CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Electronic logging devices, marijuana legalization, and the driver shortage are hot-button industry issues that are here to stay for the long haul.
So, it was only natural that a panel at this year’s Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) convention discussed these topics and the future of trucking as they see it on October 5 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
The panel consisted of Steve Ondejko, president of OnFreight Logistics; Ken Rosenau, president of Rosenau Transport; and Jeff MacLean, president of Michelin North America.
According to Ondejko, switching his fleet to e-logs was the best choice he’s ever made.
“We’ve been on e-logs for three years now and it’s probably the best business decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “We thought we were going to get a lot of pushback from the drivers but they’ve embraced it and accepted it and we actually sleep better at night now, because we know things are running as they should be.”
Ondejko added he believes his drivers are happier now since the ELD implementation, because now, they’ve changed their operations so most drivers are home every night.
“We’ve had to change our operation entirely,” he explained. “It’s not just switching from paper to electronic, we have to work with our customers to change the way we work. So, we did, and we’ve created hubs so our drivers could drive to their destination and be back home at night.”
Rosenau said he hopes the same will happen with his fleet, that has been testing a certain ELD to be rolled out in his fleet soon.
Though the Trudeau government has promised that recreational, legalized marijuana would be fully available on July 1, 2018, the panelists agreed that many are in the dark about how this will affect not only the trucking industry, but the rest of the country as a while.
“Marijuana is not just the trucking industry’s hot bed issue,” Rosenau said. “It’s going to be an issue in lots of industries.”
Rosenau said he believes and hopes the trucking industry will be taking a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to drivers using the drug while on the job.
“The problem with marijuana is that it’s residual,” he said. “Which means it stays in your body for a while after you consume it. And that’s a huge problem for us for drug testing.”
Rosenau said he trusts that his drivers wouldn’t risk taking the drug with such a safety-sensitive position.
“I always tell my drivers I’m not worried about you,” he said. “Because I know we have professional well-trained drivers working for us. I’m worried about everyone else on the road.”
MacLean said his number one requirement when choosing a carrier, is the quality of drivers they employ.
“I know carriers will always have beautiful new, shiny equipment,” he said. “But, I want to make sure you are attracting and employing good quality drivers…We are already seeing a shortage of drivers, so you carriers need to continue to make the job interesting, whether that be increasing driver pay or well-being. We need to make sure the next generation is interested in trucking.”
To attract drivers, Rosenau said his business has implemented a competitive RSP program for employees.
“If you’re with us for one year, we kick in 2% of your gross salary into an RSP,” he said. “No employee match or anything like that. And we cap it at 10% after five years of service. In the last seven years, we’ve kicked back almost $9 million to our employees and they appreciate that. We want to secure our employees’ futures and their retirement.”
However, even though current employees love the benefit of getting a retirement account, Rosenau says the younger generation isn’t paying attention to retirement savings yet.
“For the younger generation, they care more about the lifestyle they’ll be giving up, not how good a retirement savings plan is,” he said.
Instead to attract the younger drivers, Rosenau said he is active in his community and makes sense he brings his trucks to elementary schools so children can be exposed to the industry at a young age.
“I encourage all of my employees to bring their kids in to work so they can see what we do,” he said. “I work with local radio stations, too and I bring the trucks in to the schools. It makes me really happy seeing kids crawling around in the cab and honk the horn.”
Ondejko said to attract more drivers to his company, he puts a focus safety training and on the improved trucker lifestyle his drivers enjoy.
“We work with driver schools to get some young guys in and driving for us,” he said. “And sometimes they weren’t always ready to drive, so we have do a lot of driver training and that’s really helping us get quality drivers working for us.I also make sure to tell new drivers that we want them to be home every night, so we’ve changed our operation to do that.”