The FedEx Custom Critical Four Star Award acknowledges the top independent contractors in their fleet who demonstrate a high standard of customer service, safety and efficiency. Expediter Services is proud to be a part of this celebration with the representation of two independent contractor teams from our own fleet who have been chosen for this year’s prestigious award. One team, Kenneth & Virginia Babcock, are veteran recipients, having been chosen for the award in 2013; as well as first-time award winners James Tucker and Elizabeth Johnson. Each team will attend the nearly week-long celebration located on Amelia Island, Florida, starting July 19th. Join us as we spotlight these two deserving teams. Congratulations everyone! Kenneth & Virginia Babcock — Veterean Award Winners
“Being chosen again for the Four Star Award is a real thrill,” said Virginia Babcock. “Kenny and I always strive to follow procedures and do the right thing when it comes to our business. If the speed limit is 55, we make sure to stay at that posted speed. We believe that rules are in place for a purpose. It pays to go by the book.”
However, in Expediting, as in any business, there are grey areas that present a challenge. “We’ve been doing this for a long time and I think there’s a bit of luck involved when it comes to your overall performance. For example, a few years ago our old truck developed a tiny air leak that was detected by an inspector in California. No matter how much pre or post prep you do, some things just happen. But Expediter Services is always there to help when the unexpected happens. They’re great about keeping up with maintenance on our truck. They’re also great when it comes to getting paid. They have never been late on paying us and they always go to bat for us if we have any problems with our settlements.”
When asked about the upcoming Four Star Awards, Virginia says FedEx knocks it out of the park. “When we attended the awards in 2013, we were blown away by the whole thing. I mean, when you’re served steak & lobster and all the trimmings, it gets your attention. The service was first rate. We were treated like celebrities — I expect this year’s awards to be just as phenomenal. We’re really proud to be a part of this. It really motivates you to do your best every day.” James Tucker & Elizabeth Johnson — First-time Award Recipients
Throughout the year, James and Elizabeth kept receiving quarterly bonuses marked “Four Star” on their checks. They had no idea it would lead to an award for excellence. “We would get these bonuses and think it was because we hadn’t had any accidents or something like that. Then one day, we got a call from Alicia Leslie, our Fleet Manager at Expediter Service who informed us we were chosen to receive the FedEx 4 Star Award. I can’t tell you how excited we were. I mean, how often do you get a great paid for vacation!?”
Although they’ve been in and out of the Expediting business for a number of years, something was different this time around. “You know, it’s funny, as long as we’ve been in Expediting, we now have a different attitude than in the past and I attribute it to the new flat rate adopted by FECC. We now turn down very few jobs and as long as the truck is rolling, we’re making money. It’s so much better now that we don’t have to bicker. And it’s not so frightening to accept loads that are a little off of the beaten path. Being paid .75 cents per mile on the deadhead has a lot to do with this.”
When asked about other factors that influence their productivity, Elizabeth was quick to point out support they get from Expediter Services. “With ES we just don’t have to worry about things. Our equipment is always well taken care of, our pay is always on time and we have people like Alicia who have our back when it comes to dealing directly with the carrier. We’re really all one big team when it comes to getting the Four Star Award.”
Stay tuned. Spotlight News will be reporting on their week at Amelia Island in an upcoming issue.
This week’s Spotlight News caught up with new truck owners Tom MacDermott, and his wife and driving partner Hope, in Maine delivering parts to a windmill factory. Their Expediting journey has brought them a long way from starting out as contract drivers with Expediter Services, signed on with FedEx Custom Critical in 2013.
“My career in trucking actually began back in 2009 when the economy took its big nose dive,” said MacDermott. I was in the construction business and that industry went away practically overnight. It was a tough thing to have to go through and it left me looking for a career that wasn’t so volatile — that’s when I turned to trucking.”
But the MacDermott’s, always ones to keep up with the latest transportation trends and opportunities, eventually made their way to Expediting. “After a few years of driving and talking to people in the industry, we found out about the improved lifestyle and income potential offered by Expediting. We looked around and found out about Expediter Services and became contract drivers about two years ago. We signed on to FedEx Custom Critical and we haven’t looked back since.” And a large part of their looking forward was their desire to own their own truck. “Ever since the day we started as contract drivers, we always knew that some day we would be owners, it was just a matter of when,” said MacDermott. “We started the process last year by talking to the folks at Expediter Truck Sales, but life has a way of throwing you a curveball, and that curveball just happened to be my daughter’s wedding. We were excited about her starting a new life, and knew that a new truck could wait just a little longer.”
