Riverside Transport Inc.
Riverside Transport4

Riverside Transport turns transparency into a competitive advantage

June 8, 2023
Flexibility and openness helped Kansas City-based carrier become a sought-after fleet for drivers, alongside its effective recruiting and retention programs and safety record.

Riverside Transport has a problem—but it’s a good one to have.

“We have a waiting list of drivers who want to work for us,” said Ken Resta, director of safety for the Kansas City, Kansas-based carrier. “We attribute that to a host of programs we have for them, but most importantly we feel that our recruiting and retention success comes from always being transparent and honest.”

“It fosters retention when you’re recruiting drivers the right way,” Resta continued. “Our recruiters never promise anything we can’t deliver—and that creates a reason for drivers to stay with us.”

Flexibility is another factor in attracting and retaining drivers at Riverside Transport, the safety director said. The company’s 900 trucks, for example, are operated by 300 company drivers and about 600 owner-operators under a lease-purchase plan. Riverside Transport offers truckload dry van and refrigerated, dedicated contract carriage, expedited, and oversized heavy-haul services.

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“We’re open to everything, so we allow drivers who commit to a four-year lease-purchase contract to switch back and become a company driver after 90 days, a period we know has the highest turnover rate,” Resta explained. “At the same time, a company driver who has been here for six months can move into a leased unit. That absolutely has a benefit in keeping seats filled.”

Riverside Transport also is actively recruiting military veterans by signing with Fastport, the U.S. Labor Department intermediary that supports opportunities in trucking for veterans. And the fleet credits things like competitive pay and benefits, newer equipment—its company and lease-purchase trucks are, on average, 3 years old—and effective maintenance programs as effective recruiting and retention tools. Resta also points to the practice that enrolls all company drivers in Drivers Legal Plan and makes the representation program available to owner-operators for a small fee.

Riverside Transport clearly focuses on productivity and safety as well. A user of Assured Telematics (ATI) fleet management solutions since 2019, the company activated ATI’s integrated Drivewyze Pre-Clear weigh station bypass and Drivewyze Safety+ this past summer. The solutions are offered through an ATI partnership with Geotab.

“We started with a pilot test using 50 trucks for a 30-day period,” Resta said. “Within a few weeks, we decided to activate the entire fleet. The data we were seeing was so compelling that we brought our results to management early, and they were quick to agree that we needed to move forward.”

With Drivewyze PreClear, Riverside typically receives more than 4,600 bypasses each month. “Drivewyze is in more than 800 locations,” Resta said, “and since it isn’t transponder-based, mobile weigh stations can also grant bypasses to our drivers.”

Drivewyze Safety+ has become a big contributor to safety as well. “We’ve worked hard to improve our safety scores,” Resta related. “Our drivers tell us they appreciate the in-cab alerts to slow down when they come up on dangerous curves and steep grades, and in high citation areas. And we’ve added to the alerts by geofencing areas along routes where we know our drivers need to slow down.”

Resta also said that historically, when talking with drivers about safety, the conversations are typically negative, and coaching is reactive. “Tools like Safety+ are proactive, and that leads to positive coaching, which has a better impact,” he explained. “We’re also benefiting from the new Severe Weather alerts feature in Drivewyze Safety+. Last year, we experienced some weather-related accidents. Alerts for upcoming bad weather can only help our drivers prepare for what’s ahead.”

Riverside Transport’s safety scores are proof that its initiatives are working. For example, Resta pointed out that its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Unsafe safety score has not been below the threshold since 2018. This year, under the new SMS calculation, it will be even better.

“We have a full-time person who analyzes data from vehicles, and we have a running board campaign to check in with drivers on a regular basis,” he added. “We’ve also seen a significant drop in hours-of-service citations by enforcing a policy that mandates a full 34-hour rest period for any driver who gets an 11- or 14-hour violation.”

For Resta, a lot of its success with drivers comes from the fact that it was founded by owner-operators. “That unique perspective brings driver-focused practices to the forefront,” he said, “and that gives us a recruiting and retention advantage.”

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience at fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues. 

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