Spotlight News

Women In Expediting: A Conversation with Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women in Trucking

November 7, 2016

Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women In Trucking

Over the past few months, we’ve shined the spotlight on the importance of the role that women play in Expediting. As more women enter into the industry, their skills and talents have become essential to building and maintaining successful businesses for many Expediting teams.
As a proud supporter and sponsor of the Women In Trucking organization, Expediter Services, is honored to feature in this issue of Spotlight News, the foremost advocate for women in the trucking industry: Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women In Trucking, to get her insights concerning women in the industry, and the new opportunity for women offered by WIT and ES.
Learn more about Women In Trucking.

SLN: Tell us about the Women In Trucking organization?
Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is a nonprofit organization formed to increase the level of women employed in the trucking industry.  Specifically, our mission is to encourage the employment of women in trucking, address obstacles that might keep women from either entering the industry or succeeding within the industry, and to celebrate the success of our members.  We were formed in March, 2007 and have grown to include nearly 4,000 members in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  Seventeen percent of our members are men who join because they support our mission.
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SLN: What was your motivation for creating WIT?
My motivation in forming WIT was due to my role at a large carrier.  I was responsible for corporate level initiatives to attract and retain nontraditional groups, which included women.  I realized this industry didn’t do a good job in understanding how to introduce women to the great careers within transportation.

SLN: Who is WIT’s audience?
Our audience includes nearly anyone.  First, we want to attract drivers as well as women in management roles, so that includes the non-trucking public.  Our efforts there are to break through any negative stereotypes they might have about trucking, which includes our image.  Secondly, our audience includes carriers as well as suppliers.  We are a great resource for carriers who want to attract and retain more women, but we also have suppliers who support us because they believe in our mission to increase the number of women working in the trucking industry.

SLN: Can anyone join WIT?
Anyone can join!  The dues are divided into both individual and corporate segments.  A student can join for $10 annually.  A driver’s dues are $25 annually and a non-driver pays $50 each year.  A corporate membership is either $500 or $1,000 each year, depending on the size of the company.  Our members include everyone from retired drivers to huge companies such as Walmart, Frito-lay, Daimler and more.

SLN: What are the hurdles women encounter in the trucking industry?

The hurdles, or obstacles, that women encounter can be divided into the driver population and women in leadership roles.  For drivers, everything from truck cab design to safety on the road to harassment from other drivers can be an issue.  For women in leadership, some of the challenges are working in a male dominated environment, ensuring diversity in management and creating a career path for success.

SLN: What specifically does WIT do for women in the trucking industry?
We have many projects that support our mission.  We created a Girl Scout Patch to teach the next generation about the trucking industry.  We work with truck cab designers to create a more ergonomic and driver friendly truck.  We have an anti-harassment employment guide for carriers as well as a recruiting guide on how to attract female drivers.  We formed an Image Team to speak to the media and more importantly, to give legislators and regulators rides in a truck so they can get a glimpse into the challenges a driver faces on the road.  We have a sister organization that provides scholarships for education in any field related to transportation, including safety, driving and technical areas. We are always looking to our members for guidance on how to be a better resource for them.

SLN: How can companies benefit from addressing women’s roles/issues in their businesses?
Companies who hire female drivers will enjoy a very productive and safe group.  Women take fewer risks and so accidents are less severe due to their safe driving behaviors.  Woman are often better with customers, better with their paperwork and better with the equipment.
For women in leadership, women bring a different perspective to the team.  We are more collaborative and more inclusive in our decision making styles.  Again, the less risky behavior results in a more focused view regarding decision making at the top levels.
Numerous studies have found that a greater level of diversity brings in higher profits to the organization and that’s a great reason to hire and promote more women!

SLN: What is the latest Opportunity you’ve found for Women in the trucking industry?
We are so excited to partner with Expediter Services (ES) to attract more women into the industry.  ES has a higher percentage of female drivers than the industry average (six) because of the collaborate and inclusive culture.  The turnover rate in the trucking industry as a whole should be an embarrassment because a typical carrier does not adequately prepare a potential driver for the challenges he or she might face in this industry.  ES ensures the driver not only understands, but is prepared for these challenges.  This is something we feel will help attract and retain more women in transportation careers.

