Quest for Quality Awards | Transport America Drivers Play Key Role in Quest for Quality Award

Transport America earns number one spot for second time in four years

Lots of companies win awards.

But there aren’t many awards out there where a customer’s vote tells the world, or at least, the rest of your industry, that you’re doing more than okay; you’re the best at what you do, based on their actual, real-life experience in working with your company and its employees.

That’s what’s behind the Quest for Quality Award, which is announced each year by Logistics Management magazine, a trucking industry magazine whose readers primarily Quest For Qualityinclude corporate logistics managers and directors. In other words, the people that hire companies like Transport America to move their stuff around North America.

Each year, more than 4,600 logistics and supply chain professionals vote on the performance of trucking companies, big and small. The Quest for Quality Award goes back three decades and is regarded as the industry’s most important measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. So winning it, is a big deal.

Choosing top performers in categories such as motor carriers, intermodal services, airlines, ocean carriers, freight forwarders, third party logistics and ports, Logistics Management readers rate carriers on on-time performance, value, information technology, customer service, and equipment and operations.

“The reputation of our entire company, from our drivers to the president, is on the line in the award selection process,” says John Mooney, Transport America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Each vote for Transport America is a vote based on the valuable relationships we’ve built over time with our customers. The underlying foundation of those relationships is our performance. Our drivers have played a huge role in that process.”

According to Logistics Management, Transport America ranked number one in on-time performance, value, information technology, and customer service — out-scoring the competition and placing number one among dry freight carriers.

This award represents the third time within the past five years that Transport America has won a Quest for Quality award and it’s the second time that the company was named the “best in the dry freight category.”

“Our customers are telling us and the rest of the industry that Transport America is leading the pack in terms of performance, value and customer service,” says Mooney. “That’s something we’re very proud of, and it sets a new bar of excellence for us.”

For Transport America drivers the Quest for Quality Award is another indicator that Transport America is hiring and retaining exceptional drivers, and that the effort in developing a culture that promotes strong, open partnerships between Transport America drivers and their fleet leaders is working.

“A lot of factors have to come together to win the Quest of Quality Award,” Mooney adds. “It’s clear that when we put all the right pieces in place and we show up with our “A” game attitude, Transport America wins hands down.”

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Pulling Over

At Transport America, our drivers are the Captains of their Ships. And that means making the call to pull over when driving conditions are not safe.

 

Blizzards and closed freeways are usually associated with the Midwest, Northeast and the Rockies, but in February 2014, Transport America driver Dan Becker found himself pulling over in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places.

“It was a terrible ice storm! The worst ice storm that anyone could remember for a long time. Everywhere you looked — cars and trucks were stuck on the freeways. It shut down Pulling OverAtlanta and most of the state for at least two days,” says Becker. “There was no doubt in my mind that I had to get our truck off the road. Fortunately, I was able to pull into the Transport America service center in Atlanta.”

Driving for Transport America for more than 17 years, the past 14 years as one of the company’s trainers, Becker pulls over with confidence when the weather gets bad, knowing the entire company, supports his decision.

“A lot of other trucking companies give it lip service,” Becker says, “but at Transport America, we really believe it. Whether its bad weather, fatigue or sickness, our company respects us as professional drivers. They expect us to use common sense and make the call.”

Gary Falldin, Vice President of Safety for Transport America, says “The ‘Pull Over’ policy is a cornerstone value at the company. Nothing we do is worth endangering the life of our drivers or the motoring public. Ever. If it’s even a question, safety always wins out.”

The policy, which has been in place for some time, really differentiates the company from its competitors, according to Falldin, who joined Transport America six years ago.

“We came to realize that many trucking companies give a ‘wink’ to this policy and tell their drivers to go through with the delivery even in poor weather conditions,” Falldin says. “I was at one of the major small package delivery companies for 25 years and the drivers where pushed to drive in all weather conditions – it’s not like that at Transport America, the driver truly does have the final say on what is safe.”

It’s a policy that pays for itself, says Falldin. Drivers not only respect the company more, but Transport America customers come to respect the company for two things: placing a high value on life and safety and ensuring the integrity of their load.

