Apr 1, 2010 12:00 PM
Jeff McCaig leads association through a tough recession
Jeff McCaig, chairman and chief executive officer of Trimac Transportation, took up the reins as chairman of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc during one of the most trying times faced by the association and the tank truck industry. McCaig met the challenge head-on.
The United States was mired in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployment was climbing toward 10%, and consumer spending plummeted like a rock. Deficit spending by the federal government was at historic levels. It was a tough year.
Retail stores were closing across the country, and industrial facilities were running at a fraction of normal capacity. Like other businesses, many tank truck carriers were hurting and were trimming operations just to survive. Even industry associations, like National Tank Truck Carriers, needed to do some belt-tightening. These were the issues McCaig faced when he took office as NTTC chairman in May 2009.
However, growing up in Canada's trucking industry provided McCaig with a solid foundation, and he has spent decades building Trimac Transportation into one of the leading tank truck carriers in North America. Many of those years were spent in western Canada, particularly Trimac's home base of Calgary, Alberta. From age 16, he had summer jobs in the Trimac dispatch office. He also worked in a truck manufacturing plant one summer.
After graduating from high school in 1969, McCaig attended Harvard for his undergraduate studies. That was followed by law school in Toronto. Following graduation in 1976, he moved back to Calgary and practiced law until 1980.
McCaig returned to the family company in 1983 when his father, J R Bud McCaig, became ill. By then, Trimac had grown into a diversified publicly-traded corporation. In addition to trucking, the company had interests in oil and gas drilling, vehicle leasing and maintenance, and waste management.
I went back to school for a year at Stanford University to get a business degree, he says. I joined Trimac full time in 1985 in Dallas and Midland (Texas) in Trimac's drilling division. I moved back to Calgary in 1987 and then to Houston in 2003.
McCaig became Trimac's president when his father retired in 1992, and he launched a de-diversification process for the company. I felt that the world had changed, and we needed to be a more focused company, he says. We sold the drilling division in 1997 and the vehicle leasing division in 1999. We made our largest trucking acquisition DSI Transports in 2000.
Why did McCaig focus on trucking? I felt that trucking was our core business, he says. We had been in it the longest, and I believed we had a sustainable competitive advantage. We could grow across North America, and create greater shareholder value.
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