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Drivers: The Trucking Industry’s Greatest Asset

Traveling from our headquarters in Western Minnesota to Minneapolis this week, I passed a competitors truck on the road and the entire trailer was lettered with the following phrase:  “Our Most Valuable Asset sits 63’ Ahead” in bold letters on the trailer, with an arrow pointing to the cab of the truck.     It was bold and took up the entire side of the trailer – you couldn’t miss it.

This competing trucking firm is well known, has an excellent reputation in the industry and in my opinion, gets it!  What are they saying to both their own drivers, as well as the other drivers on the roadway is that we appreciate our drivers enough to basically “tell the world” and then they go one step further and invite other drivers to talk to the driver and ask them why.

We are in a competitive business, both for shippers and manufacturers business to load our trucks, but also in the people business, how do we insure that we have the men and women in the future to drive our trucks and what are we doing both here at Kottke Trucking, but also as an industry, to attract, train, retain and insure the survival of our industry for years to come?   We recently implemented a new driver pay package which puts us ahead of the pack of many of our competitors.  We did this for a number of reason’s – to instill a sense of pride among our current drivers that we do care and that they are as important to us as any new driver that comes on board.

Another reason, to say that as a trucking firm that has been in business for 77 years and in our 3rd generation of ownership, that we know that in order to make it to the 4th & 5th generations and beyond, this is an investment that we needed to do.  We are seeing those shippers that understand the value of the driver coming on board and allowing us the opportunity to sit down and discuss our operational expenses and why, when we ask for a rate increase, that a huge part of an increase covers the additional pay that we have implemented.

It’s not an easy decision and sometimes not an easy conversation, to sit across the desk from a Transportation Director or VP of Supply Chain and explain how decisions that they make today, will impact their business for many years to come – to insure the continuation of their own supply chain.

Necessity dictates that as an industry, our drivers pay has not kept pace with inflation for over 20 years and in order for our industry to survive, those of us who believe we are leaders in the industry, will make those hard choices and decisions and rise to the occasion.  My last name might be Kottke, but in the nearly 15+ years that I’ve now worked within the business my brothers and I purchased from our parents in 1996, I’ve come to realize more and more the importance of that “valuable asset” that sits in the cab of our trucks every day.

I recently read a book entitled “Driving to Perfection” by Brian Fielkow on how to create and achieve business excellence by creating a vibrant culture. We believe we are doing that here at Kottke Trucking, not only for our drivers, but for all of our associates.

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Kottke Trucking, Inc.