Shawn Girard and Michael Cinquino are childhood friends, business partners, and the duo who founded ENERGY Transportation Group in 2007. Shawn as CEO runs the sales side of the business, and Michael as President handles more of the internal operations.
In honor of our 15-year anniversary, we wanted to share an interview with the ENERGY founders to discuss how the company got its start and their vision for the future.
How long have you two known each other and how did you meet?
I’ve known Michael since we were seven years old. Michael’s uncle lived beside me, and he would come over on the weekends and during the summer.
Then, when we were in grade four, Michael’s family moved much closer to where I was living, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Shawn, what was Michael like when he was younger?
Michael has always been the same person, except younger. We both come from close-knit, hardworking families, with similar backgrounds so he was always a good kid with strong values.
Michael, how would you describe Shawn in his younger years?
When it comes to morals, values, and upbringing, Shawn and I are similar. Our parents taught us the ethics and value of hard work and determination.
Shawn was certainly more mischievous than I was, occasionally getting into trouble, and I was more of the sensible one to balance us out.
But Shawn was always very funny. I remember laughing and joking around a lot growing up and it’s something we still do today.
Can you tell us how you got into the transportation industry?
I got my start in the transportation industry when I was 18 and studying at Dawson College with Michael. Michael was working for his father’s transport company at the time, and they needed someone to help with documentation.
I’ve been around trucks my whole life.
My father bought his first truck when he was 22 years old. Since 1982, we’ve been operating in the same truck yard as where ENERGY’s HQ is today.
I did consider careers outside of transport, but transport was always near and dear to my heart.
What was the inspiration that made you decide to start ENERGY Transportation Group back in 2007?
Having had almost 10 years of hands-on industry experience, we saw the opportunity. At the time, we were both working for another family business, but we felt ourselves outgrowing that company.
So, in 2007 — as late twentysomethings with no kids or responsibilities — we thought it was time to give it a shot and we founded ENERGY Transportation Group.
You’ve been in business together for 15 years, and you’ve known each other for even longer — what’s your secret for dealing with the inevitable conflict that comes from working together for so long?
It’s a relationship. And like any relationship you have with someone you care about; you do your best to recognize the other person’s position. We don’t always agree, but we listen and understand each other’s mindset. We try to appreciate what the other is looking to achieve. Then we talk it out, pros and cons, and we decide.
What helps is that our vision is mutual — where we want to go, where we see ourselves. It makes it easier to say, “will this help us further the goals we have for the organization?”
To add to that, there has been an immense amount of loyalty, trust, and respect built up over years between Michael and myself.
Looking back at these 15 years, is there anything you would have done differently with what you know now?
About 50 different things but hindsight is 20/20.
I think there are a lot of things we would have done differently, but I think there are a lot of things we did well. One thing I think we do well is our professional relationships. I think we do business the right way.
And for the mistakes that did make, we have been fortunate enough to learn from them.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own transportation company?
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You must have a vision for what you want to accomplish. And it can’t only be for the money — there needs to be passion. You can go out and work for someone else and make money. To open a business, you need to fully commit and continue setting goals and be completely determined until you achieve them.
We always wanted the autonomy of being entrepreneurs and knowing that the harder we work, the more it will pay off in the long term.
I’d like to add that anyone thinking about starting a business needs to understand the risk and be prepared to never shut off. It’s not a job, it’s a baby — it’s a part of your life.
What does the future look like for ENERGY?
The future is bright. We have always had amazing employees and I think the team is stronger now than ever before.
With such a talented group of people supporting the company, ENERGY will continue to grow and succeed together.
As Shawn said, the future of ENERGY is very bright. The sky is the limit.
With 15 years under our belt, we feel that we have put ourselves in an excellent position to make a difference in the industry and bring it into the 21st century.