Photo: Josh Fisher | FleetOwner
The 2020 Best Fleets to Drive For ceremony at the TCA’s Annual Convention.

TCA, CarriersEdge name 2021 Best Fleets to Drive For

Jan. 7, 2021
Since 2008, the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge have selected the best for-hire trucking companies based on several driver-centric criteria. We spoke to American Central Transport to learn why they made this year's list.

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and CarriersEdge have announced the “2021 Best Fleets to Drive For,” a list comprising the 20 top for-hire trucking companies that graded highest on a series of metrics ranging from compensation and benefits to advancement opportunities and driver feedback. Top honors will be awarded to the best large and small fleet and will be revealed at TCA’s Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas, taking place April 17-20.

"We are proud to recognize the winners of the 2021 Best Fleets to Drive For contest,” TCA President John Lyboldt said. “In a year where the essential services provided by our industry have come into public focus, it is especially important to acknowledge those carriers who are going above and beyond in setting the standards for workplace satisfaction. Each of the Top 20 winners should take pride in the dedication they have shown to our essential workforce."

CarriersEdge, which provides training for the trucking industry, launched the program in 2008 with TCA to identify the North American fleets (operating 10 or more trucks) with the most desirable workplaces. A company driver or owner-operator must nominate the trucking company for it to be eligible.

“2020 was a year like no other, and the 2021 Best Fleets showed that they were stepping up to address those challenges,” said CarriersEdge CEO Jane Jazrawy. “Even in the midst of a pandemic these fleets are focused on creating a great workplace experience for all their drivers, and with an average satisfaction rate over 90% their drivers clearly appreciate those efforts.”

This year marks a full decade for Nebraska-based Grand Island Express gracing the list, while Garner Trucking out of Findlay, Ohio, has a five-year streak going.

“It really validates all of the efforts and energies that we put into deciding what our programming, pay packages and hiring guidelines are going to look like,” Josh Mecca, director of recruiting at American Central Transport (ACT), told FleetOwner. The Kansas City, Mo.-based fleet of 300 tractors has made the list four consecutive years.

Mecca said ACT’s turnover percentile was “in the high 80s, low 90s” at the end of 2016, but is now hovering around 50%. He credits fostering open communication and feedback as a main driver, which was facilitated by WorkHound, a digital platform on which truckers can share their experiences and feelings about a specific job and/or the company overall.

“I cannot swear by it enough,” Mecca said. “It's tremendous. It goes to that audience that needs to see feedback in real time.”

Another key move was building a new $4 million terminal called ACT Plaza in the City of Fountains, which is home to the corporate office, maintenance shop, and training and service centers. “We're able to see our drivers and really get to know them a lot more,” Mecca said.

And by knowing their 290 or so drivers better (90% company to 10% owner-operator), ACT discerned how important work-life balance was. Therefore, the company shrunk its hiring area to fit the operational footprint better so all drivers had a chance to spend more time at home.

A few other pay perks provided by ACT, which pays per mile, include extra compensation for lost trailer time and breakdowns, as well as “tweener loads,” where a driver might lose two days for a load that should take a day and a half due to hours of service regulations.

TCA and CarriersEdge both cited COVID-19 as a major factor this year, and ACT provided grab-and-go care packages replete with food, masks, and sanitizer for drivers when they stopped by the facility. The fleet also stepped up in a huge way for its private drivers by giving them an extra week of vacation, and providing all drivers with hazard pay.

“It was a tough decision as it was a lot of money to swallow, but what it also did was get our drivers home in a time when they needed that break,” Mecca explained.

That tough decision may turn out to be one of the company’s wisest decisions, as it showed its drivers how valuable they are.

“It proved that we're going to take care of them and their families,” Mecca said. “I still have drivers come up and say ‘Thank you for doing that.’”

One of the stats Mecca is most proud of is the average driver tenure of 2.5 years. The industry average typically is about one year.

“The longer tenured somebody is at a company, the more invested they are personally into that company, so they're more likely to be a safer driver as well,” Mecca concluded. ACT’s CSA scores have risen as turnover has decline, he noted.

Check out the full 2021 Best Fleets to Drive For list:

[In alphabetical order]

  1. American Central Transport — Kansas City, Mo.
  2. Bison Transport Inc. — Winnipeg, Manitoba
  3. Boyle Transportation — Billerica, Mass.
  4. Central Oregon Truck Company, Inc. — Redmond, Ore.
  5. Challenger — Cambridge, Ontario
  6. Chief Carriers, Inc. — Grand Island, Neb.
  7. Erb Transport — New Hamburg, Ontario
  8. Fortigo Freight Services Inc. — Etobicoke, Ontario
  9. Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc. — Fremont, Neb.
  10. FTC Transportation, Inc. — Oklahoma City, Okla.
  11. Garner Trucking, Inc. — Findlay, Ohio
  12. Grand Island Express — Grand Island, Neb.
  13. Halvor Lines, Inc. — Superior, Wis.
  14. Jetco Delivery — Houston, Texas
  15. Nussbaum Transportation Services, Inc. — Hudson, Ill.
  16. Prime Inc. — Springfield, Mo.
  17. Thomas E. Keller Trucking Inc. — Defiance, Ohio
  18. Transpro Freight Systems Limited — Milton, Ontario
  19. Wellington Motor Freight — Aberfoyle, Ontario
  20. Wilson Logistics Inc. — Springfield, Mo.

In addition to the Top 20, TCA and CarriersEdge identified five Fleets to Watch (honorable mentions):

  1. AirTime Express — Mississauga, Ontario
  2. Boyd Bros. Transportation — Clayton, Ala.
  3. Carbon Express, Inc. — Wharton, N.J.
  4. K & J Trucking — Sioux Falls, N.D.
  5. Western Dairy Transport — Cabool, Mo.
About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

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