“It goes without saying,” Falldin says. “Of course a customer would rather have their load delivered a little later and completely intact than having it involved in an accident.”

To aid Transport America drivers in making smarter decisions while on the road, the company sends regular updates about severe weather.

“We don’t want drivers who take chances at Transport America,” says Falldin. “We want drivers who value safety and don’t drive when they are tired, not feeling well, or in bad weather conditions.   We want drivers who truly care about their own safety and the safety of others on the road.”

And that’s a message that resonates with Becker and the new drivers with whom he’s entrusted in preparing to driver Transport America’s distinct red, white and blue trucks.

“My wife is one of those people who is really thankful that Transport America is the kind of trucking company that not only has this policy in place, but really lives by it,” Becker says.

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Driving for Change

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

— Alan Watts, British philosopher

 

At Transport America’s headquarters, located along Highway 13 in Eagan, Minn., it’s just another typical day. Employees arriving early for the day shift; employees working dispatch overnight leaving for home. While the lobby is quiet, you feel the energy of this place awaken as everyone gets into their rhythm and focuses on the day’s work.

While the focus of the day is moving loads, solving problems as they arise, such as dealing with a bad storm moving across Iowa, and making sure the company’s drivers are safe and where they need to be, you can feel a momentum among the people. Transport America isn’t a company that stands still.

If you’ve been involved in the trucking industry for any length of time, then you know that it is continuously changing. New technology, more regulation, traffic congestion, and an increased emphasis on driver professionalism are just a few of the many factors that are reframing the industry.

“We’ve re-committed ourselves to being a different kind of trucking company,” says Keith Klein, president for Transport America. “You can let change happen to you, or you can be a Driving for Changegame changer. In my mind, there’s only one option: Transport America is, and will be, the trucking company that is changing trucking.”

Over the past 16 years that Klein has contributed to the growth and leadership of Transport America, the trucking industry has experienced a number of important structural changes. While walking the halls at Transport America, Klein rattles them off:

  • Trucking deregulation in the 1980s increased competition among a bunch of small trucking companies, which paved the road for trucking companies to get larger and further removed from their drivers.
  • More driver regulations over the past 15 years have dramatically changed the driver experience in terms of safety, record keeping, tractor and trailer maintenance, and much more. Some of these changes have placed a large burden on the drivers themselves in terms of their personal conduct and behavior.
  • Traffic congestion continues to be an issue. Better road and traffic technology continues to be developed to move freight more swiftly and safely.
  • New technology, from more advanced real-time, in-cab telecommunications to better made trucks (less road noise, more creature comforts, anti-rollover technology, collision prevention features), to advances in software and IT systems (logistics technology, payment technology) have made trucking safer, more efficient, and more productive.

Recently, Klein and the Transport America leadership team met to discuss these and other changes that are shaping the trucking industry. They began to compile a list some of the changes that Transport America has made to make the trucking industry better.

“By the end of the day, we collectively built a list of more than 80 changes that we’ve made over the past 15 years that have made Transport America and the trucking industry better,” noted Katie Talcott, vice president of operations. “When we put it on paper, it made us realize that our mission to be a leading driver of change throughout the trucking industry is very real.”

Earlier changes included Transport America’s “Pull Over” policy, which puts the decision to pull over in the event of bad roads, fatigue or sickness squarely in the hands of its drivers. Other significant changes included the introduction of its $ure Pay system, which enhances the accuracy and efficiency of paying drivers, and the implementation of collision prevention software technology.

“But what we’re most proud of is creating a new type of trucking company,” says Klein, “based on a family-oriented culture in which we manage for excellence. Unfortunately, a lot of trucking companies still manage their operations and drivers through fear and intimidation. We’ve learned that if you put the focus on fleet leaders and drivers working together to solve problems through better communications, you create a new, positive, entrepreneurial culture.”

“It’s been a big paradigm shift for us,” Klein added. “By focusing on our drivers and doing everything we can to help them be successful, we in turn, are serving our customers better. Our customers see our drivers more than anyone else at our company. Our drivers are Transport America’s ambassadors.”

