Driving Relationships with the Trucking Industry 

Great Truckers

Trucking

7 Reasons We Love Truck Drivers and Why You Should Too

I’m always glad when Truck Driver Appreciation Week rolls around every September. It’s one short week each year when we try our best to thank the drivers across the country who make our world possible.

In honor of Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I’ve come up with seven reasons why you should thank truck drivers.

1. They keep a tradition that spans generations alive with semi-truck air horn honks

Today, tablets, phones, and other electronics dominate the backseat and often keep kids focused on a screen rather than looking out the window during road trips. Truck Driver Appreciation Week truck driver image with sun shining through the windshield

But what’s one thing that consistently gets kids to pay attention to the world around them? Looking for and asking truck drivers to blow their air horns. Like so many truckers over the years, today’s truck drivers still watch for the familiar arm pump action and indulge their unspoken wish whenever it’s safe and possible to do so.

Thank a truck driver for continuing a tradition that thrills kids (and parents too).

2. Truck drivers draw from their experiences to garner success

Driving a truck across the country is bound to lead to a unique view of our world and life in general. Plenty of truck drivers have used their experiences to reach their goals outside of the industry. Can you guess which of the following actors drove trucks before they were famous?

  • Charles Bronson
  • James Cameron
  • Chevy Chase
  • Sean Connery
  • Rock Hudson
  • Richard Pryor
  • Richard Pryor
  • Viggo Mortensen
  • Liam Neeson
  • Elvis Presley

If you guessed all of them, you’re right! I think that says something about the type of people who work as truck drivers. To me, it says they’re willing to chase their dreams and are capable of achieving them—whether it’s to successfully run a business or become a movie star.

Thank a truck driver for being brave enough to pursue their dreams.

3. Drivers help place three million wreaths on veteran graves every year

It’s true, without truck drivers Wreaths Across America wouldn’t be possible. Every year, truck drivers deliver wreaths so thousands of volunteers can remember fallen U.S. veterans by placing wreaths on graves in over 1,200 participating locations across the country. And that’s just one of the many ways truck drivers give back to the causes they care about.

Thank a truck driver for supporting charities all across the country.

4. Truck drivers see us through the toughest storms

From hurricanes and snowstorms to wildfires and floods, all of these natural disasters have one thing in common: they need relief efforts. Without truck drivers to deliver much needed supplies to devastated areas, bad situations would be much worse. From coast to coast, they’ve seen us through Katrina, Irma, Harvey, Snowmageddon, and so much more.

Thank a truck driver for seeing us through the toughest storms.

5. They’re on the road 14 hours a day for weeks at a time

Those of us with office jobs work between 8-12 hours a day on average. I know the days I have to work 14 hours are rare—not to mention completely exhausting. I can’t imagine putting in 14-hour days on a regular basis. It’s no wonder that both the CDC and OSHA report higher rates of injury and illness for truck drivers than other industries. But it’s their dedication that delivers the products we need every day.

Thank a truck driver for the long hours and the time away from home.

6. Truck drivers invest in safety day in and day out

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, from 1980 through 2014, the number of large truck-involved fatal crash rate per 100 million miles dropped a remarkable 74%. In fact, trucks have an overall crash rate 28% lower than that of other vehicles.

That’s in large part to the extensive driver safety training that all drivers must go through. And on a daily basis, their willingness to plan—for fuel stops, weigh stations, road construction, and weather—all make a big difference in saving lives on our roads.

Thank a truck driver for focusing on safety day in and day out.

7. They move 10.5 billion tons of freight annually

Our country’s truck drivers truly keep our world moving—after all, nearly 71% of all freight moved in the U.S goes on trucks. Thinking of just about any product I use on a daily basis—from my toothbrush to my supper—they all rely on truck drivers. A world without truck drivers is a truly scary place.

Thank a truck driver for delivering the products that keep our world moving.

Truck drivers are the real heroes in today’s world

While the top box office hits feature heroes with superpowers and capes, in my mind truck drivers are the true stars. They deserve to be recognized during Truck Driver Appreciation Week and every week of the year.

Thank a truck driver for the miles they give the rest of us.

