Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Christmas Get-Together

Last Saturday my wife Sandy and I hosted our staff at our home. At Costless Express we have our main Christmas Party in February once all the holiday hub bub dies down. So this was a chance for staff and families to gather and meet in a informal setting. It was great to have a chance to reconnect with what I call "our support group".

You see, the families of our staff are just as important to our continued success as our staff themselves. They too make sacrifices - like when our designer Erin pulled a 20 hour all nighter to meet our 2008 catalogue deadline -there was Dave to support her, make her a bath and whip up some breakfast. Or Darrin our controller when he travels for business - there's his wife Sharon to step in and care for both of their children 24/7. Or Alecia who stepped into cover a co worker on the night shift for two weeks. She works days and I know that is a tough transition for her and her family. RESPECT to all!!

We run 24 hours a day, so several of our staff are working untraditional hours and don't get the time to spend with their families as much as they might like. A BIG THANK YOU to all our staff and their families. You are all the best!

Our staff open house was a huge success with over 50 staff and families visiting and of course......eating!

Everyone is looking forward to our "Adult" Party in February. We have had some legendary ones in the past and I know this year will be no exception.

I must send a special thanks to Sandy and my boys for their support. I couldn't ask for a more supporting and loving family.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Saint Nick Visits Sport BC

Saint Nick presents the cheque!Last night was the annual Christmas gathering for Sport BC, the amateur sports association in British Columbia. KidSport is the charitable arm of Sport BC and a charity Costless Express has supported for years.

Last night I stopped in to present a donation from Costless Express to KidSport and was able to personally pass off our cheque to good old Saint Nick himself! The money donated will be used to assist underprivileged children play sports. All kids deserve a chance to play sports regardless of their economic situation, and KidSport assists with paying dues, travel costs and equipment.

Assisting children in making sports accessible is very near and dear to my heart. As a child in a single parent home, we didn’t have much money growing up. I played goal in Port Moody hockey for 8 years because the equipment was supplied at no cost for goalies. Being able to play hockey was paramount in my development as a child. I learned discipline, teamwork, competitiveness and how to lose gracefully and still feel good about myself. I loved Hockey! They are still some of my best memories as a child.

Sports are as important as academics in my opinion during a child’s early school years. It gives a sense of belonging and pushes children to build character that will define them in their future. Sports also keep children too busy to get into trouble. “Idle hands are the work of the Devil,” my mother says.

Great work Sport BC and KidSport!
From all of us at Costless Express, Happy Holidays and a wonderful 2008.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

United Nations International Volunteer Day

Today is United Nations International Volunteer Day. I received a lovely email from my good friends at BC Children’s Hospital thanking me for the support over the past year.

Jeans Day 2007 buttonFor 2008 I have been invited to join the Children’s Hospital Wholesale and Retail Council. Last year this group was responsible for organizing and raising $3.1 million and includes notable companies such as Costco, Overwaitea Food Group and Sleep Country Canada. The council’s goal is to work with the wholesale and retail community in BC and help companies organize fund raising initiatives that will support BCCH.

It is quite an honor to contribute my time to such a great organization and to work with some fantastic people. A few weeks ago I attended the first meeting and was happy to see the group of 9 people was quite informal. We all met early in the morning at the Sleep Country Store at Metrotown and held the meeting sitting on the edge of some very comfortable mattresses. The 2-hour meeting was fast paced and the talent in the room was incredible, this group knows how to get thing done quickly and efficiently. This year our council is looking to launch a new signature event. Keep an eye out and we will launch something soon. It’ll be Great!

Again this year Costless Express will also be involved in JEANS DAY, contributing the snacks and beverages for the kick off BBQ’s downtown and at the hospital on April 24th, 2008. Last year, we had over 2000 attendees in the rain dancing to Nearly Neil while he sung Forever In Blue Jeans. Have a look at my April 26, 2007 Calvin’s Corner entry. Please click on the Jeans Day link and get involved with your company if you are not already, it’s a great event and we raised just over $1 million dollars.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Measuring Up To Carbon Neutrality

Meeting Peter Frost last week really has me excited to become Carbon Neutral. I announced our intentions to our staff Monday and there were resounding cheers of approval.

Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time learning about CO2 emissions, Global Warming, Carbon Footprints and how Costless Express can become a Carbon Neutral company.

