best fleets

Best Fleets to Drive For 2017: COTC and SPD Bring Home Honors

Central Oregon Trucking Company and Smokey Point Distributing Bring Home Honors.

It’s a very enviable award to have in the trucking industry. It says you’re doing things right and your drivers appreciate your efforts.

It’s the hotly contested Best Fleets to Drive For® competition, and Smokey Point Distributing and Central Oregon Trucking Company both made the Top 20. The awards are produced by CarriersEdge, which provides online training to the trucking industry, in partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).

It’s Central Oregon Truck Company’s fourth year in a row winning, and the first for Smokey Point Distributing.  

Drive 4 Five - COTC Best Fleets (1)

They join WTI Transport and Boyd Bros. Transportation as Daseke companies having Best Fleets to Drive For trophies in their lobbies.

Best Fleets to Drive For® is an annual survey and contest that recognizes North American for-hire trucking companies providing the best workplace experiences for their drivers. To participate, fleets must be nominated by a company driver or independent contractor working with them, after which they are evaluated across a broad range of categories reflecting current best practices in human resources.

“This is one of my favorite awards,” says Don Daseke, CEO of Daseke, Inc. “It’s recognition for doing things right on behalf of drivers, and I can honestly say that each of our operating companies do a great job with their drivers – people are our most important asset. It’s wonderful that SPD and COTC were publicly recognized for their efforts.”

CarriersEdge was impressed with both companies.

“The concierge service that Central Oregon has is awesome, and a great way to make drivers feel special when they come into the yard, says Mark Murrell, CarriersEdge VP of sales and marketing. “Related to that, they have a notification system – they know the name of the driver that’s just arrived. Tied in with the concierge it’s a great way to make people feel welcome, and take care of any necessary business without the driver having to chase down different managers. What’s also notable about COTC is that they never stop coming up with new ideas to improve things.

“The reason they keep making the list is that every year they’ve come up with something new, and often something that’s really unheard of in the industry, and they’ve got it working successfully. They are very creative and committed.”

Mark had great thoughts on SPD as well:  “Smokey Point has drivers that stay out for up to 3 weeks, but yet their turnover is very low,” he says. “That’s extremely rare since flatbed companies normally have noticeably higher turnover, and longer haul companies are even more challenged in this area. They had a 91.78% driver satisfaction level — their drivers are pretty happy with what they’re doing. We also really liked how well they communicate, having a weekly driver forum that’s broadcast via Facebook Live so anyone can participate, regardless of where they are. The company also follows up on any action items afterwards so they don’t have issues hanging around unspoken or unresolved.  And, one of my favorite things about SPD is they have a fancy massage chair in their driver lounge to help with lower back issues and general relaxation. I love that it’s so popular that they had to create a dedicated calendar for it!”

For Rick Williams, president of COTC, being named as a Best Fleet to Drive For is never taken for granted. “I am humbled,” he says. “There are many great companies to work for so to be honored in this way is a true tribute to our entire internal staff who work so hard to continually improve conditions and job quality for our driving team. I think it all starts with creating a culture in the office that encourages desire for each employee to have a heart of a servant towards one another.  Then it takes giving people the creative freedom to constantly work towards improving the work experience for our driving team. Being a part of Daseke, and the eight other sister companies, drives us to constantly improve.  Collaboration between the companies often provides great ideas for improving all areas of our individual companies.  Daseke provides the venue and support for all of us to collaborate openly.”

Dan Wirkkala, president/CEO of SPD, says the culture at SPD and at other Daseke sister companies, makes a difference.

“We’re a firm believer that people are what we’re all about. When we built our new building, we had our drivers actively involved – asking them what they wanted to see.  It’s why we have a dog run, more shore power outlets, our TV lounge and massage chair.  And we continually ask what can we do better.”

“We really do,” adds Lee Michaud, executive vice president for SPD. “Dan makes it a point to be on the phone, on a weekly basis, talking with drivers on a variety of topics. That is so impressive, to me. He truly has made this a driver-first company and his communication and openness with drivers is a big part of that.”

When SPD drivers come back to the terminal, they can always talk with any member of the SPD team.  “We have a life coaching program and it helps our drivers map out ways to achieve their goals in life,” says Lee.  “That goes from helping them on how to take advantage of their 401K 4 percent matching benefit, to what’s beyond the driver’s seat, and everything else in between.”

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