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Carriers that put people first win Best Fleets to Drive For honors

March 22, 2022
28 for-hire carriers were recognized at TCA’s Truckload 2022 for providing positive working environments for truck drivers during the past year. The organization also inducted its first members into a new hall of fame.

LAS VEGAS—Listening to the people that move freight across North America is a theme among the successful fleets operating during the current capacity crunch facing the freight industry. The Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge recognized 28 of those carriers that focus on drivers during a ceremony at Truckload 2022 on March 21.

“There are a lot of good companies in that room, a lot of good companies on the stage—and for us to get identified as someone who’s leading in this particular area is pretty special,” Jim Peeples, president and COO of Challenger Motor Freight, told FleetOwner.

His Cambridge, Ontario-based fleet was named the best overall large fleet in the Best Fleet to Drive For program, an annual survey and contest recognizing the North American for-hire trucking companies who provide the best workplace experience for their drivers.

See more:  As fleets seek future drivers, TCA backs federal apprenticeship program

Garner Trucking of Findlay, Ohio, won in the small carrier category. Tim Chrulski, Garner COO, was elated for his fleet’s win. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this year after year trying to take those next steps and make the fleet a better fleet,” he told FleetOwner. “It’s about growing the organization and giving a great environment for the drivers and our staff.”

Along with honoring 10 large and 10 small carriers on stage at the Wynn Las Vegas during the general session of TCA’s annual convention, the Best Fleets to Drive For organization inducted its first eight carriers into its new hall of fame

“We all understand that the professional driver is exactly that—they’re professionals that are out there on the road doing a job, taking care of families, making sure they’re doing it safely so that they can return home,” Chrulski said. “We’ve got to give them the respect that they deserve for the job that they’re doing out there.” 

Challenger’s Peeples said that his fleet created an internal “People First” program to ensure the carrier’s leadership is focusing on its human assets. “Whether you’re an experienced driver crossing the border or you’re a new driver just coming out of school, we need to provide the training, tools, and technology to be successful.”

Peeples said that Challenger’s mixed-fleet drivers cross the U.S.-Canada border 500 times a day. And because his team of more than 1,100 drivers reached 97% COVID-19 vaccination status, which both governments have required for truck drivers to cross the border, it’s allowed the carrier to be picky when choosing its customers. 

“Shippers are scrambling for capacity, and it makes it much easier for us to say we only want to work with customers we like to do business with—those who look after our drivers, those who pay their bills on time, all the things that are important to our business,” he explained. 

Peeples gets a lot of credit for building that people-first culture, said Mark Greco, a former 10-year Challenger employee who recently became the product manager for Isaac Instruments, an ELD and fleet management provider in the U.S. and Canada. 

“Challenger is a great organization,” he told FleetOwner. “Jim built that people-first culture. Everyone feels valued at Challenger. It’s not only the driving staff but also the office staff. Challenger is a very progressive organization, and we value them as a fleet partner at Isaac.”

See more: Best Fleets to Drive For creates hall of fame for perennial top carriers

CarriersEdge CEO Jane Jazrawy said that Challenger and Garner do so well because they ask drivers what they think. “They’re willing to say to the drivers: ‘We’re doing this. Do you like it? Is this working for you?’” she recalled to FleetOwner. “And when it’s not working, they figure out something different.”

Chrulski said that Garner created podcasts and videos to reach their fleet of more than 80 drivers. “We try to create things that can touch someone from the seat of the cab,” he said. “This year, we started the Garner Family Network, where we’re trying to engage not only the driver but the folks at home to get them involved.”

This has led to family events such as a recent bowling night at a local alley. He added that all of this has helped the fleet become more empathetic to its workforce and renewed its mission to increase communications with drivers. 

Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For

Garner Trucking Inc., with 83 drivers, is already well-known for its extensive efforts to improve the industry's image. According to contest judges, it also stood out for its new entrant program and diversity efforts and recognition and driver support programs typically only seen in much larger companies.

Challenger Motor Freight Inc., with 1052 drivers, was notable for its professional development programs extending from driver apprenticeship to management training. Its investments in driver efficiency, cybersecurity, and military support also helped push it to the front of the pack.

“Year after year, the overall winners are truly changing the game,” TCA President John Lyboldt said. “It’s imperative that fleets establish driver-centric offerings which attract and retain a skilled workforce while establishing programs that improve the work-life balance for their employees. Garner Trucking and Challenger Motor Freight have done just that. Congratulations to both winners on this well-deserved honor.” 

The Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest is open to any for-hire fleet operating 10 or more trucks, regardless of TCA membership status. Nominated fleets are evaluated in areas such as driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record.

Here are 2022 Best Fleet to Drive For award winners, sponsored by Eleos Technologies and TruckRight, in alphabetical order:

Small carriers

Brenny Specialized Inc., Saint Joseph, Minnesota
Chief Carriers Inc., Grand Island, Nebraska
Garner Trucking Inc., Findlay, Ohio
K&J Trucking Inc., Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Liberty Linehaul Inc., Ayr, Ontario
Thomas E. Keller Trucking Inc., Defiance, Ohio
TransLand, Strafford, Missouri
TransPro Freight Systems Limited, Milton, Ontario
Veriha Trucking Inc., Marinette, Wisconsin
Wellington Group of Cos., Aberfoyle, Ontario

Large carriers

American Central Transport, Kansas City, Missouri
Challenger Motor Freight Inc., Cambridge, Ontario
Continental Express Inc., Sidney, Ohio
Decker Truck Line Inc. Fort Dodge, Iowa
Erb Transport, New Hamburg, Ontario
Fortigo Freight Services Inc., Etobicoke, Ontario
Fremont Contract Carriers Inc., Fremont, Nebraska
Landstar Transportation Logistics Inc., Jacksonville, Florida
Leonard's Express, Farmington, New York
TLD Logistics Services Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee

Details on the inaugural Best Fleets to Drive For Hall of Fame were announced earlier this year.

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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