The CarbonNeutral CompanyYesterday I connected with THE CARBON NEUTRAL COMPANY in London. The call didn’t start out as smoothly as I was expecting. They immediately interviewed me for about 20 minutes to gauge our commitment level. There are only about 1000 companies currently that are Carbon Neutral Certified and can adhere to the strict yearly guidelines.

Gladly, Costless Express was already doing a lot of the right things, and our value proposition to our customers of single sourcing was quite interesting to them. “If your customer can have all their supplies delivered with just one order, that really saves on the amount of trucks on the road and the emissions they would produce. We like that.” was their response.

To move forward, we will need to submit a full assessment and detailed report of our Green House Gas Emissions. I will need to hire an independent science partner to advise and measure Costless Express’ yearly carbon output. There are only about 3 companies in the world authorized to do this report. They will advise us of our emissions, create emissions reduction programs and submit their report to The Carbon Neutral Company for consideration of becoming Certified Carbon Neutral. There are some significant costs and time commitments at this stage. No turning back now!

I’ll be keeping everyone updated to the progress.

Please visit to learn about our environment and how everyone can make a difference – we only have one planet, lets take care of it.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Costless Express is Going Carbon Neutral!

Last week I was in Toronto on business and met a very interesting person named Peter Frost. He was a guest speaker at the conference I was attending and is world renowned for his forward thinking on educating businesses about social responsibility and the environment.

Since I could not stay for his presentation the next morning I invited him to dinner with my controller Darrin and another business owner. We were all very interested to hear what he had to say and we weren’t disappointed. Peter spent over four hours discussing how our company can make a difference in the global environment by managing our Carbon Footprint and offsetting our CO2 emissions. Peter was amazing and his ideas have given Costless Express an exciting direction for the future.

Carbon FootprintI have always managed Costless Express with environmental sensitivity. We use plastic totes instead of boxes, recycle, 50% of our staff take public transit, we use and sell recycled products and on and on. What I found out is that there is so much more we could be doing to reduce our company’s impact on the environment. Peter was excited about our single source concept where we can offer our customers ALL their supplies in one delivery. You see, our truck can deliver what it could take ten other suppliers to deliver and this reduces the carbon footprint of that customers order, causes less traffic congestion and less emission. Our customers need only order from us and we are helping the environment. That was nice to hear from him but he suggested we really push ourselves as a company and strive for the top company ranking of being a CARBON NEUTRAL COMPANY.

I made a commitment at the dinner table that Costless Express will become a Carbon Neutral Company by April 22, 2008 – Earth Day.

Now it’s time to see what I’m in for!


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Our New Items For 2008!

This is my favorite time of year at Costless Express. Our 2008 Catalogue is completed and off to the presses. Now, it's time to bring in all the new and exciting items for our catalogue launch!

Just last week, we had our coffee and tea shipments arrive. It was Christmas a bit early for me as I went to the warehouse to see the shipments arrive. It was satisfying to see the product cycle complete. From finding a supplier, negotiating prices, adding the products to the catalogue and receiving our first shipment—all that's left to do is ship the new items out to customers.

I know our customers will enjoy our new 2008 Catalogue. We listened to our customers' feedback and added some exciting new items and categories, such as:

  • More healthy snack choices Healthy Choices icon
  • More environmentally friendly items Eco icon
  • More Buy More & Save pricing Buy More & Save
  • Focus pages on your favorite items like Starbucks, Tazo, Stash and more
  • Free hand soap and Purell dispensers
  • Health and Wellness program
  • Over 4500 new items

I'm excited to show all our customers our new catalogue and products. Keep an eye on our website: we'll add new items online before the catalogues arrive!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Our War Room

2008 CatalogueQ: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time!

Recently, we completed our 2008 Catalogue. With over 1100 pages of products, it really is a massive project. Our catalogue is now off to be printed, and we hope to see the finished product in December.

I'm sure everyone has been involved in large projects with deadlines. How do you stay organized? At Costless, we have our "War Room," and we plaster the walls with whiteboards and calendars. We are a visual group, and we like to see and feel the project.

The best part about our War Room is that it's where all our new product samples are kept and photographed. Once a new product is shot, we sample the product. Hey, someone's got to do it!

