LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trucker Path is getting into the dispatching business, creating a unit that will compete with the army of private dispatchers servicing owner-operators and small fleets.
Kicking off the Mid-America Trucking Show here, the first gathering of the large truck show in three years, Trucker Path CMO Chris Oliver said the initiative would begin with roughly a dozen dispatchers. They are full-time employees of Trucker Path and cannot remain independent dispatchers while also managing loads for the company.
The fee for a dispatcher is 5% per load, Oliver said.
Rates in the market range from 4% to 15%, “depending on the level of services,” Oliver said. “We think for our level, 5% is very competitive.”
Oliver said every user of Trucker Path Dispatch will be assigned an individual dispatcher, who “will source and find loads and negotiate rates. But before that happens, there is an interview that takes place and the dispatcher will talk to [the drivers].” During that conversation, the Trucker Path dispatcher will learn everything about the driver, from how long he or she likes to be out on the road to favorite taco joints.
Where Trucker Path Dispatch believes it has an advantage is that its dispatchers can integrate the planning the dispatcher constructs into the Trucker Path app, Oliver said.
Asked if there are other companies like this, Oliver said most dispatchers are single-person operations or possibly a “mom-and-pop shop.” (A search of the web does turn up several dispatchers that are more than single-person operators, though few are advertising a team of a dozen or more, which Trucker Path is beginning with and plans to grow further.)
He added that Trucker Path Dispatch, in looking to grow, can offer current dispatchers a full range of benefits, such as health insurance and a 401K plan, as an enticement to leave individual dispatch in favor of joining a team. But he added that an independent dispatcher that joined Trucker Dispatch would not be able to dispatch loads on the side, even for long-term clients.
In a media briefing at MATS, Oliver talked about the billions that have gone into FreightTech but have often missed benefiting small operators. In the prepared release about the formation of Trucker Path Dispatch, the company’s CEO made a similar point.
“The trucking industry has received tens of billions of venture and private equity investment in the past decade with very little supporting the individual driver,” CEO Joe Chen said in the statement. “Smaller carriers and owner-operators often don’t get the same competitive advantages achieved through technology that larger carriers and brokers get.”
Dispatching has at times attracted federal scrutiny. The Transportation Intermediaries Association last year filed a petition with FMCSA requesting that a clarification of rules be handed down that would deal with so-called “illegal dispatching.” The TIA was seeking better definition on what constitutes a dispatcher, which is not a licensed profession, and a broker, which is.
It was that issue — that of broker versus dispatcher — that Oliver was questioned about at the press conference. “We will not be brokering the freight at all,” he said. “The relationship is really between the broker, shipper and the driver. The only financial transaction we’re involved in is our 5%. What Trucker Path Dispatch does is, after the job is finished, we will then charge our customer separately.”
Oliver added that Trucker Path originally thought about taking a larger role in the transaction but decided otherwise.
“We initially thought about handling all of the money, then taking our bit and remitting the remainder to the driver,” Oliver said. “But the more we thought about it and researched it — it seemed way too messy.”