specific transportation needs,” Matte said.
The company operates in Quebec, Ontario, and the Canadian Maritimes. They have a diverse fleet of trucks and trailers that serve a number of different industries.
“We have a fleet of 100 trucks and 190 trailers in different regions,” Matte said. “This allows us to quickly serve our customers regardless of their location.”
This commitment to service also includes always being on call when a customer may need something.
“We have good and diversified equipment which allows us to be flexible and have a very short response time,” Matte said. “We're also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there's always someone on the phone who can quickly answer any question or address any problem for the client or the driver.”
In the end, it’s all about doing the best work they can for the customer.
“Service is what matters most to us,” Matte said. “Our team makes all the necessary efforts to make sure the clients always receive the number of loads they ask for and that it's delivered on time.”
While the family plays a major role in the company, its drivers and maintenance crew are equally important. The company takes a very personal approach when it comes to its employees, making its growing business still seem small.
“All of our drivers have their assigned truck,” Matte explained, “so they don't need to share it with anyone else.”
Also, drivers are supported by a top-notch maintenance team who are always working to ensure the trucks are cared for and maintenance is preventative rather than reactive.
In addition, the company works to create a culture that people want to be a part of.
“As a family business, we have human management and consider our employees as part of our success,” Matte said. “They know that we're always there to help them in any way. Even if they have personal problems, we're always there to listen.”
60 More Years?
In 2011, the company celebrated its 60th anniversary and is continuing to improve and grow, including taking a more high-tech approach to transport.
“We have invested a lot in recent years to use new computer systems to improve our competitiveness and service,” Matte said. “For example, we're now developing a new dispatch program to meet our specific needs. We're also finishing installing GPS tracking systems in every truck so our dispatchers can know at all times where our trucks are and better distribute them on the territory we serve in order to respond more effectively to our customers.”
Adaptation is key, as the market is quite a difficult one to be in. However, Matte sees that more as a chance to excel rather than be hindered.
“The wood market that we're in is not growing—it's actually been going down since the crisis in 2008,” she explained. “It started with a wood crisis which was followed up by the financial crisis. This challenges us to innovate more and diversify our operations in order to maintain our position on the market.”
The company is constantly looking for the best employees and to seize opportunities that could lead to furthering its growth. In the end, though, it all comes back to the family.
“The hard work of all our family members has made us what we are today,” Matte said. “Our family has always considered the well-being of the company, its clients, and employees before themselves. We're all very committed to the company and we put all necessary efforts in place to ensure its longevity.”
In pondering longevity, one might wonder what Transport Matte might look like in another 60 years. Melany Matte believes the company has found new life and stands at the beginning of a bright future.
“Right now, we’re in the third generation of the company’s business,” she said. “I would say it's bringing a breath of fresh air to everything. We bring new ideas and solutions to improve our operations and service. We're taking the company and hoping to continue it for another 60 years.”
For a company where one truck has become 100, there’s no telling what 100 might become.