A large project can be so overwhelming when looked at in its entirety, but when a broken down into mini projects, it seems manageable. My advice to our marketing team has always been "One bite at a time!"


Monday, October 1, 2007

Spread the Word, Not the Germs!

Flu season is fast approaching, and if your business is anything like ours, when one prson gets sick, we all feel it in one way or another.

This year at Costless Express, we partnered with Purell to combat absenteeism in our workplace with our first Health and Wellness Committee. Our goal is to combat germs in the workplace and reduce the spread of viruses that cause the staff to get sick.

PurellIf you have not heard of Purell, it's an instant, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that kills 99.9% of the most common germs that may make you sick, without the need for soap or water. It's an easy way to keep your hands clean and fight the spread of germs without having to leave your desk!

Recently we were asked by one of our customers to assist them in launching a Wellness Program in their 300 seat call centre. We gladly launched a program that included wall dispensers, desk dispensers, phone wipes and posters—all for free. We even brought along a cake with the wording "Spread the Word, Not the Germs" to help kick off the campaign. Thanks to our Call Centre lead Kathie Jenson for the nifty words and setting up the program!

Comprehensive studies on workplace wellness and cleanliness have shown dramatic results in the lowering of company absenteeism due to illness. Read and learn more about how FedEx lowered their numbers by 25%!

If your company would like some help in setting up a Workplace Wellness program for your staff, please give your fantastic account rep a call!


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Snacks For Schools

2007-2008 Concession CatalogueLike some of you, we here at Costless Express have children heading back to school. For us, it's about 100,000 children, give or take a few!

You see, our company has been delivering snacks, candy and beverages to over 150 schools in BC for the past three years. We fell into this business quite by accident when we were approached by a soon-to-be-bankrupt candy company, and overnight we started supplying schools. It is an interesting side story that maybe I'll tell next time, but for now, I wanted to stand up on my soap box and have a bit of a rant about the current government legislation to ban all "unhealthy foods" in schools.

Here we go.

I agree, children are eating far too much junk food and live a very sedentary lifestyle. Congratulations to Gordon Campbell this week for implementing mandatory physical fitness in schools for all children. Hey, it's a start. Also you can now write off your child's sports dues. I only wish they allowed the sports gear to be written off also. Okay, okay, you came to read me ranting and raving.

I'm sure you have heard about the government imposed legislation that will commence starting this year. No candy, kick out the vending machines, NO MORE JUNK FOOD IN SCHOOLS hooray!

What you haven't heard are studies showing 1 in 4 students who leave school grounds at lunch never return. Where are they going? To the corner store, McDonalds, the mall?

Take a look at a school that has already banned all "unhealthy" food and drink, and what you'll see are swarms of kids jaywalking across busy 4 lane highways to the nearest 7-11. Once the kids reach their destination, there is a line up out the door, and usually a security guard or some kind of policy about how many kids are allowed in the store at one time. You see, kids will be kids, and if they want to eat junk food, they'll find it! Costless Express also supplies schools with healthy choices, such as granola bars and even fresh fruit, but it just sits on the shelf and no student will buy it. Not when Mickie Dees and Timmy Hos are just a walk away from most senior high schools. Coincidence?

The question is safety and absenteeism? How long before a kid gets run over sprinting across the street for a bag of chips? How many kids wait so long in the store line-up that they miss class? I want my kids to be safe at school, learn, and come home in one piece. If they eat a chocolate bar or god forbid - get fat, as a parent, that is my responsibility. Why should the school be responsible for my child's diet? Dont let me off the hook so easy! As a parent of two young boys, it's my job to see they get exercise, teach them self control, moderation and pride in their appearance.

Ohhh now you got me going! I'll cut it off here and pick this up next time.

"Junk food" sales in schools directly generated revenue for sports activities- ironic, isn't it.

Calvin Johnson

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Driver Appreciation Day

Drivers Appreciation BBQAs a customer of Costless Express, you cant help but meet our Fantastic Drivers. Today we held an Appreciation BBQ for the 6 hard working people who drive trucks for Costless Express.

Our drivers start their day at 6:30am and load their truck with all their orders (our night shift has just finished picking at 6am). After loading everything from pallets of water to custom birthday cakes, they're off to battle morning traffic. Some customers arrive at work and our drivers are in the parking lot waiting to drop their first orders of milk and coffee for the day. Some customers we have rely on us to deliver coffee supplies every day and we don't want to disappoint a large company with hundreds of employees - never mess with the morning coffee!!

