First, I would like to recognize the October Driver of the Month David Sunde and the October Rookie of the Month Ronald Stephenson. Congratulations to both of these fine drivers. I recently attended the trucking industry’s national conference and had a chance to visit with other trucking CEO’s and senior management members.
Whether it’s refrigerated, dry van or flat bed, most trucking companies are experiencing the same difficult freight and driver hiring environment that we are. The economy has just not recovered as quickly as most have predicted and, in my opinion, our political leadership hasn’t helped anything either.
Our West Coast freight is up over 32% from last year, with the average length of haul over 1,400 miles. We have also added some new sales resources to the upper Midwest and Canada regions. We have increased our loads to/from Canada by over 20% in the 3rd quarter with an average length of haul over 1,200 miles. Our over-dimensional load focus is resulting in more freight as well. Remember, hauling OD freight pays drivers an extra 8 cpm, and Canada/ Hazmat loads pay an extra 3 cpm. Since freight levels are not where we anticipated, we know we’re not keeping some drivers as busy as they’d like.
As a result, we are reducing the current size of the fleet by about 60 trucks by the end of this year. After a 51% increase in our truck count since the Great Depression of 2009, I thought it was time to pause the growth in the company, and focus our efforts on finding more freight for the trucks on the road. Melton makes money the same way our drivers do, therefore, it is our highest priority to keep freight levels high for you to safely haul. When you’re moving and freight levels are high, we are both happy.
Currently, we are still developing our equipment plans for next year. We expect to buy 100 larger trucks for our trainers, and sell 100 of our oldest trucks. Hopefully, by not growing the fleet in 2014 and increasing our sales efforts, there will be more freight for you to haul.
In addition, taking a break from growth will allow us to spend more time refining our student program. These new hires need a lot of help and coaching – but they also bring a fresh perspective and a strong sense of safety to our organization. To provide a smoother transition into Melton, we have created a group of driver managers that will serve as the initial contact for our new drivers.
This group of managers will have smaller fleets and more time to answer questions. The Driver Development Team will be lead by one of our Senior Driver Managers, Mike Potter. We believe this change will help new drivers learn our culture and succeed at Melton. I am happy to report that we have reduced our CSA violations for October dramatically. I know that we made some unpopular decisions to address our problems, but I am proud of your work and diligence. Continue to pay attention to speed transition zones and weigh stations.
Finally, we have recently received a lot recognition for our efforts. There is a magazine called Logistics Management that surveys its readers annually and asks them to name their best transportation providers. Each carrier is ranked by this readership in—On- Time Performance, Value, Information Technology, Customer Service, Equipment and Operations. This year, over 6,000 readers responded and Melton Truck Lines was recognized as a winner for the 8th time out of 9 years in our category.
Melton was recently named one of Tulsa’s Best Places to Work for in 2013. In addition, Oklahoma Magazine honored us with the Greatest Companies to Work for award. Finally, Melton earned its 2nd US President’s E award for Export Service for our outstanding international service. I’d like to thank you for your role in making this a terrific company. It’s one thing for me to say “We’re wonderful and terrific”, but another to receive recognition from outside the company.
Be proud of our great company. I am! Until next time, drive and work safely—stay healthy— and thank you for being part of our terrific company.
– Bob Peterson