Carrier Spotlight 2018: Melton Truck Lines

In our final installment of our 2018 Carrier of the Year posts, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Melton Truck Lines, Inc. They have received the coveted title of C.H. Robinson Carrier of the Year in our 1,000+ tractor size segment.

I can personally attest just how hard everyone at Melton works. They truly deserve the honor of being named one of our Carriers of the Year for 2018.

More about Melton Truck LiCarrier of the Year Melton Truck Lines Incnes

Since 1954, Melton has truly been a leader in the flatbed industry. Over the years, they’ve grown organically from their base in Tulsa, OK, to serve nearly all areas of North America. This includes their significant presence in both Mexico and Canada. Cross-border shipping has quickly become an area where they excel.

Their fleet consists of flatbed and step deck trailers. One of the great things about Melton is that every one of their drivers is ready to handle over-dimensional loads. And Melton has always believed in a strong commitment to safety. They adhere to a strict business model and driver employment standards to improve the safety of their drivers, other people on the road, and the products they transport.

Top three traits that describe Melton

I’ve had the honor of working with Melton for just over five years now and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Since I started working with them, my goal has been to help them find the most strategic opportunities possible. Together we’ve had a lot of success optimizing several challenging lanes for their fleet.

Trying to describe Melton could take me days. If I had to sum them up into three distinct traits that set them apart from other carriers, here’s what I would say:

Adaptable yet dependable

Melton has always responded well to any changes. They always seem able to adjust to last minute load changes, short timelines, and even unexpected weather disruptions. Their flexibility certainly doesn’t diminish their dependability. Because Melton believes in closely monitoring each load they haul, they currently have a 98% on time pick up and delivery record.

Professional and respectful

One thing that truly separates Melton from other carriers is that despite their size, they still manage to create a family atmosphere for all their employees. In today’s world where there’s a true driver shortage, knowing that I get to work with a great company that cares about and respects their drivers is a big deal.

Service above all else

At C.H. Robinson, we often find situations requiring extra work or effort to solve a challenging problem for customers. It’s who we are. And Melton is the same way. Because they care about a shipper’s freight just as much as I do, I know that they will place service at the top of their priority list.

A final congratulations!

In addition to saying congratulations, I also want to thank the individuals at Melton who make my working day so pleasant. You all are so friendly, open, and honest that it always puts me in a good mood.

Congratulations again on being named a C.H. Robinson Carrier of the Year for 2018. You deserve it!

Carrier Spotlight: The Culture at Cargo Transporters

I’m happy to share that Cargo Transporters has once again secured the title of our Carrier of the Year in the 301-999 size segment. They deserve double congratulations as the only contract carrier to hold the title for two consecutive years. I’d say the competition for this award is somewhat fierce, and Cargo Transporters 100% deserves to win again because of their ability to work hard and willingness to always put customers first. Read More…

- Capacity Key Account Manager

5 Ways to Make the Most of High Flatbed Demand

Flatbed Trucking

If you operate flatbed equipment, you likely noticed that demand for flatbed trailers is skyrocketing. Flatbed shipping is typically known for seasonality and variability in demand, but today’s imbalance with supply and demand is overpowering typical market cycles.

What’s causing the demand for flatbed equipment?
Well, it’s a mixture of things. There’s certainly overlap with dry van equipment and some macro trends (i.e., driver shortages, truck utilization, etc.), but the primary drivers are more specific to flatbed equipment:

Outcomes of the ELD mandate aren’t as easily mitigated for flatbed carriers
Flatbed carriers and drivers are feeling a greater impact from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for a variety of reasons:
• Seasonal, project based freight limits opportunities for flatbed carriers to build freight networks and optimize drive time.
• 1:1 tractor to trailer ratios eliminates many process improvements dry van fleets are implementing.
• Pickup and delivery locations are distinct, requiring long dwell times for drivers at job sites, ports, mills, and other unique places.
• Securing and protecting cargo is labor intensive, resulting in decreased drive time and yield to the truck.

Many flatbed carriers are now booking equipment days in advance to plan effectively, have drivers home more, and make better use of drive time with ELDs in play.

