Spending 35 years with one company is impressive. For a driver to accomplish that with a transportation company, now that’s almost unheard of.
“I got the sense right away when I started with Ag Trucking in 1984 that they were a family-oriented company that truly cared about its drivers,” said Rick Miller, who drove for the company for 25 years prior to transitioning to his current role as a recruiter for Ag Trucking, which recently was acquired by the Kenan Advantage Group. “The company always had us in well-maintained, quality equipment and made a point to make life easier for us drivers on the road. I actually encouraged my dad to come work for the company, and he did. He spent 20 years driving for Ag.”
According to Casey Stump, Ag Trucking vice president and general manager, maintaining a high level of driver satisfaction is a key component to Ag Trucking’s success. The Goshen, Indiana-based company specializes in hauling foodgrade liquid and construction materials, such as sand and limestone, in all 48 continental states and in Canada. Ag Trucking also has a small regional division dedicated to hauling dry bulk commodities throughout the Midwest.
“We’ve worked hard at establishing a company culture where drivers want to be,” said Stump. “We have several driver-focused programs in place and provide our drivers with Kenworth T880s that are spec’d to maximize driver comfort. We have a number of drivers who have spent more than 15 years driving for us—some eclipsing more than 30.”
Ag Trucking operates 157 company-owned Kenworth trucks, including 120 Kenworth T880s purchased since 2017 from Palmer Trucks–Fort Wayne in Indiana. The majority of the T880s are spec’d with 76-inch mid-roof sleepers, 450 hp engines, and 9-speed manual transmissions.
According to Tim Boehlke, Ag Trucking president and founder, Kenworth vocational trucks have long been a part of the company’s operation.
“Kenworth trucks have played a large role in our business since the very beginning,” said Boehlke, who founded Ag Trucking in 1978. “We’ve operated other truck makes in the past, primarily trucks that we’ve acquired through business deals with companies, but we have always found trucks manufactured by Kenworth to be the best. It’s why our fleet is now made up of all Kenworth trucks. The quality, reliability, and creature comforts Kenworth trucks provide combine on-road performance with high driver acceptance.”
Ag Trucking specs all of its Kenworth T880 76-inch mid-roof sleeper units with refrigerators, inverters, TV mounts, Kenworth Diamond VIT interior trim packages, and other driver-centric options to enhance the over-the-road experience, according to Stump.
“We’re always looking for the latest features and amenities we can spec our trucks with so that our drivers are as comfortable as they can be on the road,” Stump said. “Aside from what we’ve added to our trucks, our drivers have mentioned how much storage space they have in their sleepers. The designers at Kenworth did a great job maximizing the amount of space drivers are able to use on-board. It’s something our drivers are finding to be useful.”
While providing drivers with amenities that allow for a more comfortable stay on the road is key to maintaining high driver acceptance of the trucks in the fleet, Stump acknowledged that operating reliable equipment is just as important. The more the company maximizes its uptime, the more profitable its drivers and the company are. Drivers in the company’s foodgrade liquid and pneumatic divisions easily exceed 100,000 miles per year on the road.
“At the end of the day, our drivers want to be in equipment that they like driving and that is reliable. The more uninterrupted time our drivers are able to spend on the road, the more money they are able to make. Drivers don’t want to be in equipment that breaks down all the time, and we don’t want to accrue the costs associated with that. The Kenworth T880 has been a dependable truck for us.”
According to Stump, the Kenworth T880s enhanced visibility, smoother handling, and quiet cab were a few reasons the company decided to transition into the new vocational model.
With driver turnover a top concern fleets are faced with, Stump said that providing drivers with high quality equipment, combined with other driver-focused programs has helped the company stay well below the industry turnover rate.
“Our Kenworth trucks play a major role in keeping our turnover low and they also assist us in our recruiting efforts,” Stump said. “By providing drivers with high-performing and comfortable trucks, not only are we able to better retain our top drivers, we’re also able to recruit and gain the attention of quality candidates.
“We are able to reduce the costs involved with onboarding new drivers. And when we do need to hire new drivers, we’re able add experienced and safe drivers who will fit right in.”
AG Trucking is on a four-year, or 450,000-mile trade in cycle with Palmer Trucks–Fort Wayne and according to Boehlke, it won’t be long before the company completes its transition to all Kenworth T880s.
“We’re getting close to phasing out the rest of our T800s,” Boehlke said. “They’ve been great trucks for us, and it set us up to make the transition to the T880. We’ve always received high resale value for the trucks we’ve traded in with Palmer Trucks, and our relationship with the dealership is strong. They’re a great partner, and always put us in trucks that provide us and our drivers the best equipment available.”