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Carrier Profiles

Thompson Emergency Freight Systems: High standards, superior performance... time tested

By Scott Loftis/Staff Writer
Posted Oct 25th 2011 5:23AM

For shippers and receivers who need time-sensitive freight moved across the U.S.-Canadian border, Thompson Emergency Freight Systems is often a life-saver.

Based in Tecumseh, Ontario, (close to the Ambassador bridge) Thompson has been in business for almost 30-years and has earned the reputation as a leader within the cross-border expedite transportation industry (their core business is serving the automotive industry).

The foundation of that reputation, of course, is Thompson’s Owner-Operator partners — the drivers who get that freight where it’s supposed to be, when it’s supposed to be there.

Thompson prides itself on being the best, and on having the best Owner-Operators.

“Running the border requires different levels of certification, and our standard is very high,” said Mark Bortolotti, Thompson’s recruiting manager. “We only recruit drivers who are ‘FAST-approved.’ It’s an acronym for “Free And Secure Trade”, which allows you to cross the border quicker. The problem is, the vast majority of truckers on the road don’t have a FAST card, and they can’t get one. At Thompson, all of our drivers are FAST-approved.”

Thompson’s drivers are also experienced, have clean driving abstracts and are good communicators, which Bortolotti said is appreciated by the company’s customers.
“If you’re focused on the cross-border expedite market, you really want to meet the highest level of standards that governments require,” Bortolotti said. “Every one of our drivers is holding a FAST card and has at least one year of over-the-road experience.

“We’re proud of where we’re at. We want to grow, but we want to do it responsibly, by bringing on quality drivers one at a time and working hard not to lose the ones we have.”

Thompson is a family-owned company and Bortolotti said the company takes pride in the longevity of its employees and the culture it has established. “Our office staff are veterans, the average tenure with the company is 12-years,” he said. “As a result, whether it’s dealing with customers, or drivers — and I hear this all the time from people — we’re credited with being very knowledgeable and helpful.

Thompson’s fleet size is significant, which makes them relevant to large purchasers of cross-border transportation, like Domestic and Foreign owned Auto Manufactures, but it’s not so big that you’re a number,” Bortolotti said. “Everybody knows everybody on a first-name basis. Everybody treats each other with respect.”

Safety and performance are top priorities for Thompson, as well.
“We have won numerous awards over the years for on-time performance,” Bortolotti said. “If you asked our customers about us, they would tell you that what sets us apart is our ability to get the job done — hence, the ‘EMERGENCY’ in our name.

“In addition to the many service awards from our key customers, we’ve also won a lot of safety awards,” Bortolotti said. “We were just awarded ‘Platinum Status’ from Markel Insurance (Canada’s largest trucking insurer), based on our longstanding fleet safety record. This is a very rare status, which represents <5 percent of their entire customer base.”

Thompson achieves its outstanding performance and safety records by working with the top Owner-Operators and by providing solid training.

“We pay our drivers very well,” Bortolotti said. “Their annual income is generally at the top of the industry curve. Additionally, we offer significant in-house training when drivers start at orientation, followed-up by regular meetings, so our drivers are always kept up to date. In fact, we offer safety bonuses to our drivers annually”

Click Here to apply now!

Thompson also ensures its Owner-Operators have access to top technology.

“We track all of our equipment real time, which is what our customers require,” Bortolotti said. “But we’ve moved away from the big and expensive GPS satellites (that are actually fixed on the roof of the truck) to handheld communication devices. Our drivers communicate with the office via mike and/or cell phone from anywhere. They can also communicate via e-mail, text, and the GPS tracking device is embedded in the phone, which is a lot less expensive. We really pride ourselves on being ahead of the technology curve, but not to the point that we’re burdening our drivers with extra costs. Anytime you can reduce the expense side of the equation to Owner-Operators, you’re helping out your workforce.”

Thompson’s longevity and experience with cross-border expediting also benefits its Owner-Operators, in that the company knows how to handle the tricky logistics associated with moving freight back and forth between Canada and the United States.

“We’ve been at it for so long now that we’ve set the standard,” Bortolotti said.

Shippers have come to count on Thompson, especially in today’s economy when manufacturers keep inventories to a minimum.

“We often come in as the ‘knight in shining armor to save the day’,” Bortolotti said. “A lot of customers ask ‘Can you take this, now? It’s hot and has to deliver direct, or we’re going to shut down the line.’ If we can legally and logistically handle the load, off we go.

Our confidence comes from the understanding that our equipment is new enough, our driver is experienced enough, and FAST-approved (so he won’t get hung up at the border). Additionally, our dispatch is very knowledgeable in terms of efficiently clearing the shipment at Customs. When show up on time with their load, they often call back to voice their appreciation and support.