Embracing that mindset has meant that Transport America has had to make some hard choices over the years. From investing heavily in training and education for its drivers and fleet leaders, to letting fleet leaders go who were having a difficult time in treating Transport America drivers with a greater degree of respect and trust, represent just a couple of those big decisions that have come to separate Transport America from its competitors.

But, no matter what challenge arises, Transport America remains steadfast in its vision and values. It’s that level of clarity that’s essential to tackling the numerous challenges facing the trucking industry in the years ahead, from a change in regulations that may allow 18-, 19- and 20-year olds to drive over-the-road trucks across state lines to driverless trucks, which are being tested by Freightliner in Nevada.

“I want to see a culture of problem solving and innovation,” Klein says. “We want everyone in our company – including our drivers – involved in change. I view dollars spent to better help our drivers share their ideas with our company as a wise investment in bringing better solutions to our customers.”

To obtain more driver input, Transport America has instituted a number of programs, from a Driver’s Council, with rotating positions that allow for drivers to visit the company’s headquarters in Minnesota to better understand how the company operates, to an open-door policy that allows for changes to be shared through the company’s fleet leader system.

“We have a five-year vision and plan for Transport America,” Klein adds. “We are going to be very intentional about our drive to make the trucking industry better, starting with ourselves. We’ve set the expectation that we will not allow change to just happen to us, but instead, we will embrace change and go the extra mile to make the changes we feel are not only necessary, but critical.”

So, that’s what the typical, day-to-day normal is at Transport America: making meaningful changes to move the trucking industry forward to a better place. Everyone is invited to participate.

Let’s go.

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The Trust That Builds Teamwork

There’s no more important link than the relationship between a Transport America driver and his or her fleet leader. Learn why Transport America places such an important emphasis on these relationships.

Football season is right around the corner, and Larry “Big Country” Russell hBuilding Trust 2as an analogy he’d like to share. He’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. His wife, Leitha, who rides with him and serves as his business manager, is a New Orleans Saints fan.

“We view our relationship with our fleet leader, Darrin Corbin, as a partnership. He’s the quarterback. I’m the running back. Leitha’s my coach. To make it work, there’s constant communications between us. After every play, we huddle and go through the next game plan.”

What makes it all work is respect and trust, says Big Country. “As we’ve gotten to know each other, we understand what’s going on in our lives. We know when we’re having good days, and we know when we’re not having good days. We motivate each other. That’s what makes it special, and that’s what makes it work.”

“We’re like PB&J with Darrin!” Big Country exclaims.

Big Country is like a lot of new Transport America drivers. He joined the company a couple years ago and has found that things are a bit different at Transport America. Different as in “good.”

“What’s different about Transport America is that they know you by your name. They treat you like a real person,” he says. “They treat you like family.”

That’s exactly what Katie Talcott, a 17-year veteran of Transport America, wants to hear. Building Trust 3Having worked her way up from the night shift in customer service, today Talcott is Vice President of the Solo OTR division at Transport America.

“The relationship between a solo driver or a team like the Russell’s with their fleet leader is the most critical link in our company,” Talcott says.

The secret, Talcott says, is finding the right people to serve as fleet leaders, who typically work with about 30 to 35 drivers or teams per person (fleet leaders who work with new drivers typically work with about 20 drivers/teams).

“Our customers want their loads delivered safely and on time,” Talcott adds. “They understand what makes Transport America different – entrusting their loads to smart, safe drivers who will do the right thing to protect their loads.”

That means Transport America needs to be very picky about its fleet leaders. Along those lines, the company invests heavily in the training and nurturing of its fleet leaders. While a third of the fleet leaders in the solo division at Transport America are former drivers, that doesn’t mean drivers automatically make for the best fleet leaders. It’s important that fleet leaders have the the mindset of managing a group of people, values the importance of honesty and integrity, delivers information in the right tone, and takes the time to really get to know their drivers.

“There’s a real art to being a fleet leader and developing working relationships with Transport America drivers,” Talcott adds. “You really have to want to get to know our drivers. That’s our expectation.”

