Football teams often refer to themselves as family so it was not an easy decision for Dana Matheson to walk away.
Matheson was an offensive lineman for the St. Mary’s University Huskies, a university in Halifax and he helped the team win the 2002 Vanier Cup as Canadian university champions.
But Matheson could see his family back home in Langley needed him as well.
Matheson already returned home every summer from university to work alongside his father, Bruce, who ran a sales office in Port Kells for a logistics company based back East.
It was July 2004 and father/son were sitting in the backyard of the family’s Walnut Grove home.
At that point, his dad was running the sales office by himself.
“I could see the struggles in the business and how hard it was for him,” Matheson recalled.
“I remember him sitting in the backyard saying ‘if the doors are still open by Labour Day, I will be shocked.’”
So Matheson — who still had a year of eligibility remaining — left university and football.
“(My dad) always wanted to do what was right for me, but I knew in my mind it was the right time to stop chasing a dream,” he said.
While Matheson had harboured dreams of one day playing professionally in the Canadian Football League, he had also always loved business.
“My love was never academics, it was football and I saw the bigger picture,” he explained.
“It was a pivotal point, a fork in the road where I had to help the sinking ship and get things going.”
For the next two years, father and son worked side by side for the company. But the company was not doing well financially nor did Matheson particularly care for how it operated either.
On a Friday afternoon in October 2006, they began contemplating opening up their own company.
“We realized there was so much stuff we could do better on our own,” Matheson said. “We needed to take a shot at this and go for it.”
The decision was made and on Monday morning, they began C&D Logistics. It is a shipping logistics company serving North America which provides a reliable way of moving freight.
They were the company’s only two employees at first, working out of a little office in Fort Langley.
“Once I had control, it was like the light switch turned on,” he said.
He began by cold calling anyone he knew in western Canada who might benefit from the company’s services.
In the beginning, Matheson was working 60 to 70 hours a week, but as business grew, he has been able to expand and now has a staff of 17 employees, who work out of an office building in Walnut Grove.
Last May, Matheson took his young family — wife Laurel, seven-year-old Colton and three-year-old Chloe — to Disneyland, the first family vacation Matheson says he has taken since 2008. And while he still pops into the office every day, he is down to a manageable 40 hours a week.
“When I started this business, it was how do I draw a meager salary, how do I eke out a living,” Matheson said.
“And as the years have gone by, we have grown consistently. Business is all about relationships, building strong relationships with your customers and when people sign up to do business with us, they typically don’t leave.
“The customers we have had since we started are still with us. They know when push comes to shove, all things being equal, we have got their back.”
He is still surprised at just how much the company has grown.
And Matheson also cares about his community as C&D Logistics donates a portion of their profits to a wide variety of causes.
“This is where I grew up, this is where I live and am raising my family, this is where I do business. Whatever I can do to help the community grow …. I am all for it.”
And last week, the 36-year-old Matheson was honoured as the recipient of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce’s U40 business person of the year award.
“It is a tremendous honour,” he said.
“(But) you don’t do things for recognition, you do it because it is the right thing to do.
“It is nice (that) people appreciate the things that you do.”