The trucking business can be a very competitive world, not only for loads to haul but also for experienced, safe drivers to haul them.
Decker Truck Line Inc., headquartered in Fort Dodge, is doing everything it can to hire and retain drivers and give them a safe, comfortable place to work.
Brad Baaed, chief operating officer, stressed the importance of the approximately 800 drivers working on the road.
“Drivers are key here,” he said. “We have a lot of long term drivers. It takes one big team to move the freight.”
Keeping drivers happy, comfortable and safe when they’re out on the road is critical. The company has recently added a number of extras to the trucks to help their home away from home be more of a home.
One of those initiatives is furry and barks.
“We’re allowing dogs in our trucks,” he said.
That actually required an investment. The company created and provides dog friendly areas at each of its facilities.
Michael Erritt, vice president of operations, said a number of drivers have taken advantage of the new policy and now ride with Rover.
“147 of our drivers have the official papers for a dog,” Erritt said.
Drivers also have a new entertainment option for their time on rest breaks.
“We have EpicVue now,” Baaed said. “It’s direct TV that goes into their trucks.”
There’s more. The trucks are being, or have already been, equipped with microwaves, APU units, double bunks, refrigerator and TV. In addition, a host of new features on the trucks themselves will make them safer and the work better for drivers.
The company is taking driver comfort seriously.
“We try to make the truck as close to home as possible,” Baaed said.
Business is also on the increase.
One of the most recent new customers for the company is the Prestage Foods of Iowa plant near Eagle Grove.
“We’ve got a great working relationship with them,” Erritt said. “It’s a growing company and we’re growing with them.”
The summer months are good for the trucking industry in general, he said. Produce, ice cream and construction products move in much greater quantities then.
“It’s a good time of the year for the trucking industry,” Baaed said.
One of the company’s big innovations on the safety side is the use of the SmartDrive system in all of its trucks.
Rick George, vice president of safety, said the event recording system is a great safety tool.
“It integrates with the active systems in the truck,” George said.
He showed a sample of the video the device records. It takes four pictures of the road ahead and the driver in their seat each second. It also records data such as speed, forward facing radar collision avoidance activation, and other critical data.
In the sample video, a truck approaches a vehicle that’s stopped to make a turn. It slows to a safe stop and there is no collision.
It was all automatic, done by the onboard systems.
“The truck did that,” George said. “It’s lifesaving tech. It is truly amazing technology.”
The recordings are used for other purposes. They’ve been used for drivers to defend themselves against citations and in accidents.
“It’s much more reliable than an eye witness,” George said.
The company is also able to use the recordings to help train drivers to be safer on the road.
“It’s helping our professionals become better,” George said. “It’s very much like reviewing a game tape. It’s a great safety teaching tool.”
Decker’s fleet of trucks have a number of safety technologies on board each one, George said. They include collision avoidance, active cruise control, roll stability, speed gauges, lane departure systems and anti-lock brakes.
The most important safety system is the human behind the wheel, though, and George is proud of them.
“We have the best drivers in the world,” he said.
The company recognizes that, too. They have an active driver of the month and driver of the year program for each division and once a year a driver is chosen as the grand champion driver of the year.
Matt Lynch, director of maintenance operations, is proud of the fleet of new trucks the company provides for their drivers.
One of the changes veteran drivers are seeing is more of the trucks being equipped with automatic transmissions.
“Even the veterans are embracing it,” Lynch said. “They feel less fatigue. Less fatigue equals more concentration.”
They have a few more speeds than most cars. The newest are 12 speed.
“They behave a lot like a car,” he said. “They really do perform very well.”
Mar 13, 2019
Nussbaum, Prime Named Best Overall in TCA’s Best Fleets to Drive For
Earlier this morning, during the Truckload Carriers Association's 81st Annual Convention in Las Vegas, TCA and its partner CarriersEdge announced the overall winners of the 2019 Best Fleets to Drive For contest.
Best Overall Fleet in the small carrier category was presented to Nussbaum Transportation, of Hudson, Illinois. This award is sponsored by DMC Insurance.
Best Overall Fleet in the large carrier category was presented to Prime Inc., of Springfield, Missouri. This award is sponsored by EpicVue.
Best Fleets to Drive For, now in its 11th year, is an annual survey and contest that recognizes North American for-hire trucking companies who provide the best workplace experience for their drivers.
To participate, 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.
The Top 20 finishers are identified as Best Fleets to Drive For and then categorized according to size. The highest scoring fleet in each category is named overall winner.
Prime Inc. and Nussbaum Transportation have both been named to the Best Fleets Top 20 multiple times, but are winning the overall award for the first time.
Nussbaum Transportation, operating 400 tractors, combines both high- and low-tech solutions to create a balance across its programs. With an industry-leading scorecard and mobile app, a simple but effective driver outreach schedule, and a formal career path and certification program, Nussbaum has raised the bar in all categories.
For Prime Inc., operating 7,200 tractors, being a large company doesn’t mean losing the personal touch. Its variety of committees, social groups, and educational offerings provide contractors with an ever-increasing range of options for personal and professional development. Notable this year is a new program designed in partnership with Missouri Good Dads to help drivers build and strengthen family connections while away on the road.
CarriersEdge Chief Executive Officer Jane Jazrawy noted that while both Prime Inc. and Nussbaum Transportation provide exceptional programs for their drivers, they also have impressive safety and retention numbers, and satisfaction scores well above 90%.
“For several years, these fleets have been catching our eye with their range of creative programs,” said Jazrawy. “Each year they continue to expand on those offerings, so it’s easy to see why their drivers speak so highly of them, and why they’re achieving such stellar results.”
TCA President John Lyboldt agrees. “Year after year, the overall winners are truly changing the game,” he 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. Prime Inc. and Nussbaum Transportation have done just that. Congratulations to both winners on this well-deserved honor.”
The Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest is open to any fleet operating 10 or more trucks, regardless of TCA membership status. Nominated fleets are evaluated in areas such as: Driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record.
For additional information on the Best Fleets to Drive For program, follow the hashtag #BestFleets19 on TCA's Twitter and Facebook pages, or go to www.bestfleetstodrivefor.com.