The Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge have announced the winners of the 2011 Best Fleets to Drive For, a survey and contest that identifies North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers. Twenty companies are being recognized this year:
• 1st Express Inc. – Toledo, Ohio;
• Best Cartage – Kernersville, N.C.;
• Bison Transport – Winnipeg, Manitoba;
• Boyd Bros. Transportation Inc. – Clayton, Ala.;
• Con-way Truckload – Joplin, Mo.;
• Dart Transit Co. – Eagan, Minn.;
• Don Hummer Trucking – Oxford, Iowa;
• Erb Group – New Hamburg, Ontario;
• Fremont Contract Carriers – Fremont, Neb.;
• Kennesaw Transportation – Rydal, Ga.;
• Brian Kurtz Trucking – Breslau, Ontario;
• MacKinnon Transport – Guelph, Ontario;
• Paramount Freight Systems – Ft. Myers, Fla.;
• Pride Transport Inc. – Salt Lake City;
• Schneider National – Green Bay, Wis.;
• Motor Carrier Service Inc. – Northwood, Ohio;
• Trimac Transportation – Houston;
• Vedder Transportation Group – Abbotsford, B.C.;
• WTI Transport Inc. – Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and
• Yanke Group – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In addition, five companies have been identified as “Fleets to Watch” (honorable mentions) for making rapid progress toward an outstanding driver workplace:
• Drive Logistics – Windsor, Ontario;
• Hueneman Trucking – Garner, Iowa;
• Tennant Truck Lines Inc. – Orion, Ill.;
• Spirit Truck Lines Inc. – San Juan, Texas; and
• Turk Enterprises – St. Andrews, Manitoba.
The nomination process for the third annual contest began in the fall of 2010 when company drivers and owner-operators were asked to nominate carriers that operate 10 trucks or more. After confirming the validity of the nominations and the trucking companies’ desire to participate, CarriersEdge interviewed human resources representatives and executives of the nominated fleets about their corporate direction, policies and programs. Nominated fleets were evaluated against a scoring matrix covering a variety of categories, such as:
• Total compensation package – including base pay, bonuses, vacation, and sick day allotment;
• Health benefits;
• Pension plans;
• Professional development opportunities (training, coaching programs, etc.);
• Career path/advancement opportunities;
• Commitment to employee personal growth, including work/life balance, driver family support, and employee-directed charitable contributions;
• Commitment to continuous improvement, including dispute resolution processes and inclusion of driver feedback in policymaking;
• Team building and driver community development activities;
• Annual driver turnover rate and efforts to improve; and
• Fleet safety record.
A selection of each fleet’s drivers also was surveyed, with their feedback compared to management’s and incorporated into the final score. The responses then were tallied, resulting in the selection of this year’s 20 winners and five honorable mentions.
“We were pleased to see that for 2011, drivers nominated 30 percent more fleets over last year,” says Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge. “Also, fleet participation [fleets who agreed to participate in the phone interviews] went up by over 80 percent. We had a much higher level of interest, especially from first-timers.”
TCA attributes this heightened interest to more awareness of the Best Fleets program. “After each contest and survey cycle, we compile and widely publicize the best practices of each winning fleet,” says John Kaburick, chairman of TCA and president of Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co., Salem, Ill. “The results are a snapshot of excellence. It’s only natural for drivers and fleets to want to be a part of this.”
The best practices culled from this year’s winning fleet interviews indicate some interesting new trends that barely appeared on last year’s survey. For example, social networking has become prominent in trucking. A number of fleets have Facebook groups that serve as a foundation for their recruiting efforts online. The benefit is that drivers do much of the recruiting work by answering questions about the company and providing testimonials. Twitter also has emerged as a popular tool, primarily for sharing just-in-time information about weather conditions, traffic and company activities.
Some fleets also said they are incorporating Google’s Street View technology into their standard operating procedures. Street View is used for route planning, and some carriers are making it a normal part of ramping up new customers because they can check out all of the places their trucks will be driving without having to go in person first. Both the Satellite Maps and Street View technologies also are becoming key tools for accident investigations and are quite useful for understanding why collisions took place and what can be done to avoid them in the future.
CarriersEdge noticed another technology appear on this year’s survey results: vehicles that are powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas). A few fleets have made the leap to LNG, which is environmentally friendly and easily renewable, while others said they are evaluating it right now. “While a lot of larger fleets are getting on board with it, we’re also seeing interest (and purchases) in some smaller fleets as well,” Murrell says.
Now that the top 20 finalists have been named, the next phase of the contest is to announce the highest-scoring fleets from each of two categories: Best Overall Fleet for Owner-Operators and Best Overall Fleet for Company Drivers, sponsored by Marsh Inc. These overall winners will be honored at the TCA Annual Convention, set for March 13-16 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and Convention Center in San Diego.