Our drivers cover an assigned territory and get to know their customers by first name and our customers get to know them. During the BBQ the drivers shared stories about covering each others territory during holidays and how customers really missed their regular driver. You see, our drivers get to know exactly where to put the order, when to arrive, who to talk to and how to deal with any building security and protocol. They even wash coffee pots and make coffee! So when another driver covers a territory there is a tall order to fill. In the end our customers enjoy all our delivery drivers but there is always a bond with the regular driver.

During the BBQ our inside staff was able to thank the drivers for all the great work they do. We handed out some great folding chairs and umbrellas to each driver as a gift and ate and ate and ate. The highlight for me was singling out our driver Terry. He has been with me for 14 years! We aimed to guess the amount of deliveries he has done over the years and calculated at an average of 45 per day that would be an amazing 163,800 deliveries!

Great job Terry and all the drivers. You are the face of our company and we couldn't do it without you.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Planning Our New 2008 Catalogue!

Some sample products in consideration for our next catalogue.

It may seem like 2008 catalogues are forever away, but here at Costless Express we're in full catalogue mode.

This time each year, our purchasing and marketing departments select all the new products for the catalogue and meet with over 115 different suppliers. The best part of the process is testing all the samples our suppliers send us!

Some of my favorites so far are the sliced apples and caramel dip, a frozen Tomy Roma rib sandwich and Izze pop. On my "No Way!" list would be Insane Chips that were so hot they were... insane!

Our goal in product selection for our catalogue is to offer customers new choices plus all the favorites. But most of all, each item must be at a great price.

I know our 2008 catalogue will be our best yet — I hope you do too.


Monday, July 30, 2007

New Costless Trucks!

Costless Express delivery truckIf you have been stuck in traffic and look at an 8 foot Coke can on the side of a truck, you're sitting next to one of our Costless Express trucks.

Recently we added 2 new trucks to our growing fleet, and had fresh decals placed on the truck boxes. We are very proud of our trucks and hope you'll enjoiy seeing us roll up to your business with your next order.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Free Samples!

Calvin and Kingstone with some free samplesEveryone (myself included!) enjoys a little something for free every now and then.

Today, I was on one of my regular warehouse walkthroughs with Kingstone, our warehouse lead, and stopped to admire our "Free Samples" area.

If you are not familiar with our free samples, then you are in for a treat! On our Costless Express site, we offer our Next Day Delivery customers a selection of free samples that they can add to any web order.

Add a few samples on your next order, and enjoy!

I ran a report of how many free samples we have given away since we started the website in 2001. To date, we have given away over 250,000 samples!


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer Reading

Mastering The Rockefeller HabitsI hope all of you are enjoying the summer, and get a chance to take some holiday time off.
For me, I just came back from a long deserved 2 weeks off, and as an avid reader, I enjoyed reading business books on this holiday.
I wanted to tell you all about a great book called Mastering The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. Verne is the founder of YEO (Young Entrepreneurs Organization), a group I have been a part of for many years.
I suggest all leaders of businesses read the Rockefeller Habits. It truly is one book that will transform Costless Express, and possibly your business too. The principles are simple, yet so powerful.
Calvin Johnson

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Staying Cool!

Summer in Vancouver

The hot weather is coming soon. I know it doesn't look like it now with the way the weather has been this June, but we at Costless Express are an optimistic bunch.

Our new walk-in cooler!

In anticipation of a Hot and Sunny Summer, we have upgraded our warehouse refrigeration to a new 10’ x 25’ walk in cooler to house all the delicious milk and creamo products our customers love to order.

Milk products are one of the most popular items we sell here and for good reason; our prices and delivery times are superior to the traditional coffee companies our customers used to order milk from. Now with Costless ToGo, our customers can get milk delivered the very same day!

Stay cool Vancouver!

Calvin Johnson

Monday, June 4, 2007

Miracle Weekend 2007

Calvin works the phones for Miracle WeekendThis weekend is the BC Children’s Hospital Miracle Weekend.

On the Saturday night I joined some of Vancouver’s business leaders as part of the “Miracle Makers” panel at the BCTV Studios. Our goal was to call friends, family and associates over a very brief 1 hour period to raise money for the Hospital.

