Welcome to the latest edition of the Melton OpenLine newsletter. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and welcome the New Year with ambitious goals.
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate our Driver of the Month, Jeffrey Granat, and Rookie of the Month, Ryan Whitehurst. Your efforts are admired and appreciated.
As we reflect back on 2019, the year was full of both challenges and successes. With a slowing manufacturing sector, we endured a slowdown in freight availability. However, I want to assure all of you that the state of our company remains strong and is built for steady, conservative growth. Our leadership team is never complacent and is always looking for new ways to improve our performance. We have been through slow freight cycles before and will exit this one stronger.
Despite the challenges faced in 2019, we were able to offer our drivers a generous pay increase in October and our fleet was able to reach a record of 1,328 seated trucks in December. Furthermore, our company was once again selected as one of Oklahoma’s Top Workplaces thanks to the spirit and culture of our wonderful employees. I am thankful and appreciative for our successes and look forward to many more in 2020.
In Maintenance department news, we will purchase 510 new trucks this year with 255 being Kenworth T680’s and 255 being Freightliner Cascadias. We plan to trade 440 of our existing trucks to keep the age of our fleet in line with our high standards. Going forward, all trucks will be equipped with battery-powered APUs that will provide A/C and electrical power for the sleeper. Also, automatic engine start systems will be installed to help ensure the batteries remain charged. A diesel fired heater will heat the cab and sleeper. Finally, our Birmingham shop is in the final stages of preparations for full operation. Early this year, we will have a trained crew and gorgeous facility ready to serve our drivers.
We have made some changes to our driver bonus structure for 2020. We changed our PRIDE Performance Bonus to now be a Fuel Bonus. The PRIDE Performance scorecard you currently receive will still be used for rankings such as the Top 100, Elite Fleet, Rookie of the Month, and Driver of the Month; however, we will now base quarterly bonuses off of our Fuel Bonus criteria. Driver can earn up to an additional $1,500 per quarter under this new bonus structure. For more information on eligibility, payouts, and goals, please click here or visit the Driver Resources menu on your Melton app.
In other Safety-related news, our training and orientation programs are slated to grow and improve in 2020. It is our goal to provide a state-of-the-art training process for drivers entering our fleet, especially recent CDL graduates. There will be expanded training on load securement for the many different products our customers ship. Also, our Road Trainers program is seeing significant growth and we expect this trend to continue. We look forward to seeing the positive impact from these strengthened training efforts.
Please remain weather-aware throughout this winter season. Numerous hazards can arise with colder weather such as fuel gelling up, slick road conditions, and low visibility. Please use extra caution and contact your Driver Manager if at any point you feel it is unsafe to be on the road. You are the ultimate decision maker when it comes to shutting down due to poor conditions. We trust your judgement and recognize that safely delivering freight is of utmost importance.
Please follow up on your iCare PHA Screening results. If your results suggest a lifestyle change such as smoking cessation or blood pressure medication, please act on this appropriately. I encourage you all to bring in the new year with a goal to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Our Benefits department and Wellness Manager have several resources available for you.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2020,
Chairman and CEO