Shipper: What’s ‘Good for Drivers is Good For Business’

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Posted on June 5th 2015 7:44 PM

American Woodmark Corporation is building a driver lounge in its Moorefield, West Virginia facility as part of a $30 million expansion project. The free Wi-Fi, refreshments, restrooms with showers, and other amenities in the lounge could rival those of any commercial or private fleet.

Except, American Woodmark does not have any trucks or drivers. It is the largest independent manufacturer of kitchen and bath cabinets in the United States. John Boyer, the corporate transportation manager, says that not being driver friendly in today’s market is risky business for shippers, reports CCJ magazine.

Boyer joined three other panelists at the CCJ Spring Symposium to discuss “building lasting shipper-carrier relationships.”

CCJ reports:

Boyer said his company is looking for ways to improve the experience for carriers and drivers. It has been running a campaign called the Woodmark WAY (We Appreciate You) that is “all about what we can do to make things better for the driver as they move into and out of our facilities, and what can we do to make it better for the carrier to be more efficient.”

Having equipment and drivers flow through its facilities in an efficient manner helps keep costs down, but “it’s also the right thing to do,” he said. The company will soon be adding kiosks in its facilities so that drivers can print out their bills of lading, similar to the kiosks at airports to print boarding tickets, as well as status boards to monitor when their loads will be completed and ready for pickup.

American Woodmark has got the average wait time for drivers at its facilities down to about 30 minutes, he said. This has been possible by pre-loading trailers for drop-and-hook operations. “I think it is my responsibility to make sure that these folks get in and can take a load and get out. We are the controllers of that.”

Creating awareness with customers of problems such as detention time at docks is the first step towards a solution, said panelist Daniel Strong, president and chief executive of Super Service, a regional dry van truckload carrier based in Grand Rapids, Mich. In recent discussions with shippers, the company’s sales team has been focusing heavily on turnaround time.

“I think as we move forward any shipper that is not drop and hook falls to the bottom (of the list) when it comes to whose loads are we going to pick up today,” he said.

Super Service has lowered its timetable for driver detention pay from four to two hours and aggressively increased the amount of drop-and-hook freight in its network. The company has also been successful in working with its largest customers to create more predictable schedules for drivers. Its incoming orders in committed lanes are now more evenly balanced throughout the week.

Jim Ward, president and chief executive of truckload carrier D.M. Bowman, added that despite the many improvements “there is still a lot of inefficiencies in the system today.” And with the industry moving toward full adoption of electronic logging devices, shippers and carriers will no longer be able to make up lost productivity.

“The shipper is buying and we are selling drivers’ hours, and so the more efficient we can be with drivers’ hours, the more efficient the supply chain is going to be.”

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