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: Wellington Motor Freight
Wellington Motor Freight has 32 trucks, 73 drivers, 56 staff members and operates in Canada and the U.S. with dry vans, reefers, step decks, straight trucks, cargo vans, roll tites (Conestoga’s) and warehousing. Typical freight includes food goods, building supplies, electronics and general merchandise items. Wellington Motor Freight operates alongside sister companies Wellington Supply Chain, Wellington Dedicated Services, Trucking Proz and TPZ Logistics, which collectively make up the Wellington Group of Companies of 400-plus assets.
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What does it mean to you to be among the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For?
MICHAEL Z. ZELEK, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES: “We consider being a top 20 fleet as the highest honor in transportation (with the exception of being named Best Overall Fleet). This was a distinction that we have wanted since the company started and now that we have been named a Best Fleet in consecutive years, it feels like we have earned some recognition from our peers. We will not rest on our recent success and will continue to push for continuous improvement as no fleet is perfect and there is still a lot of work to be done.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What do you consider your strengths when it comes to recruiting and retention of drivers?
ZELEK: “Having driver-friendly runs and paying all of our full-time employees a salary has been excellent for recruiting and retention. Dedicating a full-time staff member to oversee the well-being of our drivers ensures that any issues that arise are dealt with immediately.”
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?
ZELEK: “We instituted a Driver Appreciation Month, where every workday the drivers are given some sort of token to show our appreciation (gift card, swag, cash draw, etc.). We have started to involve our drivers in more company decisions, specifically having them take part in calls with the customer as well as for getting new equipment.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What is the messaging about your company that you try to convey to your drivers and potential drivers?
ZELEK: “That we are the best company to work for, period. We want to be the place that you spend the rest of your career with. Our culture is unrivaled. We don’t employ ‘just a driver,’ we have absolute professionals behind the wheel.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What tools/strategies do you utilize to maintain lines of communication with drivers?
ZELEK: “Text and email is the most frequent line of communication. Social media is getting more and more popular as well.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: How do you approach driver training?
ZELEK: “The average amount of experience for the drivers in our fleet is over 10-plus years. We do not spend time teaching the drivers the basics of how to drive; we teach them the small ways in which to improve. We teach them how to be defensive on the road, how to drive in difficult conditions and we make sure to offer ongoing training.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: Do you provide a driver career path? If so, can you explain?
ZELEK: “Almost 10% of our drivers have become certified road testers since starting with us. We have several hybrid positions for drivers that also work as property managers, trainers and mechanics.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: What advice can you share with other fleets when it comes to driver management and becoming a destination for drivers?
ZELEK: “Everyone at the company needs to buy in to the program. The value of the driver cannot be understated and if their dispatcher or planner does not see the value of a driver, the driver will feel this and will eventually quit. If you want to become a destination for drivers, you have to create an environment that will attract them. Money is always important, but job security, consistent pay and company culture are important too.”
TRUCKLOAD INDEXES: Is there anything else you would like to add that you believe would be relevant?
ZELEK: “Being a Best Fleet is a year-round commitment. You cannot simply try to turn it on for one or two months and then revert back to your old habits. There is a big difference between the perspective of a driver and that of someone in the office. Quite often the best solutions will be when an opportunity is viewed from both perspectives.”