The online news magazine of Atlas® World Group.
June 14, 2018

A Tree Grows in Toronto

  • Atlas Canada
  • Household Moving


Using a Balanced Scorecard, Atlas® Van Lines Canada pays attention in equal measure to four strategicimperatives: people, customers, financial measures, and internal business processes. To keep the indicators top of mind, placards display the goals for all to see. Managers report and review their progress in weekly meetings. Regular town hall gatherings bring all employees together for updates.  Everyone in the organization is accountable for, and a beneficiary of, the organization’s success.

Change Brings Good Fruit

Imagine an orchard. The trees look strong. All appears well until a storm sets in. Then a drought ensues. The harvest is decimated; workers are sent home.

Such were the conditions Atlas® Van Lines Canada faced three years ago. A sudden loss of the company’s biggest client wrecked market share. Employee ranks were trimmed and new leadership brought in. The first order of business: to create a roadmap for revitalization.

“We implemented a management system known as the Balanced Scorecard,” says Barry Schellenberg, President, Atlas® Van Lines Canada. “It brings the best from each person to the achievement of strategic goals. You might call it a ‘discipline for driving change.’” Developed by management gurus Kaplan and Norton, the system is well known in business circles and has helped organizations in many different industries.

“Our first year, 2015, was devoted mainly to developing the road map and planting seeds for success,” says Barry. “Early on, we saw that our sales competency needed a critical focus.”

An investment in training for sales staff and agency representatives took the company from “order taking” to “order making.” It’s paying off. The conversion rate for incoming sales leads has tripled over the last two years. This new vigor is complemented by a focus on the service experience for customers.   

“Operational excellence is critical for sales,” says Barry. “We had to remove some poor performing entities from our system. Customers have responded favorably, rewarding us with improved survey scores and additional business.”

The push for operational excellence is ongoing. The company is midway through a transition to the Windows-based business systems (AtlasNet®) shared by other Atlas® World Group companies. The changeover is scheduled for completion in 2019.  

Pipeline of Opportunities

To prevent the kind of exposure that hurt the company in 2014, a diversification strategy is bringing new opportunities to the network. The acquisition of Connect Logistics in 2017 complements and expands the company’s service offerings. At the same time, the market is sensing the transformation Atlas has undergone, attracting forward-thinking carriers. “We have a strong pipeline of potential new entities, filled with good prospects for agency affiliation as well as for attribution", says Barry.

“During 2016, you might say we watered and tended the shoots. In 2017, we began harvesting the fruit of our efforts.”

Barry Schellenberg, President, Atlas® Van Lines Canada

Atlas Canada’s strategic roadmap is paying off. Last year, the company grew in corporate and private client household goods moves despite a five percent market contraction.

“Our strategy has meant a cultural transformation for us, challenging but also exciting,” says Fred Haladay, Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Atlas Van Lines Canada. “I’ve been with the company 28 years, and it’s refreshing to see the new life in this organization. Everyone likes to be associated with a winner.”

“We expect continuing good growth in 2018, but we’re not taking success for granted,” says Barry. “We’re staying focused on what’s important—and keeping it important.” He adds: “The sparkle had gone from our people’s eyes, but now it’s back. That’s especially rewarding to me.”