CCJ Innovator: Paramount Freight Systems’ benefits, communication with drivers garner attention

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Updated Feb 9, 2017
The owner-operator fleet implements a bonus program and provides more than a week of training per year.The owner-operator fleet implements a bonus program and provides more than a week of training per year.

Flexibility and incentives for its drivers are two big reasons why Paramount Freight Systems continues to be recognized as an award-winning driver-friendly company.

Last March, the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge announced Paramount as the overall winner of the annual Best Fleets to Drive For award in the owner-operator category at TCA’s annual convention in Grapevine, Texas.

Best Fleets to Drive For, now accepting nominations for the seventh year, identifies North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers. Nominated carriers are evaluated on the range and depth of offered programs, the overall effectiveness of those programs across key metrics, and the responses of surveyed drivers. Factors include the fleet’s total compensation package, commitment to employee development, annual turnover rate and safety record.

The top 20 finishers are identified as Best Fleets to Drive For, and the highest scoring fleet in both the owner-operator and company driver categories are named overall winners. Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was announced as the overall winner in the company driver category.

It’s the third time in the last four years that the overall owner-operator award went to Paramount, which received the highest driver-satisfaction score in the program this year.

Paramount Freight Systems director Trent Dye accepts the Best Fleets to Drive For award in the owner-operator category at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual convention in March in Grapevine, Texas.Paramount Freight Systems director Trent Dye accepts the Best Fleets to Drive For award in the owner-operator category at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual convention in March in Grapevine, Texas.

“Being named in the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For list acknowledges the work we have done to build our organization, and being named the best overall for the third time gives us validation that our work is benefiting our owners and customers,” says Trent Dye, Paramount’s director. “We will continue to build upon these successes to strengthen our company for their benefit. We have a great team, and I can’t thank them enough for working together to achieve this honor.”

Flexibility, safety key

Paramount, launched in 2008, offers long-haul, dedicated, expedited and regional service. About 130 owner-operators haul dry freight in the United States and Canada.

The company targets opportunities in high-service markets and strives to apply technology to meet customer requirements. Paramount stresses safety, top-notch customer service and honesty and integrity in its business activities.

In-cab scanning allows drivers to send documents to the back office immediately to turn billing and payroll around quickly and accurately. Drivers receive their weekly settlements by Wednesdays at noon via email and know what will be deposited into their accounts on Friday, providing enough lead time to work with the company’s payroll department if they find any problems.

Paramount’s innovative bonus program is designed to compensate for the fact that contractors do not receive holiday pay. The program also provides more than a week of training per year to contractors.

Dye believes the company’s benefits also help make it stand out. Drivers receive about 10 to 30 cents off fuel at select national truck stop chains, and the company also offers a parts discount program, allowing drivers to purchase parts and tires at prices usually below what parts and tire distributors pay.

“Since we’re 100 percent owner-operator, it’s a little easier for us than a company who has both,” Dye says.

Owner-operator David Vandiver of Lindberg, Ohio, says the program’s perfect for him since he does his own maintenance on his 1997 Kenworth W900, with nearly 2 million miles on it. Dye says the company also pays for mandatory quarterly inspections. “It helps the drivers keep their equipment up,” he says.

Paramount gives drivers $150 for every clean inspection. The company’s “King of the Road” program also rewards drivers every month they don’t have an accident. For a driver’s first accident-free month, he or she receives a hat, and other gifts are given for every consecutive safe month.

After 12 consecutive months, the driver receives a “King of the Road” letterman’s jacket, and then patches for it with more consecutive months of accident-free driving. “It’s a big pride thing,” Dye says.

Paramount’s emphasis on safety is evident in the recognition it’s received from the Ohio Trucking Association, which has awarded the company both the Safe Fleet Award and the President’s Award for Overall Fleet Safety three years in a row from 2011 to 2013.

On the flip side, if a driver has an accident or gets a speeding ticket, he or she completes immediate safety training through an in-cab PC/scanner with a 7-inch screen that runs on Wi-Fi and also enables driver logs and paperwork scanning.

Drivers watch the required safety video via the Paramount website in their truck instead of waiting until they’re at a computer at home. “It’s an immediate remedial training,” Dye says.

Talking it out

Communication with and among drivers also is key to overall satisfaction. Three years ago, Paramount started an owner-operator committee made up of four drivers. The committee meets quarterly, and it releases a newsletter following every meeting to update drivers on what was discussed.

Paramount owner-operator David Sandiver enjoys strong company discounts on parts since he does his own repairs on his truck, which has nearly 2 million miles.Paramount owner-operator David Sandiver enjoys strong company discounts on parts since he does his own repairs on his truck, which has nearly 2 million miles.

The committee members are voted on by all Paramount drivers and receive a one-year term. Every Paramount driver is assigned to a committee member for representation. Dye says the committee is so popular, there’s a waiting list to serve on it.

The Jeffersonville, Ohio-based company also connects with its drivers through its monthly national conference call, where all drivers can call in and dis- cuss their concerns. “I was a little hesitant to do it at first, but I’ve been completely shocked by how well it’s been received,” Dye says. Vandiver says the monthly call is a great way to “work things out.”

Vandiver says his other favorite things about driving for Paramount are direct deposit, the discounted fuel card, all miles being paid, the discounted parts program and its onboard communications. Para- mount also offers financial and business classes for its owner-operators.

Vandiver began working at a fuel station as a teenager and worked as a welder, firefighter, fuel transporter and machinist before landing in trucking in 1991 with Roadway Express. He became an owner- operator in 2002, and in 2008, the first driver to lease with Paramount.

“I told Paramount what I needed, and I eventually got everything I needed,” Van- diver says. High on his list was a steady haul, and he now hauls auto parts in a dedicated line.

“The flexibility we offer as a company is key,” Dye says. “It gives the guys a lot of freedom to run the way they want to run.”

By staying with Paramount as it grew, Vandiver has been able to pass on jobs he doesn’t want because there are plenty of other accounts and enough drivers to cover them. “Anyone who leases on has a lot of choices,” he says.

Paramount also can help an owner- operator “with nothing in their pocket” get back on track, Vandiver says, thanks to the fuel card and cash advances for food.

“Our 100 percent owner-operator model is built upon bringing in the best possible owner-operators that we can find,” Dye says. “We take great pride in providing a safe and rewarding environment for owner-operators. New rules and regulations make it tougher each year for the owner-operator driver, and we strive to find and develop programs that allow them to excel in the organization.”