FTC Transportation, Inc. (FTCT) doesn’t operate to fill its trophy case with safety awards. Instead, this company’s fleet of trucks are on the highways completing a mission. Doing it safely is simply part of the company’s culture.
“We don’t work safely to win awards,” said Emory Mills, director of safety and driver education for FTCT. “We work to be safe.”
That doesn’t mean the company’s safety achievements go unnoticed, however. During the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) annual convention, FTCT was honored with the 2023 National Fleet Safety Award for small carriers.
Based in Oklahoma City, FTCT consists of just 25 trucks and a total of 33 employees. While FTCT acts as a broker and freight carrier, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of — and the leading carrier for — Feed the Children, a nonprofit founded in 1979.
Feed the Children operates five hubs across the U.S. that ensure access to food for communities that need it most, and FTCT handles deliveries and transports in the lower 48 states. In 2022, Feed the Children and FTCT delivered 87.2 million pounds of food across the country.
Not only does Feed the Children ensure that food shortages are addressed during all seasons, but in the summer, it also addresses a major national problem: Ensuring that children in need have food when school is not in session; when schools are closed, healthy meals are often not available. Feed the Children works to fill that void.
The organization doesn’t just deliver food to help school children. It also distributes teaching supplies to schools in need. In fact, in 2022, it provided classrooms with $3.8 million in teaching supplies and $5.3 million in books. And, again, all of it is partially thanks to FTCT.
“You might say that Feed the Children is the reason for our existence,” said Mills, noting that the organization began building its fleet of trucks in 1986.
FTCT’s employees are proud of what this small group of dedicated individuals is able to accomplish.
We have 25 drivers, two mechanics, and six administrators — and all have completely bought into (a culture of) safety,” Mills said. “It starts at the top and carries throughout the organization.”
Unlike many carriers, FTCT does not operate its own driving school; instead, it depends on finding experienced drivers to fill openings. The fact that the carrier has won recognition from TCA as a “Best Fleet to Work For” for several years running probably makes recruiting rather easy.
“We require that our drivers bring two years of safe driving experience with them when they sign on with us,” Mills said. Those drivers are fully vetted before they ever arrive for orientation at FTCT.
“We want the best of the best as drivers, and it all begins with our hiring process,” she said. FTCT’s human resource team is just as concerned with safety as any other employee of the company, and it’s their job to find potential employees with impeccable safety records.
FTCT does have a mentoring program in which new drivers learn the ropes of the company — including its culture — by teaming with an experienced employee. During this process, new employees meet with the entire FTCT team, from the company president and each department head, as well as fellow drivers.
By the time they complete the orientation and mentoring process, new FTCT drivers understand how important safety is to the company. In fact, it’s so important that in 2022 the company logged over 2.3 million safe driving miles. Its drivers also had perfect safety records in 2020 and 2021.
The culture of safety extends beyond truck drivers: FTCT has an equally impressive record when it comes to the safety of mechanics, administrators, and drivers who might be involved in non-driving accidents.
Of course, a carrier doesn’t win TCA’s safety award based on just a one-year record; it’s a safe bet that award winners have been recognized as being safe by more than one organization. This is certainly the case with FTCT. It has won the Grand Trophy for safety among small carriers four times and has been named a leading safe carrier on eight occasions. FTCT has also won the Oklahoma Trucking Association’s Grand Trophy for safety six out of the last nine years and has been recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Highway Safety by the organization for twelve years running.
It’s not just safety that makes FTCT stand out among the TCA membership. The company has been named to the Best Fleets to Drive For list 11 straight years and has been part of the Best Fleets to Drive For Hall of Fame the past two years. The carrier has also been named an EPA SmartWay High Performer. Employees of the company have been honored with their share of awards for individual achievements as well.
For a trucking firm with the important mission of serving as “wheels on the ground” for Feed the Children, these accolades only serve to increase the pride in a job well done.
“As a small trucking firm in Oklahoma, we are just honored to be on the radar,” Mills said.
Photos courtesy of FTC Transportation, Inc.
Since retiring from a career as an outdoor recreation professional from the State of Arkansas, Kris Rutherford has worked as a freelance writer and, with his wife, owns and publishes a small Northeast Texas newspaper, The Roxton Progress. Kris has worked as a ghostwriter and editor and has authored seven books of his own. He became interested in the trucking industry as a child in the 1970s when his family traveled the interstates twice a year between their home in Maine and their native Texas. He has been a classic country music enthusiast since the age of nine when he developed a special interest in trucking songs.