Darrin Corbin, who joined Transport America four years ago, is Big Country’s fleet leader. As a former UPS driver and the former owner of a small delivery business, he “gets” Big Country and Leitha, as well as the other 34 drivers with whom he works.

“I’ve learned that at Transport America, it really is different. It may be a job, but we treat each other as equals working to solve problems together,” says Corbin. “It’s all built on Building Trust 1trust.”

The difference, Corbin explains, is that there’s an expectation throughout the company that you will get to know each other and treat each other as people first.

“The Transport America culture is about caring for each other,” Corbin adds. “We care enough to know our drivers by their first name. We take the time to actually get to know what’s going on in each other’s lives. We’re encouraged to have a meal with our drivers and meet with them face to face. That’s a lot different than what goes on at many other trucking companies.”

Transport America currently employs about 40 fleet leaders, who bring a range of experience to the company. While the company provides lots of training opportunities, Corbin says, learning from other, more experienced fleet leaders has been tremendously helpful. Sharing what works and what doesn’t is critical to newer fleet leaders such as Corbin.

“Sometimes, I just sit and listen to other long-time senior fleet leaders such as Dean Patterson and Bob Volpe,” says Corbin. “They listen carefully. They ask questions. They realize that every driver is unique and has good ideas to share.”

In our stressful, high-tech age built on speed, the day-to-day working relationship between Corbin and Big Country matters. Anyone can pick up a load and deliver it, explains Corbin. But not every company can promise those loads will be delivered by professional drivers who feel appreciated and listened to.

“We’re raising it to another level,” Corbin says. “That’s the Transport America way.”

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The Techs Behind the Trucks | Keeping Transport America Moving

Do you think trucks just hit the road day after day and simply need to fuel up once in a while? Well, think again. Hours of hard work take place behind the scenes to keep our trucks on the road and a great team of technicians is essential to making that happen. Transport America relies on talented technicians such as Christina Haug, a Lead Technician at our Maintenance Shop in Eagan, Minnesota. Christina knows firsthand what it’s like to be a technician for Transport America verses working for the other guys and in her eyes, Transport America is second to none.

In the fall of 2013, Christina joined Transport America as the first female technician in the entire company and was on the fast track to success. After almost two years, Christina left Transport America in February of 2015 for a job closer to home. She found a new transport-america-techs2employer that offered her a similar schedule and compensation but Christina quickly realized that something was missing and that was the atmosphere of Transport America. It was less than 6 months since she had left but Christina found herself back at Transport America as the 1st shift lead technician. According to Christina, she chose to come back due to the abundance of opportunities and potential for career growth. Christina said she enjoys the fact that Transport America continuously offers educational courses whether online or in a live classroom and encourages all technicians to continue mastering their craft.

Of all of the perks that come with working at Transport America, Christina’s favorite part of her day is the satisfaction of getting drivers back on the road. As a lead technician, she is responsible for working with dispatchers, drivers and technicians in prioritizing what needs to be accomplished. On any given day, you can find Christina working on a truck or assisting with troubleshooting a problem. Needless to say, things can get busy around the shop. Christina proudly states that even though it’s a busy environment for the team of technicians, they effectively work together to always get the job done.

Not only does Christina help with the day to day functions at the Eagan shop but she has also developed strong working relationships with technicians in Transport America’s other locations. Such as Jim Coen, a Lead Technician in our North Jackson shop. Jim has been transport-america-techs1with Transport America for over six years and chooses to stick around due to the variety in his day to day projects and constant new challenges that come with the role. According to Jim, “It’s always changing – from troubleshooting check engine lights to routine preventative maintenance; each day is completely different from the last.” When we asked Jim if there were any downfalls to his job, he joked “sometimes I get a little too dirty.” As a technician, Jim knows that getting dirty is part of a hard day’s work.

Are you interested in joining the Transport America maintenance team? If you enjoy working in a fast paced environment, have a positive attitude and are open to learning new skills and challenging yourself, then Christina and Jim both encourage you to “Just go for it!”

Eager for additional information? Visit our website to learn more. Or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube for more information about the trucking industry.

