The news from the Associated General Contractors of America was no surprise to Chad Beito, president of Insearch Corp., an Arizona construction material hauler. Construction employment increased over the past year and reached a 10-year high, adding workers at nearly three times the rate of the economy as a whole.
Construction firms would likely have added even more workers if they could find qualified candidates to hire, the association said. It mirrors what Insearch has encountered.
"Business has definitely picked up and we're experiencing steady growth, but it is challenging to get enough drivers and owner-operators," Beito said. "Despite working with driving schools to find prospective students, offering signing bonuses, and raising driver pay rates, it remains a challenge to find candidates."
"Additionally, we hire 70 to 100 owner-operators per day, which can be a daunting task since they work for our competitors as well," he added. "When we're busy, everyone is busy."
Tempe, AZ-based Insearch was founded by Beito's parents in 1992 as a business that placed pictures of missing children on vending machines, hence the name "Insearch." But Beito father's first love was construction; having worked for a highway construction company for 27 years, it was in his blood.
So a year later, with a cell phone and a pickup truck, the senior Beito began orchestrating projects and eventually began buying trucks, trailers, and equipment.
Today, Insearch is still a family affair. Chad's sister Heather serves as director of sales and marketing, and his wife Julia is the company's director of program management. In addition to family, the company prides itself on many long-term, dedicated team members that the company attributes to its ongoing success.
A major player in the Phoenix-area construction industry, Insearch fields 45 pieces of equipment—including 36 different combinations of trucks and trailers—that haul construction materials to job sites. The company fleet is maintained by an in-house shop staff, which Chad Beito credits with being instrumental in keeping maintenance expenses to a minimum.
Most recently, Insearch has been ordering Kenworth T880 tractors from Inland Kenworth-Phoenix for its fleet. To date, it has 14 of those in service that pull mainly Ranco double- and single-belly dump trailers. It also fields 16- and 18-wheel dump trucks, and weight is always a consideration in this business.
"We run as many doubles as we can," Beito related. "We're usually paid by the ton or load, so more payload means greater opportunity for revenue and a cost-effective operation."
"Weight savings is critical to us," he added. "By changing our latest specs from the 12.9L Paccar MX-13 engine to the manufacturer's 10.8L MX-11, we're saving 400 lbs. that can be put into extra payload capacity. Both engines have the same horsepower and torque ratings—430 hp. with 1,550 lbs.-ft. of torque—so our drivers don't notice any difference in performance, while we're certainly seeing the difference to our bottom line."
Beito noted that Insearch drivers are proponents of Eaton UltraShift Plus automated manual transmissions in the fleet's latest tractors. "Eliminating manual shifting has been a great benefit for them," he said. "In the greater Phoenix area, with a lot of stop-and-go driving, the physical act of shifting adds to the stress. With an automated gearbox you just go, and that also gives drivers more time to focus on operating our trucks as safely and productively as possible."
Insearch has upwards of 100 company trucks and owner-operators on the road daily delivering time-sensitive loads for customers. The company trucks feature a black-and-gold paint scheme, so they are easy to spot.
"They really stand out in a crowd, and we get compliments all the time because our trucks are so unique that people notice them," Beito said.