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Articles > Tim Horton's Trucking Recipe

3 Jul 2013

 Tim Horton's Trucking Recipe

Like millions of other Canadians, I start my day at Tim Hortons. I don’t, however, have coffee. Even though I love the aroma, I’ve never developed a taste for java. So I order tea.

Again, like so many of you, I was first introduced to Timmie’s back in the early ’80s when my father would make the first stop on family summer trips. With we Brodericks, those trips were invariably to Niagara Falls, an hour and a half south of home.

We would hit the Oakville location, which unbeknown to us was also head office and central distribution center. Back then, the store fronts were completely different. I don’t recall any drive-thrus but I do remember eyeing (hungrily) the rainbow array of doughnuts behind the glass, and I also — believe it or not — recall wondering how the heck they got all that stuff into their stores. How many doughnuts could you get into one of those trailers?

Fast forward almost 30 years. I’ve made a career in trucking, and Timmies has grown into legend.

Established by hockey hero Horton and his partner Ron Joyce in 1964, Tim Horton’s is the most recognized chain in Canada. Bruce Dimmel, Vice President Distribution, told me the restaurants number more than 3,500 across the country with 700 more beyond our borders. There are five Tim Hortons in Dubai.

I had a chance to share a Timmies (tea) recently with five of the top brass: vice president, national distribution Bruce Dimmel, Director of Distribution-Guelph Vince Kennedy; National Safety, Compliance and Training Officer Mark Mostacci; Fleet Manager-Guelph Trevor Davis and Director of Supply Chain Sustainability and Restaurant Relations Ken Hare.

I came away from the coffee klatch knowing that Timmies is as good at trucking as they are at coffee.

Here are a few Tim Bits of proof:

30,000 cartons of coffee are shipped to restaurants around the world. This is the equivalent to 18 to 20 truckloads a week or roughly four million packages of coffee;

50 to 60 thousand cartons of baked goods per week are shipped worldwide from Guelph;

Over 400,000 cases of product were shipped out of the Guelph facility the week I visited;

23.5 million cases of products go through the Guelph facility each year;

Annual driver employee absenteeism runs at less than 0.93 percent;

The term “Double Double” is a Tim’s invention;

Original partner and former cop Ron Joyce created the Dutchie donut and it remains one of their most popular items;

Typical of their outlets, the Guelph, ON, facility has a 98.6-percent on-time efficiency rate. Of 370 store deliveries made the week prior to my visit, 365 were on time.

There’s more:

Distribution Directors such as Kennedy and local fleet managers like Davis travel regularly with Tims drivers to ensure ­customer satisfaction remains high. They consider their restaurants to be customers and TDL (the corporate name for Timmies) wants internal customers as happy as external ones.

For internal partners; a.k.a., employees, TDL does the following:

Provides aggressive incentive bonus programs based on company and individual performance levels;

Provides regular service awards;

Provides a comprehensive benefit package as well as a pension plan.

Tims uses only the right equipment, spec’d for the right environment. Drivers in western Canada were having problems with tailgates not operating properly in extremely cold temperatures. TDL listened to their drivers, conducted extensive research and found a better system for their application and changed the ­system and OEM for their equipment. To ensure their power equipment is doing the job, they hold regular driver meetings to gather input on what the drivers want. TDL uses mainly Volvo as their class 8 ­supplier as well as Freightliner for their smaller intercity equipment supplier. TDL chooses equipment not only for comfort but for their fuel economy. Ken Hare says one of the main goals of their distribution network is to lower their carbon footprint of the fleet.

Across Canada they have moved over to a VNL Day Cab with a D13 engine for most of their drivers and have done away with sleeper units due to trouble getting into some locations.

TDL has created what they call a resident-driver program. In previous years, drivers were put up in hotels to complete two-day runs, each consisting of 12 stores served by two trailers.

Now, with their resident-driver program, trailers are delivered to their onsite locations in most provinces from regional DCs depending on where they are in the country. A local driver takes over in the morning and gets home that evening. I have seen this system work with other private fleets across the country, so it’s not surprising that every one of the Tim Hortons drivers I talked to said they like this system.

National Safety Compliance Officer Mostacci also told me they’re preparing to expand into LCVS in Alberta. He said with their B-Train operation already in place, it should be an easy change for his drivers to adapt to the 51-ft double trailer format. (“51-ft” you say? It’s not a typo. You’re forgetting the big tailgates.)

In the past 28 years, I have been involved in the transportation industry with both private and for-hire fleets and I must say I have seen few companies care for their employees the way TDL does.

There’s good reason they have an annual driver turnover of less than six percent. 

Guy H. Broderick