SLN: How can women benefit from Women in Trucking and ES’s Women in Expediting opportunity?
Expediting is something many women enjoy because they don’t want to operate a truck “that bends.”  The smaller straight trucks are easier to learn to operate and a driver can be productive in a shorter time after deciding on this career opportunity.  The expediting segment of the industry can offer women (and men) a way to earn a good wage in a job that gives them more independence than sitting in an office and offers a sense of adventure along the way.
WIT and ES will be working together to give potential drivers opportunites to drive for a living, become owners, and start their own businesses in a supportive culture that encourages, mentors and offers services to make them more productive and successful.  Between our two organizations we have the resources and the expertise to create an environment for success.

SLN: Where do you see the WIT/WIE opportunity going in the near and far term?
As we develop our partnership in the expediting segment we can grow beyond and move into the class A part of the trucking industry.  We have the systems in place to change the way the industry attracts and retains all drivers, but more importantly, to increase the number of women who are not only employed in the trucking industry
but who are successful and happy with this environment.

Thanks Ellen,  for sharing your experience about Women in Expediting with us.
Stay tuned for another edition of Women in Expediting in a future issue of Spotlight News!

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Call us at 877.349.9303 and Never Stand Alone.

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Women in Expediting: Starr Hill. The Follow Up.

November 2, 2016

You may recall in a recent issue of Spotlight News, we spoke with the husband and wife team of Randy and Starr Hill, an independent contractor expediting team, who leveraged Expediter Services opportunities, programs, and equipment to build a successful business. As their earlier story unfolded, it became clear that Starr had overcome a number of hurdles set forth by the DOT, Carriers, and the industry at large, with perseverance, planning and help from ES. Starr was kind enough to go into more detail about her journey into Expediting and how Expediter Services was there to help her clear these hurdles to achieve her goal of becoming a driver in order to work with her husband.

SLN: Thanks for taking time to talk with us again. Can you give us more background as to why you chose Expediting as a career path?
After Randy’s back injury, we were looking at getting back into a trucking career with a better lifestyle, and Expediting was definitely a much better choice because the trucks are easier to drive than tractor trailers. We also liked the fact that Expediting is mostly no touch freight.
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SLN: You’ve mentioned that you didn’t have your CDL when you decided to give Expediting a try. Tell us more about your thought process while considering this new direction.
When we made the decision to get into Expediting, we contacted ES to get more information and to tell them about our business goals before getting started. They were extremely helpful. At first, only Randy was officially onboard at ES, since he already had his CDL. It was our plan from the beginning that I would get my CDL, too. I had passed my written portion of the test, but still needed to become trained in order to get qualified by a carrier. We actually lost time at the start because I had such a difficult time finding a way to finish up.

SLN: Was ES helpful in finding a solution to your getting qualified?
Oh, definitely! Once we mentioned our predicament to the ES team, they came up with a solution: I could train with my husband in our own truck. I can’t tell you what a relief it was.

SLN: What are the advantages of having your husband train you?
Had ES not come up with the solution that my husband could train me, I probably would not be in the business right now. I would have had to train with a stranger, and I probably would have had to train with a strange man — and Randy (nor myself), would have wanted that scenario. Besides, my husband is a real driving professional, and I can’t think of a better person to train with. There are other advantages and benefits to training with my husband, too.

SLN: Can you go into detail about these advantages and benefits?
I’m happy to tell you more, because you really can’t get these benefits anywhere else when you’re just getting started in the trucking business.
– I didn’t have to go to trucking school. I was able to get all of the necessary training on-the-job, with my husband.
– I didn’t have to train with a stranger.
– Once I got my license, I was able to earn full pay, not training pay, which is a huge benefit.
– We’re not tied to a lease-purchase.
– We’re not tied to paying back any signing bonus.
– We’re not stuck into a contract with a carrier forcing us to drive for them for any set number of years because they paid to train me.
– We’re free to pursue truck ownership on our own terms.
– We also have real options, like great equipment and support from ES that lets us train, work and progress at our level of choice.

