Q: Bison once again, for the fifth time, was named the grand prize winner of the TCA’s National Safety Awards. It’s a considerable accomplishment considering the US fleets you are up against. What accounts for Bison’s consistent excellent safety performance?
Streuber: There is no question safety is a top down initiative. It has to be endorsed at every level in the organization, not just through words in a memo but through investment, attitude and support. We spend a lot of energy on all aspects of safety. It isn’t as simple as one key ingredient. It’s like what makes a great bowl of soup? Ultimately it’s the combination of ingredients and the method of putting them together that results in success. We take training very seriously and our commitment to that is unrelenting. We take issues of equipment quality and the safety component attached to that, and the integration of dispatch and operations towards a safety-minded culture very seriously. Ultimately, we give drivers the right to decide. We treat them as the professionals they are and allow them to make a professional decision on every mile whether it’s safe to continue on. Our goal with our safety program is not to win safety awards. Doing so is just further ratification that we are doing it correctly.
Q: You were also named one of the Best Fleets to Drive For, for the third year in a row. Transportation is a very challenging business, both in terms of profit margins and workloads. What goes into making a company one that people want to work for?
Streuber: Like safety, it must be a top down initiative that focuses on respect and trust that a driver will behave as a professional. As soon as you allow someone to do their job and trust them to do it right and appreciate it when they do it right, either through affirmation or awards or remuneration tied to performance, it builds upon the core mindset of feeling respected as a professional contributing to the success of the business.
Q: The economic recovery still appears to be rather slow and somewhat shaky. What do you see as the new normal?
Streuber: There is no question we are seeing shippers wanting to secure supply. If the larger players are not increasing supply and the smaller carriers are leaving the industry, there will be less supply. As supply drops, pricing will go up to a level of rates that we had a few years ago. If the pricing gets high enough, the supply situation may change but we are still recovering rates and need to continue to receive appropriate payment for what we have invested and what we are planning to do down the road. The difficulty right now is that the recovery is slow. We are not seeing a consistency of market recovery either by industry or geography but we are seeing recovery. Government cuts may have an impact and a lack of consumer confidence really does penetrate the whole transportation cycle.
Q: As new Chairman for the Canadian Trucking Alliance, what is the most important thing you would like shippers to appreciate about Canada’s trucking industry?
Streuber: As much as the supply chain has evolved, the supply chain fulfillment sector has also changed and we need to keep up with those changes, including the ability to use LCVs as an effective means of reducing our carbon footprint and providing more efficient service. It isn’t more complicated than that. We talk about a driver shortage and with LCVs one driver can pull two trailers. The absence of LCVs means the carrier has to hire a second driver. When you consider how to address the driver shortage one possible solution is the utilization of LCVs. It’s not going to address all our driver requirements, and not all drivers will be able to drive LCVs, but it is a component of the long-term answer.