Ongoing and future legislation changes add to flatbed demand
The current administration has proposed and already passed legislation that will drastically influence flatbed demand now and into the future:
• Tax reform means corporations are making capital expenditures, which tends to result in flatbed demand for plant modernizations, Greenfield projects, machinery upgrades, etc.
• Ongoing tax breaks for renewable wind energy adds to demand for flatbed trailers in the energy sector.
• $1.8 billion infrastructure bill, while not yet passed, could mean many roads and bridges would require flatbed equipment to deliver materials as they are improved.
• The steel/aluminum import tariff may result in more inland steel production, driving higher demand and shifting capacity away from ports.

Economic and industry influencers
Positive economic trends within specific industry sectors also heavily influence the demand for flatbed shipping:
• Improving oil prices combined with operations that are more efficient mean major oil companies are ramping up their U.S. business activities again.
• Agriculture machine sales are increasing due to global population and aging equipment. Many large industrial and agricultural machines require flatbed trailers.
• Manufacturing continues to see positive trends, resulting in additional demand for many commodities hauled via flatbed.
• Recovery efforts from last year’s catastrophic natural disasters are ramping up as insurance settlements are finalized, meaning strong demand for building materials on flatbed trailers.
Going forward into the remainder of 2018, pay close attention to rail and LTL tonnage, the approaching tropical storm season, and low unemployment rates that make recruiting more challenging.

5 ways to maximize high flatbed demand
1. Openly communicate with shippers
With the seasonal and project-based nature of flatbed freight, it can be hard to establish strategic relationships with shippers. You can still open the lines of communication with the shippers you do work with and offer as much flexibility as possible on ship dates and loading hours. This can help set expectations and create better driver experiences. And the best shippers will openly communicate with you, too.

2. Try many ways to recruit new and younger drivers
Like the truckload industry, flatbed drivers are in high demand. To combat this driver shortage, consider how you recruit new drivers.

A combination of traditional methods such as print, direct mail, and radio, along with more modern tools may offer the most success. Actively promoting on social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) is just one new way to reach out to younger drivers—a hot commodity in our business.

3. Strive to retain the drivers you have
The improving economy means the already tight driver labor force will have opportunities for jobs in other fields, such as construction, that do not require them to live on the road. Once you have drivers, actively work to retain them. Even if pay raises are not possible, certain quality of life changes—like being home in the evenings—can make a big difference in driver happiness.

4. Promote specialized equipment, accessories, and training
This tactic is closely related to open communication. If your drivers have tarps, chains, or a more specialized trailer, make sure that shippers—both before and after booking—know exactly what you have to offer. Have your drivers received special training of any kind? That’s also a positive point to share that can work in your favor. These may set you apart from others who cannot offer the same extras.

5. Work with a 3PL
If finding shippers and freight isn’t your strong point, consider working with a third party logistics provider (3PL). You can utilize the large size and relationships of the 3PL’s network to find freight for your equipment in the regions you want most. C.H. Robinson often helps our contract carriers by supporting their sales force. We can help you find the right freight for your equipment—and your fleet. After all, knowing how to be strategic during high demand is also critically important.

The increasing demand for flatbed capabilities isn’t a fluke
The current imbalance for flatbed supply and demand is here to stay for now. We’ve already seen that demand for flatbed equipment in 2018 defies normal cyclical patterns.

This near-term supply and demand imbalance is going to stick around at least through the “typical” peak season. Predicting exactly when the imbalance will subside is challenging to determine due to the natural (and drastic) ebbs and flows of this space.

Get more information on how you can capitalize on the flatbed shipping market.

Carrier Spotlight 2018: A.N. Webber

I’ve never met more authentic people than my contacts at A.N. Webber. Their straightforward and reliable service makes them a clear leader in my mind. After working with them for 16 years, I’m pleased to announce that they’re our Carrier of the Year in the 101-300 size segment.

They continuously provide capacity solutions for many of our top customers. From drop trailer, committed, and dedicated trucks, they excel in every area. And their willingness to step up for several customers during hurricane relief efforts is also worth mentioning as an example of their excellence. Read More…