SLN: That all sounds great! How have things been for you and Randy since you’re now fully licensed and up to speed?
Business is great! I’m driving and contributing to our team, just as we planned. Throughout the entire process of Randy and I becoming contractors with Expediter Services, they have truly lived up to what others in the business have told us about the company. They keep their promises and work with you to help find solutions. It’s refreshing to find a company that doesn’t fight you tooth and nail. They really want you to succeed. I honestly don’t see how anyone would not want to have them standing with you in your corner.

Thanks Starr,  for sharing your experience about Women in Expediting with us.
Stay tuned for another edition of Women in Expediting in a future issue of Spotlight News!

ES is working for You!

Call us at 877.349.9303 and Never Stand Alone.

Please visit us on Facebook.

When There’s Downtime, It’s Time to Upgrade

October 26, 2016

Back in February of 2014, Spotlight News featured Michael and Dee Zaffino, a couple who made the switch from driving eighteen wheelers, over-the-road, to being successful Expediters who purchased their very own 2008 Kenworth T660 straight truck from Expediter Truck Sales.
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Over the past two years, the Zaffino’s have racked up tens of thousands of miles on their truck, delivered hundreds of loads and generated a good revenue stream — but lately, they began to realize their truck was getting a little tired. “We’ve really driven our truck,” said Dee. “From the time we first bought it until just recently, we’ve made the most of our investment.”

It’s Important to Know When to Upgrade

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As with any truck, there’s a point when you know it’s time to upgrade, and that time was soon approaching for the Zaffino’s. “Our Kenworth was beginning to have maintenance issues. It’s something we were expecting, since it was an older truck,” said Dee. “It comes to a point where there are diminishing returns. We began to have so much downtime, it just didn’t make sense to keep putting money into the vehicle. We purchased this truck from Expediter Truck Sales with over 700,000 miles on the clock. We definitely feel like we got our money’s worth because the price we paid for it was far below what we would have paid for a new one. That’s why we went back to Expediter Truck Sales for our new truck!”
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Once again, the Zaffino’s trusted Expediter Services to help them get back up to speed. “We contacted Danny Vernon at Expediter Truck Sales and told him about the issues with our truck and that we were ready to upgrade into a newer unit. He found us a 2014 Cascadia from ES’s fleet and WOW, what a difference! You hear people say that you actually make more money when you drive newer equipment, and that is absolutely true. After driving our new truck for about a month, we can see the difference in fuel economy and of course maintenance. With this new truck and ES’s support, Mike and I feel we we could be in the position to build a fleet in the future,” said Dee.
The buying experience was just as good this time around, too. “Purchasing our new truck was almost too easy. Every step of the buying process was handled under one roof. Our financing was through Expediter Equipment Finance, and everything went smoothly. I don’t know any other company that brings all of the pieces together like ES. I can also say the same thing about their support. They’re with you every step of the way.”

Dee Discusses Being a Women in Expediting

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We also asked Dee about her experience being a Women in Expediting. “Mike and I are two totally different people and bring different skills to our business. I handle most or all of our paperwork, and since I have a customer service background, I do almost all of the daytime driving, which puts me in contact with most of our customers. I find that people are sometimes surprised that there’s a woman who is driving the truck, but they are also polite and respectful. I think there’s a change toward people seeing more and more women in the trucking business and it’s becoming much more common.”
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“I think it’s important for anyone, male or female, to realize that Expediting is a lifestyle and you have to be able to work in a true team environment. We all have different talents and skills and each team member gravitates to tasks that suit their talents. I would advise women who want to become expediters to try it out as a contract driver (as we did) to see if it’s the right thing for you. Also, women need to not be intimidated because the industry is changing to reflect the growth of women in the industry, and that’s a good thing.”

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Call us at 877.349.9303 and Never Stand Alone.

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No CDL. No Problem.

October 14, 2016

hillpic-fixIn the world of science, there’s a principle know as Occam’s Razor: the easiest solution to a problem is usually the best. This rule can also be applied to Expediting. Just ask Independent Contractors Randy and Starr Hill, a husband and wife team who found a simple solution to a big problem, with help from Expediter Services.

