Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By David A Kolman
Parra has been a real asset to the company, notes Hudson, because he is an experienced long-haul trucker.
“I started driving about 20 years ago,” Parra says. “After about three years, I teamed with my wife, and then we traveled with kids. We home schooled them for a number of years. It was a wonderful experience for all of us.”
“Carl can truly relate to our drivers,” says Hudson. “He is great at providing them with sound advice and helping them with any issues they might have.”
When hiring new drivers, which typically occurs when the fleet expands rather than because a driver leaves, Parra looks for experienced, safe drivers with a stable work background.
During the hiring process, “drivers are told upfront how it's going to be working here, what we expect from them, what they can expect from us, what they have to do and how to accomplish this, and what they can expect from our customers,” says Parra.
All drivers are told early on that “while service to customers is our number one priority, so is service to our drivers. We recognize that driving is not an easy job.”
Once hired, new drivers go through an extensive orientation process, which includes learning how to operate the refrigeration equipment and how this equipment functions.
“Today's ‘smart’ reefers are relatively easy to learn to operate,” Parra says, “so we spend more time teaching how transport refrigeration systems work. We want our drivers to understand how and why air circulation is essential to keeping loads cool. That way, they will know how to load a trailer and not block airflow. We've found that doing this avoids many problems with loads.”
Because Englander Transport runs fairly regular routes and loads, there is no current need for satellite communication systems, says Hudson. Drivers are issued cell phones and call in on a regular basis.
Hudson is looking into trailer tracking systems. “We not only drop trailers at various locations, we are now sharing some of our trailers with another company. This technology might be helpful in keeping better track of our trailers.”
All tractors have driver's displays, allowing drivers instantaneous feedback on their driving. Onboard computers keep track of key operating criteria, such as fuel use, idle time, and rpm.
“We download this information and use it for our quarterly fuel savings and idle reduction programs,” says Parra. “We also pay a quarterly safety bonus.”
The “winners” of the quarterly bonus programs, along with their accomplishments, are posted in the driver's room to motivate better performance. “No one likes to be a loser,” Hudson says.
By managing well what it already does and holding onto guiding principles, Englander Transport has been able to expand business. “We review business at least on a monthly basis to see how we're doing and what we can do better,” says Hudson.
The company recently started freight brokerage. This new operation will enable Englander Transport to continue to keep commitments to customers when trucks may not be available.
The company's vision for the future, Hudson says, is to continue managed growth.
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