The nomination process for the third annual contest began in the fall of 2010 when company drivers and owner operators were asked to nominate carriers that operate 10 trucks or more. After confirming the validity of the nominations and the trucking companies' desire to participate, CarriersEdge interviewed human resources representatives and executives of the nominated fleets about their corporate direction, policies, and programs.
Nominated fleets were evaluated against a scoring matrix covering a variety of categories, such as:
* Total compensation package - including base pay, bonuses, vacation, and sick day allotment, health benefits and pension plans
* Professional development opportunities (training, coaching programs, etc.)
* Career path/advancement opportunities
* Commitment to employee personal growth, including work/life balance, driver family support, and employee-directed charitable contributions
* Commitment to continuous improvement, including dispute resolution processes and inclusion of driver feedback in policymaking
* Team building and driver community development activities
* Annual driver turnover rate and efforts to improve
* Fleet safety record
"We were pleased to see that for 2011, drivers nominated 30 percent more fleets over last year. Also, fleet participation [fleets who agreed to participate in the phone interviews] went up by over 80 percent," said Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge. "We had a much higher level of interest, especially from first-timers."
TCA attributes this heightened interest to more awareness of the Best Fleets program. John Kaburick, chairman of TCA and president of Earl L. Henderson Trucking Company, Salem, Illinois, said: "After each contest and survey cycle, we compile and widely publicize the best practices of each winning fleet. The results are a snapshot of excellence. It's only natural for drivers and fleets to want to be a part of this."
The best practices culled from this year's winning fleet interviews indicate some interesting new trends that barely appeared on last year's survey. For example, social networking has become prominent in trucking. A number of fleets have Facebook groups that serve as a foundation for their recruiting efforts online. The benefit is that drivers do much of the recruiting work by answering questions about the company and providing testimonials. Twitter has also emerged as a popular tool, primarily for sharing just-in-time information about weather conditions, traffic, and company activities.
Some fleets also said they are incorporating Google's Street View technology into their standard operating procedures. Street View is used for route planning, and some carriers are making it a normal part of ramping up new customers because they can check out all of the places their trucks will be driving without having to go in person first. Both the Satellite Maps and Street View technologies are also becoming key tools for accident investigations and are quite useful for understanding why collisions took place and what can be done to avoid them in the future.
Twenty companies are being recognized this year (in alphabetical order):
1st Express, Inc. - Toledo, OH
Best Cartage - Kernersville, NC
Bison Transport - Winnipeg, MB
Boyd Bros. Transportation, Inc. - Clayton, AL
Con-way Truckload - Joplin, MO
Dart Transit Company - Eagan, MN
Don Hummer Trucking - Oxford, IA
Erb Group - New Hamburg, ON
Fremont Contract Carriers - Fremont, NE
Kennesaw Transportation - Rydal, GA
Brian Kurtz Trucking - Breslau, ON
MacKinnon Transport - Guelph, ON
Paramount Freight Systems - Ft. Myers, FL
Pride Transport, Inc. - Salt Lake City, UT
Schneider National - Green Bay, WI
Motor Carrier Service, Inc. - Northwood, OH
Trimac Transportation - Houston, TX
Vedder Transportation Group - Abbotsford, BC
WTI Transport, Inc. - Tuscaloosa, AL
Yanke Group - Saskatoon, SK
Following the naming of the finalists, the next phase of the contest is to announce the highest scoring fleets from each of two categories: Best Overall Fleet for Owner Operators and Best Overall Fleet for Company Drivers.
These overall winners will be honored at the TCA Annual Convention, March 13-16, 2011, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and Convention Center in San Diego, California.
More info: www.bestfleetstodrivefor.com.