In Conversation with Logistec Corporation

The Logistec brand is widely known in Canada and the United States throughout the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, East Coast and Gulf Coast regions. But it’s much more than a vast network of stevedoring facilities, increasingly encompassing innovative environmental services. In an exclusive interview, Madeleine Paquin, president and CEO, talks business expansion and the supply chain industry’s challenges.

Q: How would you describe the over-arching vision of the company?

A: The LOGISTEC family’s success is built on its fundamental values of reliability, sustainability, imagination, and the need to go beyond. Above all LOGISTEC is about people working together with a common vision: to be the provider of choice for safe, sustainable and creative solutions in our specialized marine and environmental sectors. It’s our combination of expertise, resourcefulness and most importantly imagination that allows us to tackle today’s complex challenges and makes us unique in the industry.

Madeleine Paquin, President and CEO

Q: For years, the Logistec name was mainly associated with stevedoring facilities in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and East Coast regions. Logistec’s network recently expanded to 61 terminals in 37 ports with two strategic acquisitions in the Gulf — Gulf Stream Marine (Houston) and Pate Stevedore (Pensacola). What lies behind the growing presence in the U.S. market?

A: LOGISTEC is totally unique. The LOGISTEC family has been around since 1952. Our success can be traced back to our visionary founder, my father Roger Paquin. His innate drive, his ambition, his commitment to going beyond for his customers and uncanny flair for predicting changes in the industry, has carried through this generation. This has enabled LOGISTEC to thrive over 65 years in a constantly evolving marine industry.
We offer a unique combination of marine and environmental services. With over 2,400 people across North America spanning from the cold Arctic, to Montréal, now down to the U.S. Gulf. Throughout our history, we strove to increase and strengthen our operations through organic growth and business acquisitions. This remains the case today. We are investing in our future. We are very excited about our future in our three cargo-handling activities: container, bulk and general cargo. 

In 2018, we made very strategic acquisitions: Gulf Stream Marine and Pate Stevedoring. Great new assets – covering an important geographic area for our expanding network, and both led by excellent teams. With these acquisitions, LOGISTEC has now definitively established a stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico. We continue to strengthen our position in Canada, as well as in the United States. At the end of the day, what made us focus on the U.S. Gulf Coast was the opportunity to open new markets for our customers. We will continue to listen to our customers and work closely with them to find the right opportunities.

Q: Finding skilled manpower has in recent years emerged as one of the biggest challenges in the global marine industry. What are your views on this?

A:  All of us today are challenged to find the best talent. But, the pool is getting smaller and companies are working harder than ever to fill key positions. So, it is no longer about job creation. It is about attracting and retaining talent. And this has never been more important than in our industry. 

Is our industry sufficiently a magnet for talent? Well, according to an SCM World survey of over 500 supply chain professionals, the task of attracting sufficient numbers of talented millennials into the supply chain is an uphill battle. I may think our industry is very cool, but most surveys do not support my theory! It’s time to rebrand our industry to attract the next generation.
The new generation will play a major role in our industry – they will help us because they think differently. How is our industry going to respond to the challenge of always getting better, more competitive, more customer friendly, more fluid, if we can’t attract bright people to our industry? We need to make supply chain an attractive and exciting career option for passionate young talent who might otherwise choose to work in other industries. We need to do this pro-actively. Finding ways to transfer knowledge and expertise to the next generation and developing younger millennials in a way that keeps them engaged, are critical issues for us supply chain leaders.
We also need to better understand this new generation. The millennials grew up with smart tools in their hands, like iPads, practically from birth. Among
millennials that we are today introducing to the LOGISTEC family, there is so much we can harness. Armed with their iPads and connected to the world, the young millennials are positive and embracing innovation, sharing, and collaboration for the greater good. We need more of this spirit on the waterfront.

Q: If you could ask the federal government for one policy or change to facilitate the growth of the marine shipping industry in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, what would it be?

I do not believe that one policy will make the difference. We need to roll up our sleeves and work closely with all key stakeholders on both sides of the border to develop complementary policies and programs that facilitate growth and recognize the marine industry’s significant environmental and social benefits.

Q: Today, environmental services, notably rehabilitating water mains in North American cities have become as important as marine services for Logistec’s overall business. What has driven this innovative path?

Do you know that every day, nearly 6 billion gallons of drinking water are lost due to leaking pipes? The aging drinking water infrastructure is a major challenge for communities across North America. Our scientists developed a technology to respond to this reality. Working closely with Montreal, a city known for its innovative mindset, our team was able to demonstrate the value of this technology. We are now helping cities like Toronto, New York and others.

Q: Finally, some thoughts on Logistec’s Arctic supply operations that have been active since 1998 through its subsidiary NEAS (Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping). Do you see this sector expanding?

We are optimistic. Northern communities rely on marine resupply operations to receive up to 95 per cent of their goods. We are pleased to see that the Government of Canada is focusing on the health of our Arctic coast and enhancing the safety and security of these resupply operations. The LOGISTEC family including NEAS and Sanexen are working with local communities, Inuit and Indigenous peoples to come up with sustainable solutions that make sense for the environment and most of all for the families that live there.

By Leo Ryan