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Matching the right driver with the right fleet

During the PMTC’s annual conference in June of this year, we had the opportunity to examine some best practices in the area of hiring and managing drivers, and we followed that up by celebrating the induction of some true driving...


During the PMTC’s annual conference in June of this year, we had the opportunity to examine some best practices in the area of hiring and managing drivers, and we followed that up by celebrating the induction of some true driving professionals into the PMTC Hall of Fame.

One thing we learned during the conference was that it is not just serendipity that matches great drivers with well-managed fleets. The two simply go hand in hand.

The conference featured a panel discussion by three fleet managers whose companies have consistently rated highly in the PMTC’s annual Fleet Safety Awards program, sponsored by Zurich. Each shared some of their personnel management practices with an audience of keenly interested attendees who wanted to know just how they do it.

Combined, these fleets utilize the services of over 400 drivers and they have a number of first-rate personnel management practices in common. For example, they all have a concerted focus on safety and only hire drivers with a similar attitude; they all use intensive pre-hire screening practices to confirm driver abstracts and employment history; they use one-on-one interviews with potential candidates; and conduct extensive road tests.

Once hired, drivers with these companies are put through a lengthy induction program, following which they enjoy such perks as a benefits package, pension plans, savings plans, uniforms, and in-house awards programs. The fleets all use continuous training and listen – really listen – to driver feedback. They operate top of the line equipment and keep it mechanically fit.

And of course, as part of the overall approach to fleet management their wage scales are above average, and include incentive plans.

The results are proof that their efforts are paying off. Turnover rates in these fleets are extremely low, with one fleet reported less than 1% turnover in the past year while another reported that many drivers retire with the company after as many as 30 years of service.

Fleets that take this approach to driver management can attract and keep the quality of driver that we find in the PMTC’s Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers.

This year, four such drivers were inducted into the Hall of Fame and each of them possesses the driving skills and approach to their career that puts them high on the most wanted list – in a good sense of course.

Mike Demone of Home Hardware Stores Limited is one of those drivers. Mike began his driving career at the age of 21 and in his 36 years of driving he has covered this country from Cape Spear, Nfld. to Port Hardy, B.C., and up to Hay River in the Territories. Mike has driven for Home Hardware Stores for the past 31 years, based in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, traveling over 6.5 million kilometres accident free.

Given a willing ear, Demone will talk passionately about his experiences on the road and the people he has met. He has rescued a baby in a car seat hanging upside down after a car had rolled over, and a fellow driver from a crushed semi that was about to catch fire.

Home Hardware management view Mike as very detail oriented and dedicated, and as a great ambassador for the company.

Jimmy Peters of TMH Logistic, assigned to the TONA Transport fleet is another professional driver with an outstanding record. Jimmy began working for Huron Services Group over 30 years ago and has driven over five million kilometres accident-free. Peters began his career with Dupont’s Quebec operations, and subsequently transferred to Ontario. He delivers bulk dangerous goods including hydrogen peroxide and corrosive acids.

For the last five years, he has hauled bulk compressed gas tankers from Maitland to Utah on a regular schedule for TONA Transport, a Huron Services client. His employers see Jimmy as a true professional, respected by his peers and clients alike.

Our third 2013 inductee to the Hall of Fame was Rick Packham of Huron Services Group, assigned to the John Deere fleet. Packham began driving with this fleet in 1992, and has hauled a wide variety of equipment through most of the continental US and Canada. Over that time he has driven over five million kilometres as part of the Huron Services Group team servicing John Deere.

Packham is assigned to one of the longest and most demanding routes in the fleet, and has encountered all sorts of weather extremes from floods to blizzards. Despite that he is counted on to persevere and deliver the load.

The inductees also included Jeff Foell of Patene Building Supplies. Foell began driving for Patene Building Supplies in 1987 and over those 25-plus years has no driving violations on his personnel or safety files. He has logged over 2.5 million kilometres while operating a variety of tractor-trailers with various weights and sizes of building materials throughout Ontario.

Together, these four exceptional drivers have accumulated 106 years and over 14 million kilometres of safe driving with unblemished records.

These records of these drivers and those of the fleets for which they drive make the point that outstanding fleets attract and cultivate outstanding drivers. It’s more than serendipity that brings them together.


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