The editors of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine have announced the 2016 HDT Truck Fleet Innovators, four fleet executives being recognized for their leadership and forward thinking in areas such as driver recruiting and retention, fuel economy, maintenance and more.
Each year, HDT's editors sift through nominations from the industry as well as consider the fleets they have come into contact with throughout the year to single out three to six fleet executives who have consistently shown innovation in areas such as leadership, productivity, business practices, safety, maintenance, spec'ing, technology, human resources, fuel efficiency, the environment, and so on.
The four 2016 winners will be profiled in the March issue of Heavy Duty Trucking, and will be honored during the MATS Fleet Forum immediately preceding the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., on March 30, where they will participate in a panel discussion on industry issues.
This year's honorees are:
Joyce Brenny, president and CEO, Brenny Transportation, St. Cloud, Minn.
Brenny’s fleet may be small, with about 50 power units, but she has big ideas. She started in trucking as a driver before moving up the ladder to fleet management and then launching her own company, in 1996. To help fill the seats of Brenny’s asset-based operation, she has developed a graduated training and mentorship program designed to smoothly bring – and keep – younger drivers in trucking. “Our training and mentoring program is extensive and detailed to give ‘under 21’ drivers the confidence they need to operate successfully and safely,” she says. Brenny’s research on employing and advancing younger drivers is being studied by the American Transportation Research Association.
Randy McGregor, Fleet Manager, Transway Inc., Holland, Mich.
Transway is a for-hire carrier operating about 100 trucks in the Northeast and central U.S. A couple of years ago, when fuel prices were still high, McGregor led an aggressive effort to modernize the fleet to become a leader in fuel efficiency, taking it from mpg in the sixes to the mid-nines in two years’ time — and he believes his latest truck spec will be pushing 10 mpg. Extensive research and testing has helped him develop a combination of spec’ing and driver training that has allowed him to run 6x2 axle configurations on all power units, despite operating primarily in northern-tier states. At the same time, the company has made great strides in safety, using the latest safety technology and driver training.
Gerald “Gerry” Mead, senior vice president of maintenance, U.S. Xpress, Chattanooga, Tenn.
One of the early truckload pioneers to take full advantage of deregulation, U.S. Xpress has a long history in leading innovative efforts (founders Max Fuller and Pat Quinn were part of HDT’s inaugural Innovators program in 2006), and Mead has taken it up a notch. Mead, who started his career as a diesel mechanic in the U.S. Marine Corps, has worked for a veritable Who’s Who of trucking, including P.A.M. Transport, J.B. Hunt, Yellow Freight and Walmart. Whether it’s crunching data to determine a total fluids cost per mile (not just fuel), testing solar panels to help handle “hotel loads” on trucks, being on the forefront of beta-testing new fuel-savings technology, or building a highly motivated team of technicians, as U.S. Xpress’ first senior VP of maintenance, he is pushing the top execs’ mantra of innovation throughout the equipment spec’ing, management and maintenance arena for the 6,000-truck fleet.
John Sliter, president and COO, V3 Transportation, Brunswick, Ohio
Sliter’s innovative approach to driver recruitment and retention helped the expedited carrier he and V3 CEO Bob Poulos launched with “two cellphones and two laptops” three years ago to rank among the fastest-growing operations in its field. Contending that “drivers were being under-served in the expedited market,” he has put in place programs that “treat drivers as importantly as we do our customers— because drivers drive revenue.” For example, Sliter developed a highly collaborative and transparent “recruiting experience” that involves the owner-operator and/or the fleet owner he drives for on the front end “so they feel they are part of the solution, not just one component in the process.”