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Small Fleet recap: How to lead in times of turbulence

Bottomley Enterprises exec talks rising equipment costs, recruiting techniques and leading with confidence

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ Small Fleet & Owner-Operator Summit on Wednesday.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Conquering obstacles in today’s trucking

DETAILS: Ken Kaelin, president of Bottomley Enterprises in Mount Airy, North Carolina, joins Ingrid Brown, host of FreightWaves’ AMERICA on 18 Wheels, in a fireside chat to talk about trucking in the economy today. They address the rising costs of operations, recruiting and retention problems all small fleets and owner-operators face today. Bottomley Enterprises is a 120-plus fleet that is growing, and you’ll find out how it is overcoming obstacles to success.

SPEAKERS: Ken Kaelin, president of Bottomley Enterprises, and Ingrid Brown of AMERICA on 18 Wheels

BIO: Kaelin has served as Bottomley Enterprises’ president since 2019. Previously, he has held sales leadership roles at transportation companies including Schnedier National, Saia Inc. and Con-way Freight.


On rising costs of equipment from OEMs:

“[The prices] really don’t look the same despite having the same vehicle being delivered. Same thing for the trailer, refrigeration units and any of the components, those parts that need to be replaced or repaired.”

On recruiting and retention: 

“When thinking of recruiting [problems], I used to fire out of my mouth, ‘driver recruiting’ but I think it’s now all recruiting needs. To have the best talent, whether that’s the person in the driver seat, dispatch seat, customer service, back office, you name it, there is a unique strategy that needs to be developed by every leader in every company. That is making sure you are giving the best possible experience.”

On advice to fleet executives in turbulent times:

“First, have no fear. Secondly, believe in yourself. Lastly, know your costs more than anyone else. When you have those things, you have the best chance for success.”

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Grace Sharkey

Grace is an entrepreneur and former supply chain executive who has held positions in sales, operations, and consulting. She is passionate about the future of the industry and how technology can improve the experience for all supply chain members. She believes supply chain is the one industry that affects every human directly, and is looking forward to creating content that mirrors that sentiment. If you have a story to share, please contact me at [email protected]