SMALL trucking companies that survived the past few years during a receding economy are reaping the benefits today after juggling rising insurance rates, driver shortages, and diesel prices, said David Owen, owner of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, a for-profit company.
“Today, we're enjoying the fruits of you surviving the perfect storm,” he told members of the International Milk Haulers Association at the annual convention in June in Nashville, Tennessee. “Even if the companies are small, they have proven they are good business managers. It's the best time to be in the trucking industry since 1986.”
Milk haulers have a higher likelihood of survival because they are usually small, family-owned companies based in rural areas where they have a better chance of finding and retaining drivers. Business and personal expenses also may be less than for trucking companies set up in urban areas, he said.
At the same time, Owen pointed out that 400 trucking companies per week receive authority to operate and just about about 12-20 are still in business a year later. Failure comes from being too small to generate enough revenue for profit. In order to stay in business, companies must keep expenses under control, obtain working capital, and expand their markets and fleets.
One of the major keys to success is recruiting and retaining drivers — and then acknowledging their efforts. “The driver is the only employee that actually produces revenue,” he said. “Do anything you can to make the driver's life better.”
He also advised milk haulers to limit a dispatcher's responsibilities to 20 trucks for greatest efficiency.