Let’s suppose you’re a human being with feelings and this last year has been tough on you emotionally. Perhaps you’ve felt an absence of joy and escapism — you’ve missed doing things just for sheer pleasure.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking, “What I need is a really fun car in my life.”
Perhaps you’re looking for a collector car.
But the merit of a collector car is that they’re rare and that means you’ll probably have to look far outside your local area to snag your dream car.
And once you use the miracle of modern technology to buy your classic car you’re going to need to have it transported to you… with a scratch.
That’s the business that TFX International, the official Canadian shipping provider to the Barrett-Jackson auction is in.
And while TFX transports some of the most prestigious and valuable collector cars from auctions in the U.S., they also help everyday Canadians transport their vehicles from the United States to Canada.
“Online auctions took off quite a bit this year,” said Adam Horodnyk, vice-president of sales and marketing. “One hundred percent there was more demand — and we’ve been able to service those customers shipping over the border who purchased cars at online auctions.”
TFX International began in the 1980s, when Adam’s father, Wally, capitalized on loopholes surrounding vehicle transportation pre-deregulation. The loopholes presented a compelling side hustle for freight brokers at the time.
“After deregulation, you just no longer needed to get a licence to get into the trucking industry,” said Adam. “In the 1980s, the freight brokers would go around the regulations. So we operated in a bit of a grey area.”
Adam compares TFX’s roots to Uber: a disruptor in an established industry, not breaking any laws per say, but not quite strictly playing by the rules either.
Now however, TFX is a booming (albeit still family-owned and operated) business, with over 30 trucks supplying Canada with some of the world’s most exotic vehicles.
“If you ever wonder where the brand-new Ferraris at the dealership come from, we’re the ones who deliver them,” said Adam. “They arrive on a boat in Newark, N.J., and then they’re transported by us to the dealers. That's just one client of many, but Ferrari has been our client for 25 years now. “
Why does Ferrari — arguably the world’s most prestigious auto manufacturer, trust TFX?
Decades of experience and legacy aside, TFX utilizes a multitude of advanced equipment to ensure that their pristine cargo stays as such.
“We've pioneered quite a few things in regards to how we set up our trailers,” said Adam. “For instance, all of our floors inside of our trailers are independently hydraulic, which means that we can always load cars level. Most companies don't use that because they want to save money. It's about $30,000 to put that in your trailer. We put it in because we know it's unacceptable to damage any vehicle we’re transporting.”
Adam explained that these advanced trailer floors save the undercarriage from damage and give drivers the ability to load cars of varying sizes in unique combinations within the trailers.
“When you think about loading our trailers, it’s sort of like a game of Tetris. You might have a ‘68 Chevy Nova and a Rolls-Royce... and then two Miatas and a ‘55 Nomad. You have to position them in a trailer so that you can maximize the efficiency of your space.”
Of course, the equipment is only one part of the equation, TFX also seeks out highly skilled drivers capable of handling both the unique payload and the unique demands of the job.
“Our drivers are physically interacting with the clients,” said Adam. “They’re loading the trucks. They're driving your $300,000 car, your million-dollar car. We want to attract by far the best talent. If we don't like how they're working out, we will let them go.”
TFX is also pretty confident in their ability to transport vehicles without incident.
Two years ago, TFX had their driver begin to take detailed, high resolution photos of collector cars before transporting them to their new owners. Why?
Collector car enthusiasts who hadn’t seen their purchases in the metal before were often unaware of imperfections in their latest acquisition and of course, pointed fingers at the transport company. It’s an issue which Adam claims has become more or less non-existent since introducing the photographing policy.
As Adam put it, “I don't know if it's the most profitable business or the easiest business, but it's the only business I've ever known in my life. We’ve had a lot of experience doing this now and it’s put us at the forefront of the industry.”