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Transport America at the Great American Trucking Show

Are you ready for the Great American Trucking Show? Held in Dallas, Texas each year, the event is one of the largest of its kind, offering workshops that cover driver health and great-america-trucking-showfitness, education seminars and outlooks and expectations on the trucking industry. There will be over 500,000 feet of exhibit space, and of course, Transport America is excited to be part of this year’s show to talk to drivers looking for their next great career opportunity.

During the show, be sure to stop by TA’s booth (10056), located in the Recruitment Pavilion of Hall E. We will have recruiters from all divisions of the company and will be accepting and processing applications right on site! We’ll be handing out approval letters on the spot to qualified drivers.

In addition, we have some fun in store. Come try your hand at Black Jack within our booth for your chance to win prizes such as FitBits and mobile phone chargers. Also, all TA applicants at the show will be entered into drawings for a chance to win model trucks.

New to GATS this year is a Beer Garden sponsored by Truck Path App. Each day, a different local brewery will be featured with 3 different beers on tap. Check out the featured brewers by clicking here.

Be sure to register online to attend for free! Or pay $10.00 onsite for admission. While you’re at GATS, download the show’s app to help you learn more about the education seminars and maneuver around the exhibits to locate TA’s booth quickly.

Interested in learning more about employment opportunities at TA? Check out our dedicated job website and talk with other truckers on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

See you at the Great American Trucking Show this week, August 27-29!

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Nights and Weekends at Transport America

Trucking at night is a crucial part of Transport America’s operation, and we know how important it is to support you throughout the ride. Whether your drive time starts at 1600 or 0400, we are here from the first light to the last light and everywhere in between.transport-america-support-shift
Recently, Isaac Contreras, the Manager for Extended Coverage, sat down with us to provide insight as to what goes on during non-business hours. Isaac began his career with Transport America back in February of 2010 as a recruiter and quickly progressed into a fleet leader role. More recently, for the past 2 ½ years, he has been working with you on nights and weekends managing extended coverage.

Have you ever wondered what Transport America’s extended coverage team does during the night and weekend shifts? Here are 5 things you may not have known about us:

  • Did you know we average over 6,200 phone calls a month between our fleet leaders and customer service managers? That’s a whole lot of “Hello” and “Drive Safe” conversations we have with our drivers, but we would not have it any other way. There may be times when our skeleton crew will get tied up taking care of everyone, but do not be discouraged; we want to take care of all issues and assist in any way we can to make your night easier. We only ask that you keep safety top of mind and never call us while you are driving!
  • Did you know all four branches of the military are represented on nights and weekends? As Isaac said during his interview, “That’s right. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are here to serve.” We are honored they have chosen to be a part of Transport America and help represent our extended coverage team.
  • Did you know the fleet leaders working nights and weekends are handpicked due to their talents and abilities to handle a large workload? Your messages will never go unanswered because the number one goal is to make sure all of our drivers are taken care of adequately.
  • Did you know that of the 20 fleet leaders on the extended shift, 14 are qualified to cover HazMat verbals? According to Isaac, “We work hard to make sure everything is done right the first time, but please never hesitate to call in and double check that you are operating legally.”
  • Did you know we welcome and love to see visitors? When you make your way up to the Eagan terminal, do not hesitate to stop in and see us in the corporate office. We look forward to meeting the folks who keep Transport America running. Give us a heads up so we can greet you at the door!

To learn more about how ­Transport America works with you (no matter the time of day), please visit our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube for more information about the trucking industry.

 

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Choices at Transport America

The life of a professional truck driver is full of choices; the routes you take, your choice to be safe, your choice to deliver on time.  At Transport America, our truck drivers have job opportunities that provide them careers locally, regionally, dedicated, team and over-the-road.  Transport America truck drivers have the ability to choose their work, their region, and their time at home.   Begin doing what you love – driving a truck, then make your choice from there – with Transport America.  Just view this video, and make your choice as a professional truck driver.

To learn more, please visit the Transport America website. Then, find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube for more information about becoming a professional truck driver.

