Truckload Carriers Association
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Culture of transparency fuels Best Fleets to Drive For winner

March 8, 2023
TCA and CarriersEdge recognize fleets that create superior workplaces for company drivers and independent contractors. Chief Carriers of Nebraska and C.A.T. of Quebec win overall awards and two more fleets are inducted into the Best Fleets’ Hall of Fame.

KISSIMMEE, Florida—Andrew Winkler got emotional on stage when his company was named the 2023 Best Fleet to Drive For just five years after he took over as general manager of Chief Carriers. He said his passion for helping drivers succeed and being transparent with them paid off with the coveted for-hire fleet award.

"Just to understand how much work goes into that and for it to finally come together," Winkler told FleetOwner after Chief won Best Overall Fleet in the small carrier category during the Truckload Carriers Association convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort outside Orlando.

"You don't ever think you're going to win or get that recognition because I know who I'm standing on stage with," the fleet executive added. "All those carriers work so hard, and they probably had their leadership in place for so many more years. For our group to be able to do that in such a short amount of time makes me incredibly proud."

See also: More TCA 2023 coverage from Florida

C.A.T. Inc. of Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, won the Best Overall Fleet in the large carrier category. And two more carriers were added to the Best Fleets to Drive For Hall of Fame: TransPro Freight Systems Limited of Milton, Ontario, and Garner Trucking of Findlay, Ohio, which was the overall winner in last year's small carrier category. Eighteen other fleets were honored on stage as part of the 20 Best Fleets to Drive For in 2023.

For 15 years, TCA and online driver training provider CarriersEdge have awarded the Best Fleets to Drive For. The annual survey and contest recognize for-hire trucking companies in North America that provide the best workplace experience for their drivers and owner-operators. 

Small carrier makes big strides for drivers

See also: Safety tips from TCA Fleet Safety Award winners

"Seeing Chief Carriers progress in the past few years, it's not surprising that they won the overall award," said Jane Jazrawy, CarriersEdge CEO. "They clearly have a plan for developing driver support programs, and their scores across all categories show that the plan is working."

Grand Island, Nebraska-based Chief Carriers is a flatbed operation with 75 trucks, operated by 50 company drivers and 25 lease operators. Winkler said the fleet has about 200 flatbeds. 

"Who you're really working for is those drivers," he said. "You're building that culture for those guys and gals. To have them validate everything you're doing—the last step in the Best Fleets contest is that driver survey. It really doesn't matter how hard we've worked all year long if we can't communicate and translate that to the drivers so they understand what we've done for them."

One of the ways Winkler is improving communication within the carrier—and beyond—is through a podcast he launched last year. "Driven Too Far: The Truth About Trucking" is available on various podcast platforms and isn't branded as a Chief Carriers production.

"The idea was I'm passionate about helping drivers," Winkler explained. "I think there are so many drivers that are misinformed out there, or they're jaded because they've been treated poorly by another carrier. In the podcast, we're trying to help them be successful. The idea was to pull back the curtain so you, as a driver, can talk to an executive in the trucking industry and see how things work behind the scenes. Being transparent and wide open with them is how I run the company." 

He added: "If you're not giving them transparency, then they're over in the corner of the driver lounge, making up what they don't know."

2023's Best Fleets to Drive For in North America

To be considered, fleets must be nominated by a company driver or independent contractor working with them, after which they are evaluated across a broad range of categories reflecting current best practices in human resources. 

"Year after year, the overall winners are truly changing the game," TCA President Jim Ward 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. Chief Carriers and C.A.T. have done just that, and their results show that those efforts pay off."

C.A.T is the first fleet in over a decade to win the overall award in its first year in the contest, Jazrawy said. "Most participants need multiple years to progress from finalist to Top 20 to overall winner," she said. "For C.A.T. to make it not just into the Top 20 but to the top of the list is a remarkable achievement. They've put a huge effort into their programs this past year, and that effort was evident throughout the evaluation process."

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 driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record. 

Here is a complete list of the 20 Best Fleets to Drive For finalists, Hall of Fame members (who must requalify each year), and some fleets to watch. 

2023 Best Fleets to Drive For Hall of Fame

2023 Best Fleets to Drive For: Small Carriers

2023 Best Fleets to Drive For: Large Carriers

2023 Fleets to Watch

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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