What is the key to survival in trucking?

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“I don’t know that there is one, but I would say for us it is maintaining good customers. That’s what keeps us where we’re at. We’re selective of our customers. I believe everybody can be selective, but some don’t do enough research. If everybody were selective, maybe we could weed out the bad customers. The ones that aren’t selective are the ones that are in trouble. They don’t pay much attention to who they do business with.”
– Daryl Joy, president
Tom Joy & Son Inc., Peshtigo, Wis.

“It would be pretty tricky to find one solve-all, fix-all solution. I would say that just like any other well-built thing, whether it is a family or an organization, you have to start with a good foundation. Have good people and a good plan to begin with. If you have the right customers and people, and hopefully if you don’t make any major blunders, you will survive.”
– Jim Jennings, president
Four-Star Transport, Indianapolis

“Since I’m sitting here right now collecting past due freight bills, I’d have to say the key to survival is maintaining cash flow. Get the cash in the door and manage it.”
– Tom Fowlkes, CFO
Vortex Truck Lines Inc., Oakland, Miss.

“Know your costs and have dedicated people. Right now, we’re focusing on cost and also refining some of our processes and systems to better utilize the technology we have invested in.”
– John Pope, president
Cargo Transporters, Claremont, N.C.

“Good service. Sometimes you can get better rates for good service, but it’s really tough out there right now. I keep hoping to see a change soon. There’s lots of work, but it’s just not worth doing. I think offering good service is about all you can do.”
– Paul Yerk, president
Indian Valley Bulk Carrier Inc.,
Tylersport, Pa.

“I think the survivors are the ones who can articulate their position to their customers, hold their value and have the courage to walk away from time to time.”
– Robert Low, president
Prime Inc.

“Control of costs. Using technology is a major key; it’s the biggest factor in how we’re trying to control our costs. We’re using new, better software to control budgets and monitor costs.”
– Todd Heggie, manager
Watt & Stewart Comm. Inc.,
Claresholm, Alberta, Canada

“I don’t know if there is just one key. I think all trucking companies are just trying to hang on right now. Mostly, it’s trying to find good drivers and be good in the safety area. It’s also being smart enough to make changes to meet the times. Do what it takes and cut when you have to cut. There’s a fine line between profit and losses in trucking. There’s no room for mistakes. We’ve all seen better days. There are a lot of areas that can make or break you, like being able to hire good enough people. With insurance rates and fuel the way they are, it’s impossible to get a break. Even the equipment that is paid for is now worth nothing because there are so many companies going broke. It’s tough. There is no one key to survival. I wish there was, and we could just concentrate on that.”
– Frenchie Floyd, vice president of safety and human resources
Floyd & Beasley Transfer, Sycamore, Ala.

“We try not to get bogged down with the things we can’t control. We have no control over fuel prices or the price of used equipment. We go back to our core competencies. We go back to what we do well and our core strengths. We go back to the basics. We don’t get consumed by fuel prices, and we don’t get consumed by the fact that our trucks are worth half their book value.”
– Stephen Rumsey, president
Welborn Transport, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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