Article

One on One with Jerry Moyes, Swift Transportation

April 2012, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Jason Rhyno, contributor

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As CEO and founder of Swift Transportation, the largest trucking company in the U.S., Jerry Moyes knows a thing or two about trucking.
Jerry Moyes is the CEO and founder of Swift Transportation, the largest trucking company in the U.S.
Jerry Moyes is the CEO and founder of Swift Transportation, the largest trucking company in the U.S.
He'll be a keynote speaker at Canada's Truck World show later this month, and here he shares his thoughts on trucking's challenges and opportunities, from the promise of natural gas to finding and keeping good drivers.

When did you realize you were destined for trucking?

My father used to drive for C.R. England, and as a young kid - 5 or 6 years old - I was always in the truck and driving with dad. So I've just always been around trucking my whole life. It was the direction I was going from day one.

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Any lessons you learned in the early days of Swift?

We came up during the years of regulation, when we had to have ICC authority and you had to do it differently or better than the existing carrier to be able to get the authority. With that background, we always ask how do we do it differently and how do we do it better to get the business.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for trucking companies in 2012?

Government regulations. We're just getting bombarded with various government regulations from CSA to different engine EPA requirements. Our costs are going up dramatically, too. I've never been in an era when costs are as high as they are. That's our number one challenge: what we are going to do from a costing side going forward?

Swift has been experimenting with LNG (liquified natural gas). Where are you now?

We're very excited about it. We have three different test projects that we are working on today. One is the Cummins 8.9-liter that is very underpowered, but we're working some dedicated operations where we don't need a lot of power. We're also testing a Cummins 11.9-liter engine that has some great promise.

We're also involved with a company where we are mixing CNG (compressed natural gas) and diesel - a hybrid that we're getting some excellent results on.

We really believe that natural gas is a thing of the future. There's probably a five-year window to get into it. The manufacturers, like Cummins, are just starting to develop their 11.9-liter engines today. I don't know exactly what their time frame is on their 15-liter - probably a year or two behind. But we really think that this industry over the next five years could be close to 50% natural gas.

How should a carrier treat its drivers?

I've been in this business for 45 years and the number one problem has always been drivers. It's not going to change. For us to solve this, we've got to give them a lot more money. It's still a very difficult job, even though I believe the job itself is getting much better because they aren't required to unload like they used to and the equipment is getting so much better.

The offset of that is that we aren't getting the driver that's the old trucker anymore, it's the opposite of that: It's the new kid that's coming off the street. He wants all these different benefits and he's just not willing to work in the way that the older driver is. The industry has to look at that: number one, we have a different driver we gotta take care of - he has different attitudes and different wants - and number two, we gotta pay him more money.

If you could give one piece of advice to a company that was on the cusp of taking its business to the next level, what would it be?

Watch the numbers. You've got to know where you are on a daily basis as far as revenue and miles. Break everything down.

If you could go on a long-haul with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

Well, my dad died 25 years ago and he and I used to drive together. So if I had to select someone, it would probably be my father. It would just be fun to go trucking with him again.

This article originally appeared in Today's Trucking magazine.

Comments

  1. 1. Gary Ledgett [ April 12, 2013 @ 08:28AM ]

    Well mr. Moyes I'm a current driver for swift, I've been driving solo for a year now and I have no real complaints about the company over all and I'm in it for the duration. This is my dream job, my passion, and my lifestyle thank you for giving me the opportunity to live out my dreams.

  2. 2. dennis popielarczyk [ April 30, 2013 @ 10:12AM ]

    Just would like to say thank you, I am a old school driver that will help unload a trk. I am a o/o for swift trans and I always dreamed of becoming a o/o and swift made that dream a reality but in this business there is always going to be ups and downs it is just the business. Once again thank you Mr.Jerry Moyes for this opportunity.I am 58 now I will retire a swift employee

  3. 3. Jack Smothers [ July 22, 2013 @ 04:36AM ]

    I have worked at this company for 9 months now. This company has NO CARE for its drivers and their families. Jerry himself would cut your throat and kill your children if he could make a nickel off of it. But my time here is up. I have found a much better company to work for. I would gladly trade my time at this for a stay in prison. At least in prison an inmate won't lie to you before he kills you. They say there is honor among thieves, well that person never worked for swift. I have slept in my home bed 4 nights these past 9 months. Worked 7 days a week to bring home paychecks of $24.25, $63.66, $32.74, $119.25, $68.77, $143.93. And that was 7 days on the truck with no home time and no breakdowns. So his lying ass is right in saying he needs to pay better. But as long as Jerry needs to buy things like hockey teams and yachts my wife and kids can just starve. Thanks
    For my CDL now I'm going to make some other company a damn good safe employee. Hope you sleep well at night.

  4. 4. Laurie [ December 12, 2013 @ 12:45PM ]

    The equipment sales department at Swift is rude and unproffessional. Owen plays favorites with truck buyers. You practically have to beg to spend your money with them. Bill Martin was wonderful to deal with. Too bad hes been replaced with neverending vacationers who will only sell equipment to their buddies despite the fact other people are willing to pay for trucks NOW. How pathetic. I read Swifts mission statement and code of conduct for their employees. Their equipment sales reps and management should be fired pronto!

  5. 5. pete [ December 26, 2013 @ 04:00PM ]

    remember...you are just a number ...if you make a mistake..or two you are gone...