When Randy Hill found himself laid up from a severe back injury a few years ago, he and Starr’s financial future looked like it might be in jeopardy. They both knew there had to be solution to their situation, so they began to look for business opportunities online. “Randy spent a couple of years at home recovering from several back surgeries,” said Starr. “He had been a freight hauler for years and was looking for a way to get back into the business. The major criteria we were looking for was that any trucking opportunity would need to be low touch or no touch freight. He found Expediter Services online and gave them a call just to get some information.”

Kim Smith

Kim Smith, ES Recruiter

The Hill’s phone call put them in contact with ES Recruiter Kim Smith. It turned out to be a call that would help overcome a number of obstacles standing in the way of their success. “Randy had been spending a lot of time talking with Kim about our business goals and learning about Expediter Services. ES’s answers to our requirements, including no touch freight sounded good, but I was skeptical. I also spoke with Kim and she was able to overcome any apprehensions that I had. We decided to give ES a try. We started preparing everything on our end to get started as Contract Drivers, signed on with FedEx as our carrier. We hopped a bus to the ES offices, got our paperwork in order and took the truck to the carrier’s orientation. When we finished all of that, there was a 2014 Cascadia waiting on us,” said Starr.

Alicia Leslie

ES Fleet Manager, Alicia Leslie

There was only one problem, however. “In reality, Expediter Services actually only brought Randy on board. I was still working on getting my CDL, and had finished  the written portion and just needed to be trained on a truck to get qualified. Finishing this part of my CDL had put us behind in getting started. One day, Randy mentioned this problem to Kim. She made a couple of phone calls and quickly called us back with a solution: Randy could train me while he’s working in our truck, then when I was ready, I could go take my test to complete my CDL. We were blown away by such an easy solution and the great support from ES to help me finish my CDL. To be able to train with my husband in our own truck was so easy and truly a blessing. It goes without saying that I was a lot more comfortable and safe training with my husband versus a stranger. For anyone looking to get trained, especially women, I highly recommend this approach. We started the process to become Contract Drivers back in November of last year. By June of this year, I had my CDL and we’ve been on the road ever since, driving and making money. It’s wonderful! We absolutely love what we do!”
With their business finally up and running as a team, the road ahead is looking very good indeed. “A few weeks ago, we got a call from our Fleet Manager Alicia Leslie, telling us to drop by and pick up our brand new 2016 Cascadia. The truck is wonderful. It’s so nice, it kind of gets us to wondering what it would be like to actually own our own truck some day. And when that day comes, ES will be our choice. I know they’ll be there for us no matter what decision we make for our business.”

ES is working for You!

Call us at 877.349.9303 and Never Stand Alone.

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Expediting 2016: The State of Finance, Credit and Lending

October 11, 2016

tractor & class 8 trucksFluctuations in business are nothing new, and as Expediters, we’ve learned to take the good times with the bad. It’s no secret that 2016 has seen a soft environment for freight. According to the CASS Freight Index report, as of June, freight is down 8.8 percent from June 2015. This situation is causing pressure on lending markets, as well as credit end users. In order to analyze and better understand these market forces, Spotlight News talked to four industry finance specialists to get their take on what’s down the road for finance, credit, and lending. Their answers may surprise you and even motivate some to reevaluate their business goals. But one thing is for certain, you won’t look at credit and lending the same way again — and you will also learn that there is safety in support in any economic environment.

Sarah Jones • District Finance Manager at Daimler Truck Financial for the Indianapolis Territory

SLN: What are you seeing in Finance, Lending and Credit right now?
The financial strength at the moment is not going in the right direction. As we do all of the line renewals for the year, the ratings have gone down, and a lot of our owner operator delinquencies are up. Used truck values have been hurt somewhat and this was a leading indicator for the down tick.

SLN: To what do you attribute the recent downturn in the economy?
I attribute it to a number of things. Everyone stopped replacing units during the previous downturn and waited things out, and during the 2014 – 2015 era, people were replacing all of their equipment. So, your debt service ratios are a little high right now. And on top of this, you have the driver shortage where you have all this new equipment out there in the market. It’s not uncommon right now to see a lot of new equipment just sitting because there are no drivers to put in these trucks. Throw in slow freight on top of all this, and it all has a cumulative effect.

