“Raise your prices. Actually, I wouldn’t do that – we’re a small company. We haven’t had much luck in 2001, so I don’t know about 2002. Just spend your money wisely – that’s the key. Make repairs when your trucks really need it. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I think it’s going to take a good year-and-a-half before things turn around. I think we’ll see a lot of companies continue to go out of business in 2002.”
– Steve Boswell, owner
Hoosier Land Jet, Butlerville, Ind.
“Drivers, drivers, drivers. That’s it. That would sum it up for me. You can say it in three words or a thousand words. The companies that can recruit and keep drivers are the ones that will grow. You can get the freight you need, but the guys with drivers are the guys with the opportunity to grow.”
– Ted Benckart, president
Rock Solid Stone Belt Inc., Shoals, Ind.
“We’ve been growing 35 to 70 percent for the last 5 years. Our 2002 goal is between 35 to 40 percent. The key is to not lose track of what you’re doing successfully. We’re continuing to expand in markets around the country. The key is to have fuel-efficient, low maintenance equipment and quality, professional drivers. We don’t have trucks sitting; we’re always looking for more professional drivers who maintain productivity. Above all, we will continue to focus on quality and service to our current customer base. Growth will come somewhat with old customers, but largely from new customers. The people that hunker down this next year are making a mistake. We go full force ahead. In a downturn, we’ve always tried for growth. It’s not a time to reduce efforts as far as sales. Escalate sales efforts during a downturn. When the downturn is over, we will come up roaring then. You also have to take those chances and make the capital investments.”
– Leon Balentine, president
USA Motor Express Inc., Florence, Ala.
“The keys to growth are: technology transfer; online collaboration; and responsiveness to customer requests for delivery of value-added services. First, the continued training and expansion of technical skills of people must happen or other initiatives cannot move forward. We have engaged in online collaboration with our customers, their suppliers and internal staff. We fully intend to continue on this path having seen the benefit and share in cost savings of time, money and continual process improvement. Also, we have the ability and time to listen to the customers’ needs and verify we ‘have it right.’ We also have the knowledge base of skill, experience, human and tangible resources and technological tools to craft the right solution fit. We stick to it from Day No. 1 with no less vengeance in ‘Year 10.’ This is the foundation we have established and continue to strive to enhance in 2002.”
– Allen Furrer, President and CEO
ICON Transportation Company Inc., Remington, Ind.
“I have four keys to growth: 1) Have in place a safety awareness mindset. Constantly measure compliance, accidents and worker injury and put in place a progressive safety program. It will save thousands in insurance and litigation costs; 2) Spend time with customers focusing on needs and constantly looking for ways to add value; 3) In times like these, keep debt under control. There is a lot of used equipment out there with low mileage and very good prices; and 4) Maintain adequate cash flow. And finally, I think that people should not be thinking about ways to reduce their workforce, but more time should be spent on giving people ability to create new opportunities. Even in times like these you can add services and value. Our management meetings are spent thinking of ways to create new opportunities. So far we’ve experienced increases in sales for the last four years. If you spend too much time cutting costs, you lose good people in the process, and it’s impossible to get them back.”
– Charles Pals, president
Eagle Express Lines, Highland, Ind.
Question: What is your equipment buying strategy for 2002? Respond by e-mail to ahuff@eTrucker.com or fax to (205) 248-1046.