  6. 6. TJ [ February 11, 2014 @ 09:49PM ]

    well i have a big issue with a few diff areas with swift. i currently drive for them. i lease a truck from them. we are getting screwed out of so much money from swift transportation. get paid 1200 miles but the actual trip is 1350 miles so therefore we are not getting paid the mileage for that 150 miles and no fuel surcharge for that 150 miles.swift transportation is making billions of profit each year by shortchanging their drivers on their miles they are paying them. never get you home when u want. macro 30 choose your load is not worth a crap. give us a load board . but i will end up leaving swift because of the getting screwed out of 20,000 dollars a yr per drive on the low of 13,000 per driver per year of the paying mileage. pay your drivers the actual mileage.on that note. go screw your self

  7. 7. Trewth Hurts [ June 18, 2014 @ 12:33PM ]

    Swift Transportation has had and still has an 80 to 100% turnover rate amongst drivers. The problem is not the younger generation of drivers not wanting to work. The problem is with Swift wanting drivers to live 24/7, 365 days a year, in a truck for wages that when compared to hours worked is not even minimum wage.

    Oh but wait!!! Want to make more money with Swift?? Become a mentor and train a new sucker for Jerry!!!

    Or you can lease a truck from Swift Leasing Co. and pay for their rolling stock.

    Swift Transportation has and will always be a detriment to professional drivers. This company along with the other Norman mafia outfit, CR England view the drivers as scum to be cheated and exploited like slaves. Any old school truck driver knows this and will never work for these companies. They prey on hard working people desperate for jobs.

  8. 8. Barbara [ August 19, 2014 @ 12:47PM ]

    Swift is big company with no heart for there workers this will be my news story for the news paper for all truckers. I have taken many notes on my trip with my husband. Believe me Mr moyes.your neglect for your workers has me wondering if you could handle this job being a trucker no home time 3 hrs to fine a trailer fine one and it is trashed .your planners don't know where to fine them your on rode takes 4 hrsto fine something you driver !manager there lost because no one ever been on a truck looks like to me the number one rule is been behind a seat of a truck to what the hell these men and women go thru how many families have split up because of no home time
    How many lives are gone because of the improper jobs done for there safety
    I know I am small person in your big company but if I ran the hospital the way you run your company then we both would of closed our doors mine is still running because the people were take care of you other hand needs to be revap I would like to see if the board members care to here why your losing workers why your trailers are trashed why your terminal need to be closed down until there looked at you have people taking money from by not doing there job if you want to be the best then get off you high chair and get out and look at your drivers get look at your terminal ask questions fine the right answer to a negative you brought to this company
    Do you really care. As for your terminal board of health should make a visit

  9. 9. Mike [ September 05, 2014 @ 09:26PM ]

    I went through most of the training with Swift but didn't finish. The trainer was awful. Yelling at me from minute one of my behind the wheel. I told him he needed to control himself and that just set him off. Long story short he told me privately he would not pass me, no matter what. I'm so glad it turned out the way it did. All the friends I made at the Academy had an awful time working for Swift with very low wages and little home time. Swift is unconcerned with its employees, the backbone of its business. Don't work for this company if you have any other choice.

  10. 10. barbara [ October 29, 2014 @ 01:43PM ]

    Really jerry you bought this terminal in Houston tx I have taken pictures of your terminal they dirty smell look like bums live there bathroom dirty smell like mold I bet you losing cyotes don't have locker this discussing so I told you that the board of health in each state will be called you need to get off your behind and come down here or if can't in which I even do it you care check them out you can even park in jurupe .you need a woman to clean up from your boys that is screwing it up I would love the job at least I know going to the bathroom it would be clean you make trucking look bad you care about your people then give a place where it safe and clean and don't forget about the heath department they can close things down

  11. 11. Michele [ November 01, 2014 @ 02:22PM ]

    I have a big issue...
    My son went to your academy in Richmond. He went there with his L.P. in hand. He had never driven a stick shift or been in a vehicle larger than a minivan. He passed his 5 tests that were given the first couple of days there. Then 1 morning, him and 8 other greens were taught to shift and strength back. The instructor had his way with them, yelling, screaming and cussing at them if they did things wrong. Then the instructor adjusted the mirrors for "him" and wouldn't let the students adjust for them. They went to lunch that day and when they came back they had 2 tries to pass the straight back. Oh, no lines just imagination. My son was close, but was not passed. He was sent home and told that he could try again if he had $750 cash.

    What is this way of teaching called? 4 hours for 9 people....then send over half of those home cause the task was impossible in the short amount of time and resources?

    I would like to know if I can please get an immediate response.

    Thank you

  12. 12. Barry [ November 26, 2014 @ 06:23PM ]

    Good Lord, never seen so much vitriol! I got with Swift after a horrendous experience with C.R. England (so I understand some, if not all, of your complaints), and yes, it was a bumpy start (no room at hotel first night of orientation), but Swift had stood by and backed up everything they said and told me they would do. My situation may be a little different from others as I'm a recent widower with no home to speak of, but I find the hours, miles (and most important of all), the money to be quite satisfactory ($800 to $1200 a week, take home, if you must know). Yes, the Houston terminal leaves something to be desired, and yes, I too have heard some horror stories about training, but if you READ the article (...he wants all these benefits, but is just not willing to work for them), then really it all comes down to Just How Bad Do You Really Want Something Better For Yourself. For me, Swift has provided just .that.

 

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