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All in the trucking family

Family-owned fleets, second-generation drivers and engineers share the secrets of their success.

There often is a unique closeness among employees at trucking companies that is difficult to find in other industries. For a number of trucking fleets, that closeness has been fostered by being family-owned for multiple generations.

This family-oriented culture not only leads family members to join the business but also leads to employees encouraging their relatives to follow in their footsteps.  

“I love being able to be with my dad, brothers, and cousins every day. We enjoy spending time together,” said Josh England, president of C.R. England.

The Salt Lake City-based carrier got its start in 1920 by Chester Rodney England, who bought a truck to help deliver produce for farmers in northern Utah. He then involved his children in the day-to-day operations. “My grandpa Gene and his brother Bill started driving trucks when they were 12 years old,” England said.  

Gene and Bill helped grow the company. “They both served in [World War II], and they had a goal to buy a second truck for the company when they returned from the war. They sold their cigarette rations throughout the war and had saved up enough money,” England explained.

Today, Gene, who is 99, still arrives at his office most days and works alongside about 20 family members. Bill passed away earlier in 2018 at 95.

At A. Duie Pyle, based in West Chester, PA, members of the third- and fourth-generation are working within the business. Alexander Duie Pyle started the company in 1924.

In 1945, his son-in-law, Jim Latta, joined the company. Later, Jim’s sons, Jimmy, Duie and Peter joined the company. Today, Peter serves as chairman, and his son-in-law, Frank Granieri, serves as the chief operating officer.

“Peter spent many, many years putting together several processes and policies that revolve around succession planning and ensuring that we were doing the right thing for the business long term,” Granieri said, adding that family members remove themselves from the decision-making process with family hires. “We’re based on meritocracy. We want to ensure that any family involvement is such that it truly adds value to the organization, particularly in maintaining the culture that has made it sustainable for 94 years.”

Granieri held positions with UPS and Icon Office Solutions before joining Pyle seven years ago.  Once he came onboard, he rotated between several positions at the carrier, including customer service and accounts receivable — and he obtained his commercial driver’s license.

C.R. England also has set processes for family members looking to join the management team, including applicants getting a four-year degree and working somewhere else for several years.

“We invite them to join us when there is a need,” England said, adding that the company guarantees family members can get a position to help work their way through school. “We have more than 8,500 people at the company — 6,500 are drivers and we have 2,000 non-driving positions. There is room to work people in, and we need a lot of good help to make it work.”

Reggie Dupré, CEO of Dupré Logistics, said he too has a simple rule for his own children. “They had to get a job and work somewhere else for five years before they came to work for us,” he said.

Dupré founded Dupré Transport in Lafayette, LA, in 1980 to ensure transportation for his small service station. He later added a chemical hauling unit, bought an over-the-road van fleet, and added brokerage and dedicated contract carriage.

“When we initially started the business, my brothers, my sisters and myself owned it,” Dupré said. “We divided it up in the ‘80s. My brother went another way.”

Today, Dupré’s son Dominic works in the company’s shale and crude oil business. When Dominic joined Dupré, he worked in several departments — from human resources to insurance.

“It really excited me a lot when we decided that Dom was going to come to work,” Dupré said. “It lit my fire again.”

Dupré has strategically positioned it so Dominic reports to one of the company’s vice presidents. “He reports to somebody else and that works best with us.”

Dupré said he has learned to never promote family members past their level of performance.

“When younger family members come in behind another family member who has built the family up and are respected in the industry, it is harder for the younger person to come in and build their own name and get their own reputation,” he said. “The senior family member has to make sure the person has the opportunity to do that and the other person isn’t always in your shadow.”

Raider Express, based in Fort Worth, TX, got started as a family-owned business in 1998, with Mike Eggleton Jr., his brother Dan Eggleton, and his father, Mike Eggleton Sr., and each person plays to his strengths. Mike Eggleton Jr. said he handles sales calls while his brother serves as the chief financial officer.

“It is a really good combination of what our strengths are,” he said. “We remember each other’s roles and that keeps us grounded.”

Like many other families, the Eggletons’ trucking roots run deep.

“My grandfather, Richard Eggleton, was a glass hauler,” Mike Eggleton Jr. said. “My dad worked for his uncle, who is Gus Osterkamp with Osterkamp Trucking. He left Osterkamp and started his own thing.”

