• Workplace Type: On-site

Our History

A future shaped by history

Cole International was born out of one man’s need for a solution. Our earliest founder, Horace W. Robinson, took it upon himself to learn and fill out his own customs paperwork in 1920s Canada, paving the way to solving not just his own problem, but meeting the needs of many to come.

Since day one, we’ve been listening. Whether it was Horace W. Robinson, John Herbert Cole McCubbin, or Don J. Lucky at the helm, we have listened and iterated to solve the problems of people who trusted us.

Years of experience

Fast forward to today, and Cole International is now a privately owned, full-service logistics provider, navigating commercial shipments swiftly and reliably, while our focus remains singular: simplifying and promoting the seamless movement of your company’s goods.

For well over half a century, Cole International has been continually sharpening and expanding our capabilities in:

Our highly trained and certified professionals are passionate about what they do and their experience and knowledge runs even deeper. In a fast-paced world with a truly global supply chain, our team has the autonomy to make swift and effective decisions every hour of the day.

When it comes to handling your freight and customs needs, we provide not just any solution, but the right solution. This is how the legacy of Cole International shapes our future.

Our Story

1920s Canada – The initiative of Horace W. Robinson

Decades after the Canadian-American Reciprocity policy was replaced by a system of tariffs, and before trucks were used to haul freight, Horace W. Robinson had a problem. 

Robinson, a lumber merchant, was trying to move timber from Canada into the U.S. Ongoing attempts to revive the reciprocity treaty were failing. Trade activities were limited. Robinson wanted to move lumber over the border, and was in need of someone to facilitate this.

With no skilled help available, he taught himself to do his own paperwork. He worked with the Dominion Chartered Customs-House Brokers Association to aid his education and was soon completing the necessary paperwork to move his timber.

At the same time, trade started to pick up between Canada and the U.S. No longer was the dominant trade between Canada and Great Britain. Soon people heard of this man moving timber from Thunder Bay and sought out his help to move their goods over the border. The first iteration of what would become Cole International was born. 

1970s – Evolving alongside the industry

By the late 1960s, the large network of highways being built across North America made trucking the most reliable way to move freight. But air freight was also having a moment. Small-parcel carrier companies started forming in the early 1970s, bringing with them the severance of passenger service from freight service. The rise in these small-parcel carriers would see a steady increase in technological advancements throughout the next two decades.

At the same time, the rapid rise in air travel as well as growing usage of shipping containers meant it wasn’t long before Lucky observed customers needing to move goods even longer distances. The company soon evolved to add international air and ocean freight forwarding to its services.

Through it all, Lucky continued to stay connected to his community while keeping his finger on the pulse of changes occurring throughout the logistics industry as a whole, from customs to freight. He was on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Customs Brokers, an executive at the Canadian International Freight Forwarders’ Association (CIFFA), and a long-standing member of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. 

Into the future

Today, Cole International is still a privately-owned and operated full-spectrum logistics services company that has grown continually since its inception under Horace W. Robinson nearly a century ago. Through customs brokerage, freight forwarding and trade consulting, we help thousands of companies move their goods around the world every day.

Whether your business needs help moving goods over the border, is facing challenges with Customs, or you want to empower yourself as an importer, we’ve got the experience you need.

In a modern, globalized world, we move your company from the solid foundation of our company’s history.