Josiane-Melanie Langlois bursts with enthusiasm for her job as vice president of legal affairs at TransForce, a company that scored more than $2.7 billion in revenue in 2011. As a North American leader in the transportation and logistics industry, TransForce operates across Canada and the United States, managing a growing network of wholly owned and operated subsidiaries that benefit from TransForce’s financial and operational resources.
Québec’s civil law offers law students the choice of becoming lawyers, who attend cases in court, or notaries, who practice in the areas of traditional business contracts. Langlois selected the path of notarial law and has never looked back. She and her team of four at TransForce have overseen a steady stream of acquisitions over the past 11 years—an astonishing average of almost a deal per month for more than a decade.
Advantage: What makes you different from lawyers?
Josiane-Melanie Langlois: At law school, most of my peers were “fighters”—they were interested in more adversarial situations. At that time, I didn’t want to spend my time fighting; I had no plans to go to court, hence I chose to master in notarial law. Today, I have evolved in being a fighter in a different way.
What is TransForce’s key competitive differentiator?
TransForce is a growth-oriented company. We have more than tripled in size since I began here. It has been our plan to continue growing; it is a successful formula, and it works. We see no reason to change it. We keep the management and the basic structure of the [acquired] company. Our subsidiaries benefit from the volume of savings we are able to offer them, and we support them with services, including legal, that help them succeed.
One hundred acquisitions in 11 years—does the work get repetitive?
Never! The wide variety of projects I manage is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. Month to month in this job, I touch on virtually every aspect a career in law might call for: corporate law, financial law, disclosure agreements, investor questions … it is never boring. Every day is different. The challenges that arise on large projects keep us busy and interested.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Limitations on the time my team and I have to digest new challenges and suggest solutions. I wish there were 48 hours in every day. It is so important to delve into the detail of each project—often that is where the most creative solutions can be found—but time is simply so limited. No matter how hard you are working, you still need time to think, and time to think can be the hardest resource to come by.
You need to always be asking why. One person cannot possibly know everything, which is why you must constantly be going to the experts on the ground and in the field for information. Getting down to this level of detail is often how we find the most creative solutions. I feel most proud when I am able to find a solution that serves everyone well, and makes it fair.
What is next for TransForce?
Two years ago, we announced that we would be expanding into the United States, and that has brought with it a whole new set of opportunities and challenges. We are still looking at new acquisition opportunities.