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KRTS’s Matt Richardson takes the trucking industry to school

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KRTS’s Matt Richardson takes the trucking industry to school

When it comes to comprehensive educational offerings for the trucking and construction industries, Kim Richardson Transportation Specialists, Inc. — better known simply as KRTS — stands out as a leader. The Caledonia, Ontario, Canada-based training company serves a client network of more than 400 companies and offers a dazzling array of training curriculum, technology, and equipment.

In fact, the firm’s reputation has brought in clients from not only North America, but also Australia, the Bahamas, and more.

Spend some time around Matt Richardson, KRTS’s vice president, and you’ll quickly understand what has made the firm so successful and what will keep it a major player for years to come — the bonds of family, the benefits of hard work, and an eye on what’s next.

“My parents, Kim and Lisa, started the company in 1989 out of their house, with Kim as the trainer and the education provider and Lisa doing all of the office duties basically from a bedside table,” Richardson said. “They basically had one corporate customer, and that’s what paid the bills for the first little while along with some of the student training.

“Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, you didn’t have to worry about being a registered private vocational school,” he continued. “They evolved into that over the years, as well as (developing) the corporate side of our business, which is what we’re really known for — growing and expanding into what it is today.”

Richardson chuckles over the fact he joined his parents’ venture at age 4, helping wash trucks that were used for driver education. It was a gig that would extend over the next decade to include other “child-of-entrepreneur” responsibilities such as cutting the grass and handling odd jobs.

By the time he enrolled in University of Guelph to play football, the seed had been planted in Richardson’s heart to return home, armed with an education, and help KRTS grow.

“I always had a keen interest in listening to Mom and Dad discuss business, but it probably wasn’t until high school and into university that I got to meet some of the people they were doing business with. That really brought out that passion in me,” he said. “This industry is full of so many amazing people. I got a glimpse of that at an early age.”

During his college years, Richardson worked to learn his parents’ business from the ground up.

“Every year while I was away at school, I was put into a different aspect of the business each summer,” he recalled. “One summer I was in scheduling, the next summer I was in customer service, and the next summer I shadowed different managers. While doing that, I was participating in different training and educational programs that we offer.

“While I was working during my summers off, I started to understand business more through my education, seeing where some of the opportunities were for KRTS and how I could help drive it forward,” he continued.

After graduating from college, Richardson actually passed up an opportunity to play football in Europe. Instead, he returned home and continued his daily education into the workings of the company. Eventually, he began introducing changes to help KRTS reach a wider audience both in serving individual students and providing education to corporate clients.

“On the corporate side, a lot of what I’ve done is expand the number of services we provide and how we are able to customize and package our services together for our customers,” he said.

“On the student side, I was heavily involved with expanding the number of programs that we have registered and offered to the general public,” he continued. “When I came on board, I think we had three, maybe four registered programs. We’re now in the seven- to eight-program range.”

Matt Richardson Family
Matt Richardson, vice president of Kim Richardson Transportation Specialists, Inc., says the company is based on “good old-fashioned family values. He is shown here with his own family.

Richardson, who became vice president of the company in 2021, has also played a major role in incorporating technology into KRTS’ educational programs.

“In the past couple of years, we’ve delved heavily into simulation training,” he said. “That was an initiative and a business plan that I had put together for KRTS — for us to get full-motion truck simulators to our facility. This allows us to train and educate our customers, as well as become a reseller of those simulators on the training rep side of our business.”

At same time, Richardson is quick to point out that technology only goes so far in the company’s specific brand of educational programming.

“On the theory side of training, we are able to service some of our customers more easily now when it comes to virtual classes,” he said. “Prior to COVID, that really wasn’t a thing, but once COVID hit we adjusted with the times and introduced virtual classes, which opened up some opportunities.

“With the full-motion simulators, we can train people, and they’re comfortable because they know they can’t cause any real damage,” he said. “However, one thing that won’t ever change is the hands-on, behind-the-wheel, or in-the-cab stuff. When it comes to the actual operation of trucks or heavy equipment. That’s a type of training you can’t teach through an iPad.”

Richardson points out that the same can be said of the company’s brand of customer service. Technology might make a salesperson or customer representative appear more productive on paper, but personal relationships are what build customer loyalty for life. KRTS’ reputation for expertise and white-glove service is one of the things that’s led to partnerships with trucking companies to handle curriculum and instruction for the carriers’ internal driver’s education programs.

“What we’ve been doing lately, and what I see us continuing, is carrier-based school partnerships,” Richardson said. “We have partnerships with two carriers here in Ontario, Challenger Motor Freight and Zavcor, which have good finishing programs in place. They’re offering that entry-level training, which helps them get high-quality drivers in their fleets but also provides a service for the general public.”

Richardson hasn’t stopped there.

“We’ve also partnered with a number of insurance companies that are in transportation and construction, which provides a great opportunity for their insureds to participate, get quality education and training with programs that are recognized by insurance,” he said. “Our insurance industry partnerships are huge for us.”

But always, at the heart of the company, he says, are good old-fashioned family values.

Photos courtesy of Matt Richardson.

 

Dwain Hebda

Dwain Hebda is a freelance journalist, author, editor and storyteller in Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to The Trucker, his work appears in more than 35 publications across multiple states each year. Hebda’s writing has been awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists and a Finalist in Best Of Arkansas rankings by AY Magazine. He is president of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths, which provides editorial services to publications and companies.

Avatar for Dwain Hebda
Dwain Hebda is a freelance journalist, author, editor and storyteller in Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to The Trucker, his work appears in more than 35 publications across multiple states each year. Hebda’s writing has been awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists and a Finalist in Best Of Arkansas rankings by AY Magazine. He is president of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths, which provides editorial services to publications and companies.
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