Seldom do I write about products, and even less do I write about specific companies. This month is different. This time I am writing about a company that I have dealt with for a couple of years, and this company has achieved what is just the start of a very successful future.
I first visited Steve’s Livestock Transport in 2018 when I was invited to perform a workshop related to the Driver Retention Masterclass, which is now a TCA offering to the industry. I remember it well. Here was a group of people led by Bill Rempel, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) who I had met the previous evening for dinner. During dinner Bill explained to me that the company had more than a 90% turnover rate and that this type of turnover was unsustainable by the company for any ongoing duration of time. I learned that one of the main reasons was that the company typically invest in excess of $20K per driver for training, much of it pertaining to how to deal with livestock and all the complexities of ensuring that North America’s food security is not compromised. No simple task!
At the time we were talking about a fleet of approximately 150 Drivers and Owner Operators, so this is easy math at that turnover rate. The training cost alone of this mid-sized fleet was more than 2.7 million dollars, which was leaking from the company annually. To add to this, my experience suggests to me that this number is typically doubled when inefficiencies are added in from each department. It looks like this; maintenance and the wear and tear on vehicles, sales and the service failures that come with high turnover, operations and continuous acclimation of new drivers, safety and accident/cargo claims that come from an unstable workforce and lastly, administration with the continual training of new people on company paperwork procedures. A little harder to measure, yet just as impactful on the bottom line, not to mention the cultural impact on people.
Steve’s is located in beautiful Blumenort, Manitoba. This could possibly be the flattest place I have ever been to. This is where, when your dog runs away, you can still see him the next day; in fact, the whole town can see him and maybe the rest of the province too. Fine dining in Blumenort consist of a Boston Pizza and a Smitty’s, two of my favorites. My friends, this is small town Manitoba at it’s finest. Their licence plates proudly read Friendly Manitoba and believe me, it is and they are, almost to a fault I would come to find out.
The fine people at Steve’s have been stuck on how to deal with driver turnover for some time and they are simply and totally frustrated on how to get unstuck. This is not a new situation for me to come across since I have been in the Driver Retention Coach position for the past couple of years. Steve’s retained me and my first workshop included about ten people from various departments. I was impressed with their dedication and openness to my ramblings.
I told these folks that the people they were hiring didn’t want to fail and that they didn’t come to the company to eventually have to go home to their families and tell them they were let go or quit. Telling them that this situation needs to be taken personally was not lost on them. They totally got the concept of telling a driver that you cannot hire them because they are not a good fit for the company. They understood that this showed much more compassion than having to deal with their departure a few months down the road.
So, they started working through the Driver Retention Masterclass material and implementing the strategies, forming the committees, and making incremental gains. They started by building a firm foundation. They then began to showcase their exceptional safety record; they formed a group of people that were charged with communicating with all persons involved with Steve’s, and those that weren’t involved with Steve’s would be shown the good things that happen in the business and in the industry. They started to measure the expectations of all drivers that came on board which included home time and pay. They started to recognize superior performance and the amazing things their people do for other people on the road, in their communities and in the workplace. They also helped those that needed it and helped those who had ambition to be the very best at whatever their passion was.
This effort was well thought out, but the execution stalled, and I was asked to come back to Blumenort for another workshop, which I gladly did. No one in their right mind would ever pass up a trip to Blumenort and to spend time with these friendly folks. After a second short time spent on site, we were back on track and again we saw incremental gains.
So, you can imagine my frame of mind when I received an email from Mr. Bill Rempel who is now the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) just a few days back. Here is I what I received: “Ray, the party is on! I am so thrilled about this award and I am even more thrilled to see how excited our management team is”.
You see this company that was crowding 100% turnover had morphed itself into an award-winning business and dropped their turnover by 65% over a two-year period. This takes determination; this takes persistence; this takes commitment from the entire leadership team and all the fine people inside the walls at this company. So, congratulations to Steve’s Livestock Transport, named a Top Fleet Employer by Trucking HR Canada!
I am proud of you folks. Well done and now the grinding starts. We need to not only maintain the momentum but drop that turnover even farther – but now is the time for celebration. Take a short break to reflect and when done, I know that by your nature, you will get right back at it.
Congratulations on this award and the many that are still to come your way.
Regards and Safe Trucking
Ray J. Haight
Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.