Then there was the spring EGG (Expediter Group Gathering). “Having started the process of looking for a truck earlier last year, we knew we were ahead of the game. So, when the spring EGG event was announced at Expediter Services’ home office in Southaven, Mississippi, we thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about the business and to look into getting a new truck all at the same time. The EGG was a great experience. We got to meet other Expediters who have the same experiences and challenges that we face in our business. We also got to meet the folks at Expediter Services. Overall, it was a great learning experience — and we bought our first truck. We picked out a 2013 Cascadia from ES’s fleet and utilized Expediter Equipment Finance. They made the whole buying experience so easy.”
Once the MacDermott’s hit the road, there were a couple of hiccups that had to be ironed out. “We love our new truck, but we had a problem with the APU. We told Expediter Services about it and they went above and beyond to fix it. They also fixed a couple of other smaller things too. ES standing behind their product reinforced our trust in the people and the company. When we get ready to expand our fleet, we’ll definitely be coming back to Expediter Truck Sales.”
And speaking of expanding his fleet, when we asked about their future plans, MacDermott didn’t mince words when it came to planning for his business. “There’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into purchasing a truck or trucks. My goal is to have five trucks in our fleet by 2020. And any variable in the price of equipment or freight can make or break your plans. Take for instance the new FedEx flat rate structure they now have in place. The fact that I can now plan my business around a fixed rate makes this process easier. I’ve already calculated that the new flat rate has increased my income by about $10,000 a year because they now pay .75 cents per mile on deadhead. We plan on building a business that we can leave to our children, and being able to plan using this new pricing structure and the opportunities provided by Expediter Services will definitely help us get there.”
One of the great things about Spotlight News, is that we get to know Expediters on a long-term and even an intimate basis. We then have the privilege of sharing their stories about what works to make their businesses successful or more importantly, what doesn’t work. Either way, you get to learn from their experience.
This issue of Spotlight revisits Jimmy and Bobbi Moore, an Expediting team who have overcome adversity (at least at the beginning of their career) to build a successful fleet of six trucks. (read more about their earlier stories here and here)
The Moore’s Expediting business began back in 2013, signing on with FedEx as their carrier. But little did they know, their business would be off to a bit of rocky start. “Bobbi and I dove into our business with great expectations. We went through FedEx orientation, bought a new Freightliner M2 from a Freightliner dealer and hit the road — and that’s where the trouble began,” said Jimmy. “No sooner had we started hauling freight when the truck began to have problems. If it wasn’t one thing it was another. We knew right away that this truck was a mistake. At only 180,000 miles I had to replace the engine, and recently the transmission “hand grenaded” and we had to fix it. Out of all the trucks in our fleet, it has the least amount of miles on it. To say that we were frustrated and disappointed would be an understatement.”
Thankfully, the Moore’s story gets better with the right equipment. “We knew then and there that we had to get another truck to take up the slack. We did some research and found Expediter Truck Sales. They told us about a used 2008 T660 and we crossed our fingers and bought it because there was so little equipment out in the market place. We were relieved to find out that this truck was a really good buy. It gave us great service and was a great value. In fact, it worked out so well we purchased another one later that year. From that point on we were hooked on the trucks from Expediter Services fleet.” And with the right equipment, their business began to grow even more. “Once we got the right trucks on the road, we were able to start making the kind of income we always knew we could. In January of 2014, we added a 2013 Cascadia, and let me tell you, that is one great truck! It is spec’d to a great standard and the quality is head and shoulders above anything we’ve experienced. It’s efficient and we’ve not had a single problem since we bought it. Our experience with this truck affirmed that we made the right decision by going with Expediter Truck Sales. And did I mention that we also went with Expediter Equipment Finance? They made everything so easy.”
Up to this point Jimmy and Bobbi now had a fleet of five trucks…then came the spring EGG. “Since we’ve had such great success with the trucks we got from Expediter Truck Sales, we decided to attend the latest EGG at Expediter Services home office in Southaven, Mississippi. And It was NOTHING like I thought it would be. I mean, it was just so personal. We got to know just about everyone we usually talk to over the phone, including April Holland, the Fleet Managers, Jason & Paul Williams and Jeff Tacker. I would sincerely encourage anyone to attend an EGG and get to know the people at Expediter Services. Since we’ve been in business, our dealings with Expediter Services has always been nothing but positive. They have always kept their word and followed through on what they say they are going to do. They are a company that I can plan my family’s future around and that’s truly saying something.” And by the way, Jimmy and Bobbi added another 2013 Cascadia to their fleet at the Spring EGG, bringing their fleet to six trucks!
