MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – A slight name change nearly spelled the end of Roofmart’s delivery business.
The company, which has a fleet of 170 trucks across Canada to deliver roofing products and supplies to jobsites, was denied a CVOR when it applied under its new name in 2015.
“The MTO said ‘No.’ Flat out, ‘No’,” said Tim Charles, health and safety training manager, Roofmart. He was speaking at ISB Global Services’ annual Biz and Breakfast Nov. 13. “’You’re not getting a CVOR, you don’t deserve it’.”
And, admitted Charles, the company didn’t. It had a CVOR violation rate of 87.54%.
“Horrible’s not even the word,” he admitted. Charles was a Roofmart driver and was assigned the task of getting the company’s fleet back on track. In April 2015, he went to the MTO, “hat in hand,” to beg for forgiveness.
“There are two approaches you can take,” he said. “You can slam your first on the table and say ‘How dare you affect my way of life,’ or we can provide a plan, say ‘We screwed up, no excuses. We’re going to be completely responsible for all our actions.’ Based on that plan, and the fact we didn’t make one excuse, they granted us a conditional CVOR.”
Knowing the company would be under intense scrutiny, Charles set out to change the corporate culture.
“To correct our CVOR, we had to figure out our weaknesses,” he recalled. And there were many. One driver had 12 violations in a single day. Pre-trips were rarely done. The trucks were in shambles and falling apart. Load securement violations were the norm.
“Guys were using bungee cords to hold down 500 lbs of material,” Charles admitted.
Hours-of-service rules were largely ignored. One driver had been on the road for 17 hours.
Charles began by assessing the drivers’ knowledge and skills. He found many had forgotten how to properly secure loads, measure brake stroke, and fill out logbooks.
“I scored drivers and made priorities,” he said, working with the weakest drivers first. “We had some phenomenal drivers, but you’re only as good as the weakest link.”
There was virtually no training at Roofmart, but Charles brought in 17 training courses, with another three to be rolled out soon. Drivers were not pleased at first.
“The biggest challenge for me was, I was a driver. I was a driver, now I’m teaching the drivers,” Charles said. “Over time, the resistance subsided and they started buying in.”
Training was developed in partnership with the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association at a large cost. All drivers, managers, and regional managers were required to attend courses.
Next, attention was given to the equipment.
“We used to have rattling pieces of crap going down the street,” Charles admitted. “They were a magnet for the MTO.”
The company has ordered about 23 new Kenworth trucks over the past couple years, ranging from $350,000 to $450,000 each. They were wrapped with sharp graphics and about $30,000 in upgrades were spec’d to make them more comfortable for drivers. Drivers spend an entire day learning about the truck before they take it out for the first time, and the trucks are regularly checked for cleanliness.
“If I see garbage on the floor, we’re having a conversation,” said Charles.
Drivers now take pride in the trucks, and so does the company. Roofmart even had hardhats decaled to match the fleet graphics.
Sharing knowledge is a core value of Roofmart’s. To that end, the company now has monthly ‘toolbox talks,’ covering topics such as maintenance, regulatory changes, safe driving, and violations. Drivers are recognized and congratulated for going above and beyond their duties.
Roofmart also strengthened its hiring process. A comprehensive background check is done on potential new hires. Next comes a full driver assessment, including a complete pre-trip and air brake inspection. Drivers are then given a road test. That’s followed by logbook and load securement training, lasting about two weeks. This allows Roofmart to train new hires to its own standards, including a minimum of two straps on every item.
“If you have a 50-lb box of nails, you’re going to put two straps on,” Charles said. “That was a culture shock for drivers. Now you see our trucks, there are two straps on everything.”
After that, drivers must still shadow another company driver for a week before they’re allowed to get behind the wheel.
Charles now checks the company’s CVOR rating monthly, ensuring drivers are reporting all violations, which in the past, they weren’t. Driver licence validations are also run monthly. Driver CVOR ratings and abstracts are examined quarterly.
“I sit down and analyze every single one,” Charles said. Logbooks are audited monthly. All the work is paying off. Charles said Roofmart now has a CVOR violation rate of 15%, but he’s not yet satisfied.
“It’s not where I want us to be,” he admitted.
The company has requested an MTO audit, which will be held in the second quarter of 2020.
“Our goal is to join the ranks of Excellent ratings and it will be maintained and guarded closely,” he vowed. “We will lead the industry by example.”