ALEXANDRIA , Va. – After months of nominations, interviews and scoring, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and CarriersEdge have announced the 2012 winners of Best Fleets to Drive For, a survey and contest that identifies North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers.
This year’s winners include Best Cartage, Kernersville, N.C.; Bison Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Boyd Bros. Transportation Inc., Clayton, Ala.; Celadon Canada, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; D.J. Knoll Transportation, White City, Saskatchewan, Canada; Don Hummer Trucking, Oxford, Iowa; Erb Group, New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada; Fremont Contract Carriers, Fremont, Neb.; Gordon Trucking Inc., Pacific, Wash.; Grand Island Express, Grand Island, Neb.; Kriska Holdings, Prescott, Ontario, Canada; Landstar System, Jacksonville, Fla.; Motor Carrier Services, Northwood, Ohio; Paramount Freight Systems, Fort Myers, Fla.; Sammons Trucking, Missoula, Mont.; Steelman Transportation Inc., Springfield, Mo.; Tennant Truck Lines, Orion, Ill.; Trimac Transportation, Houston; WTI Transport, Inc., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Yanke Group, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
In addition, five companies have been identified as “Fleets to Watch” (honorable mentions) for demonstrating innovation in their driver programs, including American Central Transport, Liberty, Mo.; Epes Transport System Inc., Greensboro, N.C.; Liberty Linehaul Inc., Ayr, Ontario, Canada; Melton Truck Lines, Tulsa, Okla., and TimeLine Logistic International, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
The next phase of the contest is to announce the highest scoring fleets from each of two categories — Best Overall Fleet for Owner Operators and Best Overall Fleet for Company Drivers — at the TCA Annual Convention, March 4-7, 2012, at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla.
The nomination process for the fourth annual contest began in the fall of 2011 when company drivers and owner operators were asked to nominate carriers that operate 10 or more trucks.
After confirming the validity of the nominations and the trucking companies’ desire to participate, CarriersEdge interviewed human resources representatives and executives of the nominated fleets about their corporate direction, policies, and programs. Nominated fleets were evaluated against a scoring matrix covering a variety of categories, such as: total compensation package, including base pay, bonuses, vacation, and sick day allotment; health benefits; pension plans; professional development opportunities such as training and coaching programs; career path/advancement opportunities; commitment to employee personal growth, including work/life balance, driver family support and employee-directed charitable contributions; commitment to continuous improvement; including dispute resolution processes and inclusion of driver feedback in policymaking team building and driver community development activities; annual driver turnover rate and efforts to improve it, and fleet safety record .
A selection of each fleet’s drivers was also surveyed, with its feedback compared to management’s and incorporated into the final score.
The responses were then tallied, resulting in the selection of this year’s winners and honorable mentions.
“For 2012, we saw a heightened level of interest from the nominated fleets. It seems that everybody wants to be named a Best Fleet to Drive For. Some folks even called us before we began interviewing just to double-check that we had their current contact information. It was the virtual equivalent of camping out overnight for concert tickets,” Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge, said
TCA’s leadership is not at all surprised by the fleets’ enthusiasm.
“We saw a 35 percent increase in the number of fleets that not only agreed to participate, but completed all their interviews and paperwork on time to make it to the final segment of the competition,” said Gary Salisbury, TCA’s 2011-12 chairman and the president and chief executive officer of Fikes Truck Line at Hope, Ark. “But I have to say it’s not easy to become a Best Fleet… it takes serious thinking outside the box and a willingness to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of life for your drivers.”
TCA officials said the best practices that surfaced from this year’s winning fleet interviews indicate trends that many in the trucking industry will want to note. For example, more fleets seem to be offering drivers profit sharing as part of their compensation packages. Also, fleets appear to be replacing their traditional safety-based bonus systems for more comprehensive programs. Although safety is still a critical component, today’s drivers are also being rewarded for their performance in areas such as fuel efficiency, on-time deliveries, and maintaining current training.
The survey found that company drivers are driving the same number of miles and earning about the same income as last year. For owner operators, miles are also flat, but income has increased by a scant 5 percent.
“One might think that as the economy improves, a driver might earn more, but, surprisingly, these statistics appear to show otherwise,” Murrell said. “Fortunately, the drivers at our winning fleets still have high driver satisfaction levels, as a result of well-balanced program offerings.”
When it comes to continuing education, today’s drivers seem to have many different and more flexible options than in the past.
Nearly half of the fleets surveyed said they are offering tuition reimbursement for drivers who take accounting, management, or similar programs at a college. They are also making a better effort to send drivers to conferences and trade shows and to help them earn various professional accreditations.
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