SLN: What do you see happening to finance and the economy from now through next year?
I think we’re leveling off. 2014 & 15 were high and it looks like we’re entering into a period of “normalcy” — it’s a good thing if you ask me. Driver retention is a priority for every fleet and you’re seeing carriers and support companies like Expediter Services introducing new and innovative ways to attract and keep drivers and we’re starting to see the fruits of that labor. I think 2017 is going to be a really good year.

SLN: Do you feel the election is having an effect on the market?
No doubt elections do have an effect because no one knows what is going to happen, but it’s proven that after every election, the economy always bounces right back initially. I’m truly not worried about it and once it’s behind us it will be business as usual.

SLN: Do you have any advice for customers?
I think the best thing you can do whether you’re an owner operator or a fleet is to make sure you’re prepared, organized and you’ve done your homework. As an owner operator, it’s especially important to align yourself with a carrier or a service company like Expediter Services. Having that umbrella of cost savings and support can make all the difference.

David Bibler • Finance Manager Stoops Freightliner Quality Trailer

stoopslogo2SLN: What are you seeing in the financial lending market right now?
I see a tightening of credit from the major players at the moment. They’re asking more questions, not necessarily not doing the business, but they are being more cautious and drilling deeper.

SLN: How does the fact that the lenders are drilling deeper effect your business?
With the lenders being more cautious and asking more questions, it slows down the process a little more and makes it more difficult for me and my staff to meet all the stipulations.

SLN: What are lenders looking at when it comes to making loans?
Some lenders will only consider individuals who have had at least five years experience as an owner operator, versus someone who has just been a company driver for a short time period. Many of these lenders were in the business during the previous couple of downturns and haven’t forgotten the affects created by a bad economy.
Also, the first truck and/or trailer are tough for the first time buyer (if not practically impossible). But what’s even tougher is the second and third truck, depending on how quickly the owner wants to grow. For instance, if a buyer were to come back a few months later, having bought a new truck and wants to buy another, that’s probably not going to happen. Whereas, years ago, depending on the financial strength of the individual, they may have had a better opportunity to make that happen. Now, lenders will want to see a couple of years of pay history at least in order to consider the loan.

SLN: What can a first time buyer do to increase his or her odds of getting a successful loan?
It really comes down to the individual. For example, an experienced company driver with five to six years driving experience, who is a home owner, a previous credit history with a car, etc., and is looking to buy a new truck — we might be able to do a deal. But putting a first time buyer in new equipment is slim to none, unless there’s a substantial down payment. This is because lenders have learned that this scenario is one of their biggest risks.
I think the toughest thing for equipment buyers to understand is that buying a truck isn’t like buying a car or a house, where your high credit consists of a few credit cards and a $10,000 car loan. Just because you have a 700 credit score doesn’t mean you’re going to get an approval.

Steps customers can take to show the best credit to lenders are:
• Get experience with a program at a fleet (such as ES)
• Buy used equipment to get established
Lending has come full circle. People used to buy a used truck, get experience as an owner operator, then trade that equipment in order to get a little newer truck, taking steps to build a business, and that’s the scenario where we are at the present; slow and steady growth.

SLN: What do you see for finance in the future?
Well, personally, I can’t wait for the election to be over with. I think this will help somewhat. Also, the economy has been on a slow burn over several years, which isn’t a terrible thing. I think we’re on the downside of this slow burn and I think we’re in for a soft landing, barring some kind of national catastrophe. To sum it up, I think the future is bright.

Steve Kochensparger • Finance Manager Expediter Equipment Finance

expediter equipment financeSLN: What are you seeing in the economy and finance right now?
The credit market has tightened up. It’s important for people to understand that there’s a big difference between personal credit versus commercial credit. The tightening up I mentioned primarily affects first time buyers because they come into a potential truck purchasing situation, sometimes with unrealistic expectations. They may have just gone down to their local car dealer, purchased a new pickup truck and gotten a 3.9% interest rate. Realistically, I may not be able to get them anything at all based on what their credit score is. It really
comes down to comparable credit.

