All That's Trucking

This Company Says It's Giving Truck Drivers a Voice – And Great Deals

HDT Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge visits with One20 and TruckThat founder Christian Schenk.

April 7, 2017

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Christian Schenk, center, with the One20 team, which aims to give drivers the tools and discounts that will help make their lives easier. Photo: One20
Christian Schenk, center, with the One20 team, which aims to give drivers the tools and discounts that will help make their lives easier. Photo: One20

Christian Schenk is on a mission — to make drivers' lives better. His company, One20, is a free membership-based service that aims to improve truck drivers’ lives on the road, delivering everything from product discounts and truckstop reviews to electronic logs — for free — while sister operation TruckThat is an online driver community that “gives drivers a voice for demanding change.”

Schenk previously was with Xata, which changed its name to XRS and later was bought by Omnitracs. His new venture has experienced huge growth in the past year, he told me in an interview at at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ryan Barnett, senior VP of corporate growth and development, pointed out a video playing at the MATS booth of a driver saying, “We’re looking for someone to do something for us, not to us.” Barnett, who worked with Schenk at Xata, commented that as an industry, “we’ve developed software to optimize [drivers], but nothing to help them.”

One20 and TruckThat tap into the feelings of drivers who believe they’re under-appreciated and misunderstood, bedeviled by ever-increasing regulatory hoops to jump through that they feel do little to truly improve safety, much less their own lives or jobs.

“Truckers are in the DNA of the product,” explained Schenk.

For instance, right before the show, One20 announced its promised ELD — named F-ELD. While the company says it stands for “free, functional, and fully compliant,” there’s little doubt from the twinkle in Schenk’s eyes that it really is a play on what a lot of drivers and owner-operators think about the ELD mandate, which requires a switch from paper logs to registered electronic logging devices by this December. And in fact, the advertising for the product essentially says, “Just because the mandate sucks doesn’t mean your ELD has to.”

A busy year

One20’s MATS booth was in the Pavilion, out past the West Wing at Mid-America. If you’ve ever been to the Kentucky Fair & Expo Center for this show, you’ll know that the West Wing is far away from the big truck and trailer booths of the South Hall. It’s a spot heavy on driver-centric booths and entertainment, sprinkled with antique trucks and more.  Last year, Schenk launched the TruckThat online driver community here, “with a goal of giving professional drivers a way to call BS on everything that sucks in the trucking industry.” Armed with a T-shirt shooting air cannon, a 5-ton, 6-by-6-foot army truck and two dozen kegs of beer, industry veterans launched a community that has grown to well over 100,000 in under a year. And there are another 130,000 members of One20, with only about 4% overlap between the two.

“TruckThat LLC is shining a flashlight on the greasy undercarriage of the trucking industry."

As described by the company, “TruckThat LLC is shining a flashlight on the greasy undercarriage of the trucking industry and giving drivers a voice for demanding change.”  The community can be accessed online and through several social channels, including Facebook and Twitter, and this year at MATS the company announced an app. The TruckThat app is available for download from the Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets, with an iOS release for iPhones and iPads to follow soon.

The app integrates with Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram, and www.truckthat.com. In-app picture posts will automatically push to the TruckThat website and feature the #truckthat hashtag. For instance, Schenk as an example showed me a shot he posted on the app of a billboard near the expo center advertising legal services to people who had been in truck wrecks. TruckThat app users also will also be able to benefit from the deals and discounts available to One20 members.

Meanwhile, Schenk announced they will start publishing TopOne20 reports, which will compile data generated from drivers. The reports will highlight ratings and reviews for points of interest, such as travel centers and restaurants, and for things like restroom cleanliness, parking availability and staff friendliness and knowledge.

In addition to spotlighting the good, bad and ugly, One20 said the reports will allow it to work with affiliates and partners to fix problems highlighted by negative reviews.
The reports also will compile driver demographics and spending and purchasing habits. All this, the announcement says, will “tell a story that until now has never been told: how drivers really feel about the businesses that serve them.”

