Standard Logistics
Standard Logistics leadership team.

Standard Logistics: Creating a driver-focused culture to spur growth

June 14, 2023
The private fleet has doubled in size this decade as it turns to drivers to help lead the way to growth. Standard Logistics continually requests feedback from its 330 drivers to build its company culture.

Leaning into growing a driver-friendly culture of transparency that relies on technology to improve operations are among the efforts that made Standard Logistics the 2023 FleetOwner Private Fleet to Watch.

Despite supply chain constraints causing procurement headaches for fleets of all sizes over the past few years, Dallas-based Standard Logistics—the private fleet of Standard Industries—set out in 2021 to double its fleet size. The hauler of raw and finished residential and commercial building materials met its goal in 2023 as the fleet grew to 300 tractors with 530 trailers.

Home Depot’s 2021 Carrier of the Year has about 330 company and dedicated drivers. Some of those operators come through driver leasing companies. “We treat everybody the same here,” John Robbins, Standard Logistics’ senior director of operations, told FleetOwner.

See also: FleetOwner's Private Fleet of the Year honorees

Robbins said the fleet has about 400 full-time employees and has grown through its employee-focused culture. “I’m a true believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he said. “You’ve got to fight for your culture 100% of the time. It’s really hard to walk that walk, though. It’s sometimes hard to live up to it. It takes a lot more effort than what it looks like, but we’re getting awesome feedback from the team.”

Before earning that feedback, Robbins said he and fleet President Volker Bargenda meet with each new driver once a week for 30 minutes. “We just walk through what our expectations are,” Robbins explained. “We reinforce our views on servant leadership and the principles surrounding that, and we talk about some of the activities we do to get driver feedback.”

Standard created a driver action council, for example, that meets with management once a month. New policies and procedures are first presented to the council to get feedback before fleetwide implementation. 

At one point, the fleet’s safety director wanted to ban drivers from using cell phones, including hands-free usage, in the cabs. The safety director was concerned about driver distractions. The driver council, however, devised a compromise that management agreed to test out.

That compromise included the fleet installing mounts for drivers’ phones and placing stickers in the truck that reminded drivers not to text, touch or use phones while driving. “And we’re going to monitor it to see how these changes affect things over the next couple of months,” Robbins said.

See also: Deterring distracted driving to save dollars and lives

Transparency has been a significant part of the fleets’ recent growth and success, he added. “We developed some really easy-to-understand competency scales and published those to the team,” Robbins said. “They’ve got visibility of where they are now and where they can be eventually. I think that went a long way.”

Robbins said that Standard also uses artificial intelligence to help optimize assets, keep drivers moving, and help the fleet’s bottom line by selecting optimal backhauls. 

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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