“There’s one more thing I’d like to add about planning for the future,” said Moore. “Freight is on an upward trajectory right now and any edge you can get helps you as a fleet owner and FedEx’s introduction of the flat rate environment has had a tremendous impact on my ability to plan for the future by taking the “artwork” out of expediting. The ability to make solid plans for the future based on flat rates takes the guess work out of knowing when to grow my fleet.”
Padriaca Prude, Joe Curry & Cindy Chau Prude in front of their 2013 Cascadia
Padriaca and Cindy Chau Prude are no strangers to Spotlight News. We’ve been spotlighting their success since they bought their first pre-owned expediting truck (a 2008 Kenworth) from Expediter Truck Sales back in August of 2013 (read their earlier stories here and here). Since then, they have purchased two additional trucks from ETS, making them fleet owners with a purpose. “My background as a logistics officer in the Marines has motivated me as a fleet owner to help provide opportunities to vets who are looking to build a business and create capital.
Expediting is an excellent way to do that,” says Prude. In January of this year, the Prudes purchased a second used truck, a 2012 Cascadia, also from ETS, officially making them fleet owners. As Padriaca points out, being a fleet owner creates a whole new dynamic. “After we bought our second truck, we began to realize just how important support from Expediter Services’ Owner Operator program really is to our success. They really help keep our business running smoothly, allowing us to drive and make money.”
And as good fleet owners, Padriaca and Cindy are continuously adapting to changes taking place within the industry. “This past April, FedEx made changes to their rules allowing Expediters to keep trucks for ten years as opposed to only eight before having to upgrade equipment. The timing of this rule change coincided with ES’s springtime EGG (Expediter Group Gathering) at their home office in Southaven, Mississippi. Our attendance at the EGG helped reinforce our decision to add a third truck to our fleet (a 2013 Cascadia). It now makes even more sense than ever to purchase good used equipment from Expediter Truck Sales because we can get even more service out of them because of this rule change. I mean, why would anyone buy a new truck when there is such great value from a used truck!”
Looking to the future, the Prudes are making moves to utilize the efficiencies of fleet ownership. “We’ve incorporated our company, Brittany-Megan, LLC, and we’ll be hiring Joe Curry as our fleet recruiter. He also has a military background and will be tasked with helping us acquire drivers. He will also act a a liaison between them and the support team at Expediter Services. With his help and the support we get from ES, including Expediter Equipment Finance, we should hit our goal of having 20 trucks in our fleet by 2017.
And Spotlight News will be there to report on their success!
Joshua Blankenship, Contract Driver for Lee Burkhalter
Followers of Spotlight News already know that success in Expediting can come from anywhere at any time. Just one example is Caleb Harper who went from driving trucks in the Texas oil fields to building a successful Expediting fleet. He compared his journey to “riding a bull”. (read his story here) In this issue, we follow up on Lee Burkhalter from the heart of the Mississippi Delta who is building a fleet of Expediting trucks purchased from Expediter Truck Sales. (read his story from January here)
A farmer and rancher by trade, Burkhalter compares his foray into Expediting to driving a tractor, sometimes called an “iron horse”. “My journey into Expediting has been slow and steady, just like riding an iron horse out in the bean fields. You begin at one end of a field and at the end of the day you’ve accomplished your goal.” And his goal is to grow an Expediting fleet. “I started my trucking career by buying a Sprinter van. I’ve been running it several years now. After realizing the earning potential of owning a straight truck I bought a 2012 Cascadia in January from Expediter Truck Sales and ran it as a solo. This week I will be transitioning this to a team and moving that truck to FedEx.”
That isn’t the only thing Burkhalter accomplished this week. He also obtained a new Cascadia. “I really got motivated to build a fleet after attending the latest EGG (Expediter Group Gathering). I watched all of the presentations and talked with the folks at Expediter Services and other fleet owners who attended about the earning potential of owning multiple trucks. It reenforced my desire to become a fleet owner.”
Burkhalter sees the purchase of his two Cascadias this year as a good start. “In about the next three months I plan on adding another truck to the fleet. Also, I’m talking to a team who is interested in driving a reefer unit and if the opportunity works out I may add that as well at some point. With all of the support I get from Expediter Services, there’s really no telling just how much I’ll be able to grow or how quickly. Their Owner Operator program and all the tools and services it provides, make running a fleet easy. I’m looking forward to seeing where this opportunity takes me.”