By Jennifer Vardy Little
Focusing on service excellence and client needs has helped Shannex develop from its humble roots to the largest petroleum trucking company in Canada.
Jason Shannon, president and chief operating officer of Shannex, was the guest speaker Nov. 8 at the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. The year before, Shannex was one of the recipients of the chamber awards.
Shannon’s father started the company almost 50 years ago as a truck driver. His dad never finished Grade 10, but absolutely knew he wanted to be in business, Shannon said to the 350 businesspeople gathered at the Old Orchard Inn.
“He knew, to get there, he had to make something from nothing,” Shannon said.
Slowly, a second and third truck was added, as the Shannons built a fleet one truck at a time. However, said Shannon, his father also understood that he needed to know where the new markets would be and expand.
“It came from understanding how you can succeed in each of your markets before you move on to the next,” Shannon said.
The business has since diversified. In the past three years, the company opened nursing homes in Kentville and Blomidon, which now employ 150 people locally. What’s happening in this area is significant, he said, adding that strengthening the rural areas is necessary to maintain the culture and fabric of Nova Scotia and prevent the further “hollowing out” of rural Nova Scotia.
“Understanding what’s going on at Acadia and the work of the chamber, and looking, honestly, at the audience tonight, the work of the chamber is very symbolic of what we need to happen in Nova Scotia to ensure our rural communities remain strong and vibrant for the next generation.”
Shannon said he was impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit in the Valley.
“If you lived in Halifax and got up in the morning and read the Chronicle Herald, half the time you’d think the lights were off in the Valley and you’d never know what was going on,” he added. “But I can tell you that I’ve learned plenty is happening.”
He urged the audience members to focus on making their businesses the best in the market before moving on to conquer another market and committing to having guiding values.
“No matter what business we are, we share the same values. Putting our clients first is paramount, as all the entrepreneurs in the room will know, building trusted relationships with your employees and partners, never a day going by when you’re not improving quality and ensuring that you’re financially accountable in all that you do,” Shannon said.
For more on the awards, see the Nov. 13 Kings County Advertiser and www.kingscountynews.ca.