With my trusty Black Berry in hand, I was able to locate some very generous people who gladly helped support me. I was able to raise $4000 for the hospital. Thanks So Much to all the people who donated. The Kids appreciate it!

BC Children’s Hospital Foundation raised $14,688,536 for BC Children’s Hospital during the 20th annual Miracle Weekend, hosted by Global TV on June 2-3, surpassing its fundraising goal. Miracle Weekend events have raised approximately $120 million for the hospital since the first Miracle Weekend was held in 1988. That year, Miracle Weekend raised $1.6 million.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Raising Funds For Children's Hospital!

Our Every Spin Is A Win sign!Giving back to the community has always been important to Costless Express. The BC Children's Hospital is one charity our staff supports and it's easy to see why. Most of our staff has children, Sandy and I included. Our two boys (Alex, 1, and Aidan, 4) are blessed with good health, but having such a world class hospital as BC Children's puts us at ease.

Today, myself and our staff took over a corner of the Vancouver Art Gallery lawn and held a fund raiser for BC Children's Hospital.

It was a little windy during set-up... Hang on Darrin!We set up a tent and gave away everything from chips and chocolate bars to printers and microwaves. Our theme was to spin a prize wheel once you made a donation. "Every Spin's a Win!"

Our first spin was a fellow from Seattle and he donated $20, spun the wheel and won a cordless phone set!

The day was hot and sunny and our staff felt like they were on an episode of "The Apprentice." At times we stood on the sidewalk and sold chocolate bars to people in cars and passers-by. Our "squeaky" bicycle horns we all carried really caught people's attention.

Costless staff raising money for Children's HospitalIt turned out to be great fun for our staff and our overall fundraising exceeded $4000. Thanks to everyone for the support and donations.


Calvin Johnson

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our New Vans!

Getting hungry?If there is one passion in business I have, it's marketing. Today our vans arrived, and how can you miss them. The giant pictures turned out great and really tell the story of our new Costless ToGo Service. If you were in traffic behind our van, wouldn't you start getting hungry?

I had a funny story about one of our warehouse staff this morning as he drove one of the vans from the sign shop to downtown.

Check out that giant Coke can!I called him on his cell phone and asked, "How does the van look?" I was so excited to see the results later in the day.

Well, his answer was less than enthusiastic, with a somber, "I guess it's OK."

I started getting concerned and asked "Does it look OK? What's wrong?"

He replied "No, the van looks cool, it's just that everyone is staring at me."

Ahh.. I love marketing. Look for our vans downtown, and stare all you want.



Special thanks to Randy at Andsigns - top quality work again! 11 trucks and counting.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Lights, Camera, Action!

Safety First!

That's the feeling we had when we raised our sign inside the downtown Costco for the first time today. It's Showtime!

It was almost 2 years ago today to the day since we first discussed plans to offer same day delivery to businesses downtown. I must admit that it was more work than we anticipated - but the finished product is incredible! Same Day delivery has been unheard of in our industry. So I know we will be making some unhappy competitors.

Are you sure it's straight?The real pleasure is seeing the customers' reactions as we made some deliveries today — they just couldn't believe their order arrived in 2 hours. One customer said "I really didn't need anything — I just wanted to see if you could get here that quick."

Well — here we are!

Calvin Johnson

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today is Jeans Day!

Jeans Day 2007 button Today is Jeans Day! One day each year, we ask British Columbians to wear their hearts on their jeans. Costless Express has been a long time supporter of Children's Hospital and Jeans Day.

Jeans Day 2007 BBQToday is extra special for us since we were given the opportunity to donate all the pop, water, chips and chocolate bars for the Jeans Day BBQs held at two of the hospitals and downtown. When I heard from a great business associate, Mike Matwin, that the Jeans Day committee needed a sponsor, I jumped at the chance.

For over 10 years, Mike Matwin from K&H Couriers has tirelessly supported the event as the chairman. At the downtown BBQ, it was a rainy day but Mike did a great job as MC, introducing Neil Diamond impersonator "Nearly Neil" for the kick-off song, Forever in Blue Jeans.Nearly Neil!

The day was a huge success; we sold thousands of hot dogs and buttons.

Thanks to all the businesses that came down and supported Jeans Day. The children thank you!

Calvin Johnson