Carrier Spotlight of the Month: Pope Trucking
Next month is the one year anniversary of our “Carrier Spotlight of the Month” series on The Road, so we thought we’d mark the milestone by reposting our first featured carrier.
Carriers play an important role in the logistics industry, and that’s why we’re putting the spotlight on some of these dynamic companies each month. This month’s featured carrier is Pope Trucking, a privately-held, family-run flatbed carrier headquartered in Pearson, GA.
In 1978, Clifford and Shirley Pope started Pope Trucking with just one truck. In the 1990s, their three children, William Pope, Audrey Ponsell, and Tracey Brown, joined in the day-to-day operations of the company. They, along with Pope Trucking’s General Manager Paul Darwin—who was once an owner-operator for Pope Trucking in the early 1980s and just recently returned to Pope after a career with Walmart Transportation—kindly gave me a half hour of their time to share a bit of their company’s history and their thoughts on the industry.
What makes Pope Trucking unique?
We feel that we are unique for a few reasons. For one, we began a family-owned, family-run company 36 years ago and remain a family-owned, family-run business to this day. We also try to treat all of our employees and drivers as family. The highlight of the year is our annual Christmas party where we all gather together—management, office, shop, drivers, and our families—and celebrate the holiday. Of course, we would not be a company without our customers, and we strive to make customer service a hallmark of our company.
How do third party logistics providers (3PLs) impact your business?
We do not see quality 3PLs any differently than direct customers. We define quality 3PLs as companies that have good credit, have a good customer base, and are honest and straightforward with good communication between dispatch, drivers, and the end customer. They do impact us in a positive way because we get paid on time, and they help us get into areas where we do not have a customer. Knowing a 3PL has a contact in an area of need is a great benefit—it helps maintain maximum efficiency while servicing our other customers.
When working with a customer for the first time, what are your expectations?
We first need to make sure they are credit worthy. We want to make sure we are working with people of integrity. If we are sending in $140,000 in equipment, we want to ensure we are getting paid. We also take into consideration efficiency of getting loaded, clear communication, and establishing long-term relationships.
If you could change one thing about the transportation industry, what would it be?
The availability of qualified drivers is a major impediment to growth and the service of our customers. With so many trucking companies competing for what seems to be a shrinking pool of drivers, it is difficult to operate at full efficiency.
What should the general public know about the trucking industry?
In our experience, we have found that the people involved in the transportation industry—from drivers to the company owners—are some of the best people in the world. The safety and professionalism of the average driver is matched by none. Trucking “drives” America.
What industry or technology innovations have improved efficiency within your business?
The internet and the ability to communicate with many people at one time in different locations has certainly been a plus. We use QUALCOMM to track our trucks so we can tell customers where their freight is located. I remember when we used beepers to page drivers to call us to report their location. Technology has been a great benefit in improving efficiency with both driver and customer communication. It is a value-add to the customer, so they have peace of mind and know the location of their shipment.
What makes a carrier stand out to you? Share your thoughts in the comment section.