Celebrating 40 Years of Business

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Canaan Group celebrated 40 years in business last year. With all the volatility in the transportation industry in 2021, I haven’t had any time to reflect on this milestone until now. As I think back over the past 40 years, the most important figure was my late father who started this business. It also happens to be 20 years since he passed away. To commemorate 40 years of the business my father established, it seems most fitting to share his life story with you.

My parents, Paul and Jady Lo, immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1975. Because my father worked at a large logistics business in Hong Kong, he was one of the few people sent by the company to start a new office in Canada.

Paul was a forward-thinking person, and after a few years of working in Canada, he saw an opportunity to start his own logistics business. He could see that China was on the path to industrialization and becoming a superpower in the world. With Hong Kong slated to return to China in 1997, he predicted that China would start opening up to global trade at exponential levels. With his connections in Asia, he could be one of the first businesses to handle the logistics for the growing trade between China and the world.

Canaan Group founder Paul Lo

To establish the company’s reputation, my father’s strategy was to focus on providing exceptional customer service. Coming from Hong Kong, he was used to excellence in both service and efficiency that wasn’t very common in Canadian businesses in the 1980s. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of competition or innovation in the transportation industry, so he leveraged his ability to provide quality service to his advantage. I distinctly remember accompanying my father on a 5-hour trip drive to Seattle in the middle of a snowstorm to deliver a set of documents to one of his customers. That’s how committed to customer service my father was, and he became known for it.

Paul also cared for his employees. Our business was located in the middle of an industrial area with almost no delis or restaurant close by, so he started providing free lunches for his staff so they could share a meal together every day. This is a proud tradition we’ve kept at Canaan Group all these 40 years.

My brother and I grew up spending many afternoons in high school doing homework at the office.  As we got older, we started helping out around the office, doing simple clerical work, as a laborer and janitor. Eventually, we grew into our current roles.

Paul Lo (right) with a film crew at Canaan Group’s first warehouse at 275 West 1st Ave

Unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1994.  He never stopped working even as he underwent chemotherapy and surgery.  He worked until he passed away in 2002. We grew up watching my father devote his life to building the business, and a lot of what we’ve learned about running a business we absorbed by watching him live by example. We’re grateful for the way he lived, serving customers and staff. His values have lived on through my brother and I, as we continue leading Canaan Group.

Thank you to all our customers, industry partners, and staff over all these 40 years. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with you in providing logistics solutions around the world.

With gratitude,
Patrick Lo, President & CEO
Perry Lo, Managing Director