Bruce Blaise leads a large trucking fleet in the heart of the Rust Belt. In fact, as CEO and President of Kenan Advantage Group, he’s in charge of the largest tank truck transporter and logistics provider in North America.
FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller sat down with Blaise to discuss his company’s strengths and the current issues facing the industry as part of the FreightWavesTV show, “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
North Canton, Ohio-based Kenan Advantage Group (KAG) operates from approximately 300 North American terminal and satellite locations, according to its website. With a fleet of around 7,000 trucks, KAG proclaims itself as the only independent fuels delivery carrier with a nationwide network, with operations in 40 states and the ability to provide services within all 48 continental United States as well as parts of Mexico and Canada.
Blaise believes that KAG is an attractive company for those wanting jobs in dedicated driving.
“We’re advantaged because a lot of our business is dedicated, it’s out and back. In fact, with almost half of it, the average length of haul is only 35-40 miles, so drivers show up and work shifts, so it’s really like working at a factory,” said Blaise on the daily routine of KAG’s drivers.
Blaise continued, “You’re not out over the road, for the most part, you’re working local. A lot of over-the-road truckload drivers and others that are in a more long-haul type segment, we attract those guys. After they spent multiple years out on the road, they want to be closer to their families. So we do have an attractive offering that helps, but even with that and retention, it’s a competitive marketplace out there.”
Driver retention is a key factor in keeping KAG’s operations running smoothly. Blaise stated that it’s important that he spends his time building relationships with his drivers.
“We have worked really hard to develop a great relationship with our drivers. I’m not your typical CEO. I spend most of my time with either customers or out with our drivers and really try to connect with them regarding the purpose of the company and we feel like we’re really making a lot of progress,” said Blaise on ensuring the well-being of KAG’s drivers.
Along with maintaining strong relationships with its drivers, the company prioritizes safety as its overall goal. KAG is responsible for transporting chemicals, fuels, food products, industrial gases, as well as other specialty products daily. According to KAG, its largest sector is Fuels Delivery, transporting over 26 billion gallons of refined petroleum products and renewable fuels nationwide every year.
“After 9/11, we brought in an ex-FBI executive to really steward our security program because let’s face it, we are transporting fuels and flammables, and some really bad stuff if you will,” Blaise said.
The company’s mission statement is ‘Our mission is to take every load, deliver it on time, without incident.’
Safety is a major concern for Blaise because accidents can result in severe repercussions for the company. Lawsuit settlements against major carriers have increased sharply over time.
On the impact of damaging lawsuits in the industry, Blaise stated, “It’s a challenge for sure. If you look at the insurance markets today in transportation, especially in hazmat, because of some of the nuclear verdicts that are being awarded out there, they’re actually pulling out of the transportation space. With our size…we work very globally and strategically to make sure that we have a good insurance column in place. It is a concern.”
With that being said, Blaise hopes to prevent lawsuits altogether by instilling accountability companywide.
“We work that side of the business extremely hard because if you can prevent incidents, then you don’t have that necessarily to deal with,” said Blaise on his commitment to promoting a culture of safety.
“Good safety does reduce incidents,” Blaise added.