As Schenk explained, “Every day, drivers are up against dirty showers and restrooms, overpriced, bad-tasting food and a lack of parking. Our TopOne20 reports will help drivers find the places that feel a little bit more like home and offer an all-around good experience. Professional driving is hard enough; the least we can do is tell drivers where they can find a friendly smile and a meal that tastes like home cooking."

The TopOne20 report has also identified the most-purchased items in the trucking industry, and a price comparison across multiple retail channels. The most purchased items are, on average, 37% more expensive at travel centers than the same products online, it found.

In response, One20 is launching an Amazon store to sell these items to members cheaper, via the My One20 app. First up in the store? Energy shots. If you look at a list of the 25 most purchased items, 10 of those items are energy shots, according to One20. And the markup on energy shots at truckstops, Schenk told me, is one of the highest they’ve found in their research.

Even though truckstops are in a sense a customer of One20, because their sponsorship and discount offerings to members help drive the product, Schenk said he’s not worried about directly competing with them in the energy shot business. It’s all about what’s best for the drivers.

“The balance of power is not there,” Schenk said. “We want to be their advocate.” If the trucking industry won’t pay drivers more, he said, “we’ll reduce their cost of living,” whether that’s energy shots or ELDs or consumer products. “We want truckers’ kids to go to the movies and pay less.”

Shining a light

"For a nation founded on the principles of opportunity, we've sure made it difficult for the hard-working trucker to prosper as a business owner and operator."

And that’s not all. Schenk’s team is reaching out beyond the trucking industry with a documentary, The Secret Lives of Truckers, which focuses on breaking stereotypes and revealing what it's really like to live life on the road.

It will highlight the diverse community that is drivers, and not only on their work but also on their families and their passions: Men and women whose travels have fueled a creative outlet, minorities whose encounters with discrimination have prompted them to work for social justice, and regular Joes who have courageously rushed toward danger to save the lives of strangers.

"These are the stories we'll tell – the stories of America's invisible, everyday heroes," Schenk said. "The documentary will serve as a further catalyst for change in an industry that's disrespected all too often.”

As he told me in Louisville, the documentary is interviewing not only truckers, but also non-truckers to ask them what they think about truckers. Many of the terms used are not flattering — lonely, dirty, etc. “But everyone has no trouble clicking ‘Buy Now” and expecting to have it delivered in three days.” By truckers.

And Schenk has gotten an even more up close and personal look at how hard it is to be in trucking: One20 started its own trucking company, getting its own authority from the FMCSA as a legal operating, property-carrying motor carrier.

“We started One20 Trucking Co. LLC to learn about trucking,” he said. And learn they did.

One20 has started its own trucking company to get a better feel for the challenges facing small fleets. Photo: One20
One20 has started its own trucking company to get a better feel for the challenges facing small fleets. Photo: One20

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "For a nation founded on the principles of opportunity, we've sure made it difficult for the hard-working trucker to prosper as a business owner and operator. We shopped for insurance for more than a month, received hundreds of misleading letters soliciting services, fielded dozens of phone calls from product providers trying to sell us something and jumped through hoop after hoop with federal and state governments. Shame on us for making it so hard, so expensive and so confusing."

Comments

  1. 1. Michael B Rector [ April 10, 2017 @ 05:16AM ]

    Finally, a company thinking about the fate & livelihood of Joe Trucker without the corporate greed we face everyday. Kudos to One20 for their F-ELD launch where you buy the thing one time instead of every month. Thanks.

  2. 2. Jolly Saron [ April 22, 2017 @ 04:30AM ]

    I read your blog, and I literally loved it. We at http://royaltruckingofcanada.com/ also give voice to our truckers and fully take care of our driver's needs.
    Thanks for the lovely post.

 

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Author Bio

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Deborah Lockridge

Editor-in-Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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