SLN: What do you mean by comparable credit?
We see a lot of people who just don’t have any depth to their credit report. They’ve had $12,000 car loans and two or three credit cards. They’ve got a pretty decent score, but there’s nothing there for a commercial lender to put their teeth into. This is one of the criteria that lenders are looking at now, what kind of length and depth the customer has in his credit report. Unfortunately, the recession of 2008 — 2010, caused a lot of problems even for experienced drivers, and some of those problems are now cleared up or are getting ready to be cleared. For instance, if you had a slow pay back in ’08, that will be coming off your credit report. But if you had a tax lein or similar, that stays on your record until it’s satisfied. I’ve pulled more poor credit in the past couple of years than I’ve seen in a long time.

SLN: What do you attribute to the recent rash of poor credit you’ve seen?
It’s due to the poor economy, definitely. People just aren’t working like they’d like to be working. There are only so many jobs to go around and if you take a job just to have a job, then you might not be making anywhere close to what you were making before. When it comes to truck drivers, freight has been off for about a year or so, especially in the first and second quarters of this year. This effects the trucking community in a couple of ways. They know they need a new truck, but they don’t have the revenue, so they’re holding their current truck together the best they can and their maintenance goes up. Every year you own a truck, the cost to operate goes up. There’s more maintenance of course, but the big killer is when the truck is down, you’re not making revenue and there’s no way to make it up once you miss that opportunity.

SLN: Is being an Owner Operator for everyone?
A lot of people find out that being an Owner Operator isn’t always the answer unless they have a really good truck and a reserve of cash to see them through daily operating expenses and even some unforeseen maintenance costs.

SLN: Where do you see Finance and the economy going from now until next year?
We are seeing a pick up in the freight. Freight like anything else in the economy goes through cycles and what we’ve been seeing is nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t think people were looking for this last downturn as much as they should have, and I think this has maybe caught some folks unaware. One of the things we’re seeing as a result is that the cash requirement for lenders has gone up, while the available cash for buyers has gone down. This makes putting a deal together somewhat harder. But hopefully, we will continue to see an improvement in freight and this will relieve some of the pressure we’re seeing in the lending markets.

SLN: How can potential owners operators prepare and protect their positions in a down market?
When you buy a truck as an owner operator, you’re not just buying a truck, you’re starting a business and you have to deal with everything that goes along with that. I would recommend anyone wanting to own a truck and start a business, to align themselves with an entity like Expediter Services (which is unique in the market because of what they offer) that can provide support and cost savings like fuel discounts, insurance and even maintenance. I see so many new owners leaving “money on the table” because they don’t take advantage of the programs offered by these type of companies.

Jeff Tacker • Vice President of Operations Expediter Services

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SLN: What is your take on Finance, Lending and Credit right now?

Like everyone else, we’re seeing a tightening of the credit markets, putting pressure on lenders and customers of credit. There are a couple of key factors at play here, among them being a soft freight environment, and an acute driver shortage in the market. The first couple of quarters of 2016 were a real low point for freight. These are areas that Expediter Services is keen to bring our resources to bear in order to help the industry, and our community as a whole.

SLN: You mentioned helping the industry and your community. What is Expediter Services doing?
ES is unlike any company in the industry. First of all, we’re a service company. What I mean by that is we are here to provide support to independent contractors, owner operators and fleet owners in the form of programs and value added initiatives to save money on fuel, insurance, and maintenance items, in conjunction with tools to help maximize utilization. We are also in the business to serve and support our carrier’s efforts by being the largest expediting capacity provider in the country.
Through our finance arm, Expediter Equipment Finance, we have access to capital, giving us the ability to make loans for equipment that other lenders in the market simply won’t or can’t do. A good example of this is our PTO (Path to Ownership) that takes into account your work history with Expediter Services when it comes to getting a loan. We feel it’s our support, programs, benefits and options that set us apart in the industry and will be beneficial to anyone looking for opportunities during a good and bad economy.

SLN: How do you see 2016 and 2017 shaping up?
From the data we’ve seen, there is a leveling out of the deep and slow freight trough we experienced earlier in the year. We feel a positive economic trend is on the horizon. We urge anyone who is looking for support and opportunity to contact Expediter Services to learn more about how we can support your efforts through good times and bad.

ES is working for You!

Call us at 877.349.9303 and Never Stand Alone.

Please visit us on Facebook.

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