The Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) and CarriersEdge announced the 2012 winners of the fourth annual Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest that identifies North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers.
“For 2012, we saw a heightened level of interest from the nominated fleets,” according to Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge. “It seems that everybody wants to be named a ‘Best Fleet to Drive For.’ Some folks even called us before we began interviewing just to double check that we had their current contact information. It was the virtual equivalent of camping out overnight for concert tickets.”
“We saw a 35% increase in the number of fleets that not only agreed to participate, but completed all their interviews and paperwork on time to make it to the final segment of the competition,” said Gary Salisbury, TCA’s 2011-12 chairman and the president and & CEO of Fikes Truck Line, Hope, AR. “But I have to say it’s not easy to become a Best Fleet… it takes serious thinking outside the box and a willingness to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of life for your drivers.”
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 Canada, Ltd. will be honored at the TCA Annual Convention, March 4-7, 2012, at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL.
This year’s winners are as follows:
• Best Cartage – Kernersville, North Carolina
• Bison Transport – Winnipeg, Manitoba
• Boyd Bros. Transportation, Inc. – Clayton, Alabama
• Celadon Canada – Kitchener, Ontario
• D.J. Knoll Transportation – White City, Saskatchewan
• Don Hummer Trucking – Oxford, Iowa
• Erb Group – New Hamburg, Ontario
• Fremont Contract Carriers – Fremont, Nebraska
• Gordon Trucking, Inc. – Pacific, Washington
• Grand Island Express – Grand Island, Nebraska
• Kriska Holdings – Prescott, Ontario
• Landstar System – Jacksonville, Florida
• Motor Carrier Services – Northwood, Ohio
• Paramount Freight Systems – Ft. Myers, Florida
• Sammons Trucking – Missoula, Montana
• Steelman Transportation, Inc. – Springfield, Missouri
• Tennant Truck Lines – Orion, Illinios
• Trimac Transportation – Houston, Texas
• WTI Transport, Inc. – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
• Yanke Group – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
In addition, five companies have been identified as “Fleets to Watch” (honorable mentions) for demonstrating innovation in their driver programs:
• American Central Transport – Liberty, Missouri
• Epes Transport System, Inc. – Greensboro, North Carolina
• Liberty Linehaul, Inc. – Ayr, Ontario
• Melton Truck Lines – Tulsa, Oklahoma
• TimeLine Logistic International – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The nomination process for contest began in the fall of 2011, when company drivers and owner operators were asked to nominate carriers that operate 10 or more trucks. 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
•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 it
• Fleet safety record
Drivers from nominated fleets were also surveyed, with feedback compared to management’s and incorporated into the final score. The responses were then tallied, resulting in the selection of this year’s winners and honorable mentions, according to TCA.
The best practices that surfaced from this year’s winning fleet interviews indicate trends that many in the trucking industry will want to note. For example, more fleets seem to be offering drivers profit sharing as part of their compensation packages.
Fleets also appear to be replacing their traditional safety-based bonus systems for more comprehensive programs, TCA said. Although safety is still a critical component, today’s drivers are also being rewarded for their performance in areas such as fuel efficiency, on-time deliveries, and maintaining current training.
The survey found that company drivers are driving the same number of miles and earning about the same income as last year. For owner operators, miles are also flat, but income has increased by a scant 5%. “One might think that as the economy improves, a driver might earn more, but, surprisingly, these statistics appear to show otherwise,” commented Murrell. “Fortunately, the drivers at our winning fleets still have high driver satisfaction levels, as a result of well-balanced program offerings.”
When it comes to continuing education, today’s drivers seem to have many different and more flexible options than in the past. Nearly half of the fleets surveyed said they are offering tuition reimbursement for drivers who take accounting, management, or similar programs at a college. They are also making a better effort to send drivers to conferences and trade shows and to help them earn various professional accreditations.