As 2020 comes to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting on the challenges and highlights from this past year, as well as planning for what’s to come in 2021. At the core of our business is the phrase “Delivered as Promised,” which is our commitment to our customers and everyone we work with.
The Challenges We Faced in 2020
When the pandemic hit Canada and the world in the spring, many experts predicted the economy to slow down. In response, most transportation companies cut their capacity by 30%. What no one anticipated was the drastic increase in online shopping that resulted from people working from home and focusing on home improvement, renovations, gardening, and other projects. The Chinese economy also rebounded quicker than expected and manufacturing increased to meet demand. This created a massive bottleneck of shipping, air, rail, and trucking services that we are still experiencing now.
Our biggest challenge this year was helping our customers adjust to new transportation realities of limited capacity, increased prices, and shipment delays. Much of our supply chain is beyond our control, and our teams have had to continually communicate with our customers, educating them and helping them to plan so that their operations would not be impacted negatively.
A second challenge was not having our usual outlets to encourage our staff and keep morale up. In previous years, team gatherings such as staff events, birthday celebrations, and our annual Christmas party helped bring our team together and combat the stress of working in a fast-paced industry. The realities of this year’s transportation industry brought additional stress, and our leadership team was challenged to find alternative ways to take care of our staff.
Things I’m Grateful for in 2020
There is much to be grateful for this year. In the midst of the challenges I have seen the resilience of our customers, our partners, our agents, and our team.
I’m grateful to our amazing customers for their continued support for us, whether they send shipments every week or once a year.
I’m grateful for the strong relationships we have with our transportation partners and overseas agents and how they have stepped up their commitment to serve us and our customers well.
And I’m so grateful for our team’s adaptability, innovation, and commitment. Because of the investment they made in setting up and learning our cloud-based ERP system over the last two years, they were able to pivot quickly to working from home while providing the same high-level service to our customers and delivering on our promises.
2021 Predictions and Recommendations
Looking ahead to 2021, I expect the first three quarters to be similar to the last 6 months. It will take the majority of next year before the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed to enough people for life to return to pre-pandemic ways. In the meantime, demand for transportation will continue to heavily outweigh supply. Transportation supply can only increase so much because its capacity is linked to what infrastructure exists in each country.
These are the recommendations I’ve been giving to my customers for 2021:
- Recognize that delays and lack of equipment and capacity will continue. Be sure to plan in advance as greater lead times will be needed.
- Transportation prices will continue to escalate in 2021 so consider fixed contracts to guarantee your rates.
- Weigh the benefits and costs of diversifying your supply chain. Many experts recommend supply chain diversification, but this takes time and is costly. Even though transportation costs are escalating, diversifying your supply chain may end up costing even more.
On a personal note, a milestone in our family is that my older son Jeremy is heading to college in January. One of my favourite memories was having him accompany me as a toddler as I delivered Christmas gifts to our customers and partners. Some of you may remember meeting him. As I reflect back, I have known some of you for over 20 years, and others have worked with Canaan Group even longer. Next year Canaan Group also reaches the milestone of being in business for 40 years. Whether we have worked with you for a year or 40 years, we look forward to growing our relationship with you in the future.
As 2020 wraps up I want to tell you that we are grateful for you and your relationship with us. Thank you! Wishing you, your team, and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
CEO, Canaan Group
Canaan Group Holiday Hours:
- Christmas Eve (Dec 24) – 8:00am – 12:00noon
- Christmas Day (Dec 25) – Closed
- December 28 – 30 – Regular Hours
- New Year’s Eve (Dec 31) – 8:00am – 12:00noon
- New Year’s Day (Jan 1) – Closed