Mike Eggleton Sr. was also in trucking before founding Raider Express, and Mike Eggleton Jr. said growing up in a family business often means starting to work at a young age. “When I was eight years old, I was dispatching my first truck in our house office,” he said. “My dad was paying me $2 an hour. He was mad when I had to go back to school.”

For the Englands, running a family business when you are a large family is a bit of an art form. Gene had six boys, including Dan England, Josh’s father and C.R. England chairman. Part of the success of C.R. England has involved buyouts where one branch of the family buys out another branch.

“We make sure the actual ownership of the company remains fairly consolidated in one branch of the family,” England said, adding that even when buyouts have occurred, many of the family members have continued to work at the company.

For Dupré, one of the most rewarding parts of working with family is setting common objectives and goals, and working together to achieve them. “You get the same satisfaction when it isn’t your family member but it is even more satisfying when it is your family member,” he said.

Carriers said they work hard to make sure there is a family feel to their entire organizations and have seen their employees embrace the atmosphere. Aaron Stoker, a third-generation professional driver for A. Duie Pyle, said he grew up wanting to be just like his father, Robert Stoker, and grandfather, Jack Stoker, who both drove for the company.

“I would watch my father do stuff with a truck that most would think was impossible, and I always wanted to do the same someday,” he said. “Now, I’m fortunate enough I get to do it and live up to their legacy.”

Jack retired in the ’80s while Robert retired in 2017 after driving for A. Duie Pyle for 42 years. “He got to work side by side with my grandfather, and he gets to continue that tradition with me,” Aaron Stoker said of his father. “We have always been close, but working side by side has made us much closer, creating a special bond.”

Stoker said his father taught him about a lot of the old school ways to do things when it comes to driving. “Now, I mostly get to teach a lot about the ‘new’ ways that are involved with driving, such as ways to integrate technology into driving and the trucking industry,” he added.

Drivers said they are happy to bring on family members when they’re happy with their positions. Randy Thomas and his sons Jeremy and Jonathan all drive for FedEx.

“When he decided he wanted to drive, it was a no-brainer to get him to come here,” Randy said of Jeremy.

Jeremy always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. “Dad has always been a hero to me and someone I look up to with great respect,” he said. “As a kid, I would spend hours in his truck, blowing the air and pretending to be on the CB.”

Randy has been driving for 41 years, spending 22 of those at FedEx. Jeremy started with FedEx on the loading dock before taking part in the company’s driver training. The pair said they’ve learned from each other at work, with Jeremy helping Randy embrace new technology and Randy teaching Jeremy what it means to be a professional driver.  “We’re constantly talking about things at work and how we can do things better,” Randy said.

Similarly, Tommy McMahon followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a professional driver at Irving, TX-based National Carriers. McMahon’s father, Billy McMahon, became a driver when he left the Army in 1950, and McMahon said he has fond memories of his father’s career. “Back when I was in school, my dad would drive the truck home over lunch, and my brother and I would fight over who was going to pull the air horn,” he said.

“I worked side-by-side with my dad and drove regular straight fuel trucks when I was 17. You could get a commercial license then,” McMahon said.

In 2000, he went to driving school and has been driving for National Carriers for about nine years.  “I love pulling a reefer. This is my happy place.”

Getting families involved is a top priority at Raider Express, and the carrier brought on a social media expert to increase engagement. The carrier hosts pumpkin-carving and drawing contests for employees’ children. “We have coloring books for the kids and send school supply packets home for the kids,” Eggleton said. “We go to the schools that ask us, take a truck, and let the kids play in it.”

Component manufacturers within the trucking sector also work to get families involved. Tim Frashure, an engineer, has been with Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems for 29 years, and his daughter, Anna Frashure, got involved with the company when she interned from 2011-13. She has worked full-time for the component manufacturer for a year as an engineer in the trailer electronics department.

“Bendix has a program for children of employees to be interns during the summer. That is how I started,” Anna said, noting that her brother completed an internship as well.

Tim said it can be helpful to have a parent and child working at the same company. “She might ask a question and, being here for 29 years, I might know the right person for her to talk to or give her a hint, and I learn about a lot of things we’re working on in the trailer group,” he said.

Before having Anna at work, Tim said it was hard to talk to anyone about work at home. “I’d have to explain it for an hour and a half. Now I have someone to talk to,” he said.

 

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