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Professional Truck Drivers – Home Time is Your Time

As a truck driver, you should not have to choose between guaranteed home time and making good money. At Transport America, we believe the two go hand in hand which is truck-driver-familywhy we pay in the upper 10% of the industry and make home a priority. We place a heavy emphasis on making sure every driver’s home time needs are taken into account no matter what time of year it is. Here is a look at what you can expect when you drive for Transport America:

  • Your family comes first: We understand that life happens and some situations are out of your control. If you have a family emergency and need to get home without delay, Transport America not only makes sure that you get there quickly but we also make sure you are given the adequate amount of time to tend to that matter.
  • You have access to Get Home Certificates: Transport America provides drivers with “Get Home Certificates” that can be used once per quarter. The certificate is provided to guarantee home time without delay. No questions asked, no explanations needed, the certificate is your express ticket to home.
  • Every employee works to make your home time possible: While the office staff may not fully understand what it is like to live on the road, everyone can appreciate the importance of sleeping in your own bed on a regular basis. From fleet management to customer service to planning personnel, the back office respects your need for home time and creates a schedule to satisfy your needs.
  • Special requests are considered: If you have a unique situation, such as a child with special needs or an ill family member, and you need to stay closer to home, we do our best to accommodate you. If approved, your routes will keep you within a certain radius of home so you can get back quickly when needed.
  • Systems are built around home time: Drivers can view upcoming home time from in-cab calendar displays. This keeps everyone on the same page regarding time off.
  • Success is measured by home time: Transport America places such a heavy emphasis on home time that we measure success not only on our ability to make timely deliveries, but on meeting driver home time needs as well. We are proud to have little to no losses associated with drivers not getting home on time.

We empathize and understand that one of the most difficult parts of being a driver is the time spent away from home; which is why we focus so much energy into getting you home more frequently than most trucking companies. Luckily there are numerous ways to stay in touch with the ones you care about most while on the road. Click here to read some great ideas on how to communicate with family and friends while you are away.

To learn more about how ­Transport America puts drivers first, please visit our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube for more up-to-date information about the trucking industry.

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Fuel for Thought | Transport America’s Outstanding Drivers Help Secure Victory

transport-americaEach year, Logistics Management, a magazine that reaches over 100,000 logistics professionals, runs a customer poll called the “Quest for Quality” to determine the best of the best in transportation. For the third time in five years, Transport America has won a transport-americaQuest for Quality award, and we are truly blown away by the support from our customers. You may be wondering why I am announcing this achievement on our driver blog, but our drivers are the foundation to our success, and we would not be considered for such an award without YOU, our outstanding team of drivers and here’s why …

  • Each day you set out to make deliveries and because of your dedication to safety and your commitment to staying on schedule, we are commended on our on-time delivery performance.
  • The customer may communicate with a dozen different people within Transport America, but when it comes down to the delivery of their product, you are the person they work with face to face. You may consider yourself “just the driver” but we know you play a very large role in why we receive high scores in customer service.
  • During a make it or break it customer crisis, you are flexible to change your routes, reschedule your home time or pick up extra slack. While we rarely ask you to make such drastic changes, you do so willingly and save the day for a load that would otherwise go to a competitor.
  • You work closely with your fleet leader and form a strong relationship. The conversations go beyond scorecard metrics and safety tips, and you allow the fleet leader to know you on a personal level and learn about your hobbies or grandchildren. This may seem like mundane conversation, but the trust you build with your fleet leader plays a large role in the service you deliver. A company can provide an abundance of bells and whistles to attract drivers but to ensure success at the end of the day, a driver must enjoy working with their fleet leader.

transport-america-awardThe Quest for Quality Award names the best of the best in transportation; similarly, we set out to hire only the best of the best in professional drivers. I would like to thank you, our drivers, for your help in achieving this prestigious award again this year. Without your commitment to Transport America, we would not be acknowledged for our performance in on-time delivery and outstanding customer service and value.

Do you have a story about a time you went above and beyond for a customer to ensure ultimate service? We would love to hear about it. Please share it with us on Facebook or send a tweet to @TAdrivers!

transport-america

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