“We’re high-visibility. It’s almost like a parting of the sea when our guys come in to some of these huge factories, because the receivers know they need the parts now and don’t want us to get caught standing in line to unload. Everybody takes a lot of pride in the fact that when they call us and we commit, we get it done.”

Thompson is currently seeking experienced owner-operators of; Sprinter Vans, Straight Trucks and Tractors, who meet the company’s qualifications. For each of these vehicle types, they are offering a lucrative ‘Sign-On Bonus’. Additionally, they pay for; tolls, permits, plates, insurance and offer a comprehensive benefit plan.

If an experienced Ontario based Owner Operator, with a valid FAST card and clean abstracts is looking to join a time-tested, winning team, they should call; Mark Bortolotti at (800) 265-7332 #249.

Click Here to apply now!

12 Comments

  • - November 4, 2011
    Bog-=|=-Thompson is full of it ! If u want a successful career stay away from them ! They known as the brokkers make u go bankrupt ,
  • - November 4, 2011
    Bog-=|=-Thompson is full of it ! If u want a successful career stay away from them ! They known as the brokkers make u go bankrupt ,
  • - October 24, 2013
    TJ Johnson-=|=-Am actively looking into purchasing a brand new 2500 Sprinter van EXT high roof model and was wondering if anyone can provide any anonymous feedback about what it is like to work for Thompson. With ten grand down I can get payments to approx. $600 for a well-equipped vehicle. I've reviewed Thompson's website several times and am intrigued with what they offer owner-operators, but something tells me it's too good to be true. Am I just too cynical? I'm tired of the computer business and used to drive delivery trucks in the 80's and would like to go back to 'the simple life'. Please, if you have any information about working for Thompson at all, please share. Do you actually make a good living? Do they keep you busy? Do you have to spend many days away from home in a row, or are you home at the end of the day most of the time? Thanks - TJ
  • - October 24, 2013
    TJ Johnson-=|=-Am actively looking into purchasing a brand new 2500 Sprinter van EXT high roof model and was wondering if anyone can provide any anonymous feedback about what it is like to work for Thompson. With ten grand down I can get payments to approx. $600 for a well-equipped vehicle. I've reviewed Thompson's website several times and am intrigued with what they offer owner-operators, but something tells me it's too good to be true. Am I just too cynical? I'm tired of the computer business and used to drive delivery trucks in the 80's and would like to go back to 'the simple life'. Please, if you have any information about working for Thompson at all, please share. Do you actually make a good living? Do they keep you busy? Do you have to spend many days away from home in a row, or are you home at the end of the day most of the time? Thanks - TJ
  • - October 27, 2013
    MariaHello TJ,-=|=-Hello TJ,
    My husband and I have been with this company since 2005 and as far as the trucking industry goes, they are a good company to drive for. We just down-sized to a Sprinter from a 5 ton and don't regret doing it. We do get home for Sundays, but are out all week. They do pay every week and as long as we get our paperwork in on time, we get paid on time. It is the team effort that helps you make it in this industry.
    I hope this was of some help to you.
  • - October 27, 2013
    MariaHello TJ,-=|=-Hello TJ,
    My husband and I have been with this company since 2005 and as far as the trucking industry goes, they are a good company to drive for. We just down-sized to a Sprinter from a 5 ton and don't regret doing it. We do get home for Sundays, but are out all week. They do pay every week and as long as we get our paperwork in on time, we get paid on time. It is the team effort that helps you make it in this industry.
    I hope this was of some help to you.
  • - October 27, 2013
    TJ Johnson-=|=-Thanks Maria! Are you telling me that I would need to team with my lady or someone else to be able to make a living driving a sprinter? Too hard to do it alone? If I can't do it alone I won't be able to do it at all, nor would I want to invest in a business that pays so little. I hope it's possible to make a decent living driving alone though.

    Thanks so much for your insight! Very valuable to me!
  • - October 27, 2013
    TJ Johnson-=|=-Thanks Maria! Are you telling me that I would need to team with my lady or someone else to be able to make a living driving a sprinter? Too hard to do it alone? If I can't do it alone I won't be able to do it at all, nor would I want to invest in a business that pays so little. I hope it's possible to make a decent living driving alone though.

    Thanks so much for your insight! Very valuable to me!
  • - October 29, 2013
    Maria-=|=-Hello,
    By "team effort", I meant the drivers and the company. But definitely do your research, in the end it's all about how much time you want to put into it, and it is possible for you to make it on your own.
  • - October 29, 2013
    Maria-=|=-Hello,
    By "team effort", I meant the drivers and the company. But definitely do your research, in the end it's all about how much time you want to put into it, and it is possible for you to make it on your own.

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