WINNIPEG, Man. — Manitoba’s 2019 Driver of the Year, Big Freight’s Robert Pigeau, draws on a military background and a commitment to serve his community.
WINNIPEG, Man. — Seaton “Red” Coleman of Big Freight Systems found his 1942 Chevrolet among ads in the American Truck Historical Society’s magazine. The former fire truck had to be imported from Minnesota for a restoration, but it would serve as the perfect homage to South East Transfer – the four-truck Manitoba fleet he convinced his dad to buy in 1948, establishing the business that would eventually carry the Big Freight name.
STEINBACH, MB — Big Freight Systems wasn’t for sale. The Coleman family had been running the business since 1948, when they bought South East Transfer in Steinbach, Manitoba. Chief Executive Officer Gary Coleman was focused entirely on finding ways to grow.
When a courier package arrived from Don Daseke, proposing a potential sale, he simply filed it away.
But Daseke persisted. The pair met in person. And this spring Big Freight Systems became the first Canadian operation in Daseke Inc.’s expanding family of specialized, flatbed carriers.
“His philosophy on business, his philosophy on people, his philosophy in terms of driving success forward through collaboration, all ran very close to me,” Coleman recalls. “I got comfortable with his long-term plan.”
That plan is to consolidate fleets in an industry sector dominated by family-owned businesses. The Texas entrepreneur has secured more than 3,800 trucks and 8,200 trailers so far, accounting for about 1% of what Daseke estimates is a US $133 billion market. The business reported $30 million in revenue in 2009, growing to a pro forma of $869 million last year. And more acquisitions are in the works.
Daseke refers to himself as an accidental trucker. He began his career as an auditor, held roles at IBM, and later built a residential real estate business that sold for US $1.7 billion. He first invested in trucking nine years ago only after a friend introduced him to Smokey Point Distributing, which specialized in aviation cargo. That became the first of today’s 13 operating companies.
NASHVILLE, TN – Manitoba-based Bison Transport and Big Freight were awarded the Truckload Carriers Association’s National Fleet Safety grand prizes for small and large carriers during Tuesday’s Truckload Carriers Association’s 41st annual awards.
The awards are given to companies who display an unparalleled commitment to safety. Divisional winners were divided into six categories defined by miles driven. Those companies were then invited to compete for one of two grand prizes, one for carriers with annual mileage below 25 million miles and the other for companies who accumulate over 25 million miles.
Companies competing for the award have the lowest accident frequency ratios per million miles annually.
STEINBACH, Man. — It’s been a long time since Seaton “Red” Coleman and his father George put their personal stamp on South East Transfer, and the family is still trucking along.