Twenty carriers have been named to the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge 2021 Best Fleets to Drive For list. This year’s Best Fleets includes four carriers new to the list and 16 carriers that were also named to the 2020 list.
Produced by CarriersEdge, in partnership with TCA, Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey and contest that identifies the for-hire carriers providing the best workplace experiences for their drivers. All the carriers will be honored during TCA’s convention — Truckload 2021: Las Vegas — being held Sept. 25-28 at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Two overall winners in the large and small fleet categories will be announced at the conference. The overall winner awards are sponsored by EpicVue and TruckRight.
Nominations for the 2022 Best Fleets to Drive For are being accepted through Oct. 31.
Truckload Indexes will profile fleets in this year’s top 20 prior to Truckload 2021: Las Vegas. Answers have been edited for style and brevity. The entire list for 2021 is available here.
Fleet: Central Oregon Truck Co.
Central Oregon Truck Co. (COTC) operates 320 trucks and has 285 drivers among 350 total employees. It primarily hauls building materials across the 48 contiguous states and Canada.
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What does it mean to you to be among the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For?
LUKE WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT: “It means that we are succeeding at moving toward our vision and mission of the company to be the top carrier to our employees and customers. It also means that we are staying on top of innovations and improvements for our driving team for them to nominate and answer surveys in a way that they believe we are the best fleet to drive for.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What do you consider your strengths when it comes to recruiting and retention of drivers?
WILLIAMS: “Drivers are part of the team at COTC and they are treated like a teammate, not a third-party provider or a necessity; they are part of the team.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What are some of the unique programs and processes you’ve implemented over the last 12 months to improve the lives of your drivers?
WILLIAMS: “We implemented two big improvements. The first is a driver mentor program for our new hires. The second is a new telematics system that is easier for our drivers [to use] and provides better visibility through our driver app in all aspects of their work life.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What is the messaging about your company that you try to convey to your drivers and potential drivers?
WILLIAMS: “We work together and our goals are aligned. Because of this, they are part of the team and a very important part. With COTC they are a person and not a number.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What tools/strategies do you utilize to maintain lines of communication with drivers?
WILLIAMS: “[We provide] 24/7 availability to multiple departments, a driver Facebook page, weekly breakfast with management, podcasts, newsletter and driver advisory boards for each department. There is coaching with driver mentors to communicate concerns or ask questions for their group of drivers and phone calls for important news and events where we all take a certain number of drivers and call them so that everyone gets called and gets communication that day.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: How do you approach driver training?
WILLIAMS: “We approach driver training with education in mind. Rarely does someone do something the wrong way on purpose, so we have to not only teach how to do it in the future, but teach why to do it that way through educating drivers.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: Do you provide a driver career path? If so, can you explain?
WILLIAMS: “Drivers can move up to multiple positions in the company if that is what they choose. Those options are dedicated lanes, special equipment, driver trainer, driver mentor, driver coach, mechanic. We have had former drivers become chefs in our deli and our facility manager as well.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: Within the annual Best Fleets process, the driver surveys are a crucial part of the scoring process. The results of these surveys can validate or invalidate the interview and questionnaires. What were some of the comments or results from this year’s survey that you took note of?
WILLIAMS: “We have not received our survey results yet this year. However, in the past the thing we look for more than positive or negative comments are the actionable comments and ideas, things we can tweak to make better or things that may be broken that we can fix or good ideas that we can create programs around. Both our driver advisory and our driver mentor programs were recommendations from the surveys in the past.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What advice can you share with other fleets when it comes to driver management and becoming a destination for drivers?
WILLIAMS: “A good management process will be evident when employees self-manage. Employees will eagerly self-manage when they feel heard, valued, respected and rewarded for their hard efforts.”