NCI Building Systems is the nation's leading integrated manufacturer of metal products for the nonresidential construction market. By performing metal coil coating services and producing metal components and engineered building systems, what they produce may ultimately take shape as a small town church, a light-industrial warehouse, a Hummer truck dealership or urban office complex, to name just a few.
Larry Dean, General Manager/Corporate Transportation started at NCI 28 years ago as a shop hand and worked his way up to supervisor and eventually general manager of manufacturing. Among several other assignments, Dean manages NCI's private fleet, which operates 11-million miles a year.
The fleet consists of 115 drivers, an equal number of Class 8 tractors and 350 trailers. Driver turnover is at or below national averages for private fleets (11%-16%). In 2004, it was under 15%, and year-to-date is about 5%.
The private fleet moves raw materials from steel plants to the company's metal coil coating facilities. Once the steel coils are coated and finished, they are shipped to other NCI plants that make metal components. In addition, about 50% of the private fleet's runs are to end customers.
NCI's private fleet operates as a cost center and places a considerable premium on high customer service ratings and on-time deliveries. Paying sufficient attention to the drivers is a management priority. “Trying to make enough personal contact with the drivers and acknowledging them as a critical part of the company is important to us,” says Dean.
“Once a month, plant managers hold safety meetings with drivers; quarterly meetings are scheduled as well. Also, we have a box of thank-you notes which we use to express appreciation for good performance, in addition to cell phone calls to drivers where instant recognition is in order.”
The company newsletter regularly highlights the good works of NCI drivers. This year, an article showcased James H. Tolly, who was recognized as an NPTC Driver Hall of Fame 2006 winner at the association's Annual Conference in Nashville.
“James Tolly,” says Dean, “is one of our star drivers with over 3,000,000 accident-free and moving-violation-free records as an over-the-road driver….He has continued his leadership role with the company and is a great role model for current and prospective drivers.”
“We hold safety as a core value and we are proud that two of our drivers have surpassed the 3,000,000-mile accident-free milestone,” he says. “We also have several others who have received 500,000, 1,000,000 and 2,000,000-mile accident-free safety awards.”
Support for the private fleet has always been strong. “Our CEO started the private fleet in 1978, so we got off to a good start right off the bat in terms of upper management appreciation,” Dean explains.
While the fleet covers about 25% of NCI's transportation requirements, plans are to grow it by 3%-5% a year. “We want to optimize our fleet and enhance our capacity through mutually beneficial partnerships, which is one of the key reasons we joined NPTC last year and became actively involved in its programs,” he adds.
“We see the Council as a great partner in helping our exceptional private fleet forge ahead and continue to provide a competitive advantage, through superior operations, to our core businesses.”
Gary Petty is President and CEO of the National Private Truck Council.The council's web site is www.nptc.org. His column appears monthly in FLEET OWNER.