Are you still expanding into new areas?
We are currently set up in several regions and we “manage growth” in every region.
We are concentrating on growing in some new areas over the next few years where we feel contracting can be beneficial. This depends on getting state and local officials to embrace contracting as an alternative to in-house service and the fiscal challenges it contains. We are hoping to see some additional requests for bids come out over the next few years.
What would you say is the company’s greatest strength?
I know it might sound corny, but our strength is in the dedication and public trust we take ever so seriously. It is in the people who make up our family of companies. We all help each other and look out for each other. We have very few people leave once they get here. We also have a tremendous expertise in this business that I believe is second to none. On a personal note, my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I am extremely loyal and extremely accessible. I live this business every day.
And what is your top challenge?
Our top challenge today is to continue to take those 100 cultures I spoke about and develop industry best practices that become policy. We have so many talented people in STI, and we certainly welcome others. And while policy and best practices are crucial, the last thing I want myself or any senior management member to say to an employee is, “Here is your manual.”
We have set up company-wide “councils” of the best and brightest to collect the best ideas and practices. They develop the policy, not me. I’ve been in this business all my life, and I know quite a bit about every aspect of how it runs, but I do not know it all. What I don’t know, someone else here does. So I must listen and learn. Most people just aren’t used to this environment, but when they experience it, they love it.
What prompted the recent name change?
The name change is at the corporate level, and it was an easy decision. We operate in both the United States and Canada now, and it was clumsy to be called STA in Canada. We continue to operate as STA in the United States and as STC in Canada. What has not changed is that we also operate under many local names in communities all over North America where we acquired great operations from former companies who have served their communities well for generations. It’s a goodwill practice we highly value.
The Gallagher family has a long history in transportation. How did that start, and what is it about the industry that has kept the family dedicated to it?
Yes, there have been quite a few extended family members in transportation-related companies. It’s an old ethic thing I guess that immigrants came to the U.S. and developed a trade. My grandfather and his brothers were in the business since 1922. Since then, my father’s generation and their kids got involved. While we have the same last name, we are all separate and in different businesses. None of the businesses are related.
I believe that “dedication to service” was always important in the family. Hard work, service to others and staying close to your employees, their families and your customers is what has withstood the test of time.