Trucking is not an easy business, as any fleet manager or professional driver can tell you. But operating in the flatbed sector takes “tough” to a whole new level. Drivers are required to cover and secure loads with tarps, straps, and sometimes chains—often in bad weather. And none of these can be considered lightweight items, either.
Yet Harrold Annett and TMC Transportation make it look easy.
The TMC story starts back in 1972 when Annett purchased a dormant trucking company in Des Moines, IA—The Mickow Corp. (now you now know where the acronym “TMC” is from). That year, Wally Harrah delivered TMC’s first load from Chicago to Des Moines. With just six tractors and an office staff of two, Annett went on to build TMC into one of the largest privately held flatbed carriers in the country. And in 2013, he went a step further by making TMC an employee-owned trucking company.
“Continuous quality improvement is a way of life at TMC. Our solid base of long-term shipping clientele give credence to our reputation as a hard-working, honest, quality-driven trucking company,” Annett, who remains the carrier’s chairman and CEO, noted recently. “Our first employee remained with us until retirement, our first owner-operator stayed until retirement 12 and a half years later, and we continue doing business with our first customer. I feel very fortunate to have such talented, good people as my co-workers.”
And TMC boasts a plethora of awards to back up its quality claims as well, winning The Home Depot’s Flatbed Carrier of the Year Award for 2017, making it four years in a row TMC earned that distinction. “Receiving this distinguished award is a testament to our employees’ hard work and focus on supporting the delivery service needs of The Home Depot,” said Damon Gehrels, TMC’s vice president of dedicated operations. He noted that TMC first established a relationship with The Home Depot back in 2004 and now moves products from eight bulk distribution centers to Home Depot stores throughout the U.S. Additionally, the two often join forces to provide disaster relief to communities in need, he said.
The carrier also focuses on recruiting military veterans into its ranks and was named a 2017 Most Valuable Employer by RecruitMilitary for its work in that arena for the fifth consecutive year. “We believe our company culture is a natural fit for veterans getting out of the military. In fact, over 35% of our employees are veterans, ” noted Cheryl Freauff, vice president of driver recruiting at TMC. “Our nation’s heroes have been trained to work under pressure, can quickly adapt to change and technology advances as well as honor integrity—all the same things we value at TMC.”
All that impressed Fleet Owner’s editors, but what sealed the deal was how the flatbed carrier invested time and effort in creating longer-than-average orientation classes for its new drivers as a way to prepare them more thoroughly for the rigors of the job and keep them long term. “We were all taught at a young age that any rewarding career is one that begins with a good foundation, and that is what the TMC orientation and training program is designed to do,” according to the TMC training manual.
TMC focuses on providing drivers with extra amenities, e.g., top-of-the-line interior trim packages, power heated mirrors, power windows, and Bendix Wingman collision warning system. Drivers are even rewarded with “incentive pay” for reduced engine idling and limiting out-of-route miles. It’s all of these small things that add up to more effective tactics that keep TMC profitable and vibrant in the flatbed side of the TL segment.