Meet Claire Brickey

Claire is in the accounting office. She is responsible for payroll, account receivable, and implementing Blue Tree Systems. Currently she is going to school with business administration. She is also the mother to a 4 year old (who is turning 5 in July). Her son loves superheroes and is starting tee ball very soon.

Claire has been with MK for two years. She’s enjoyed her time at MK because of the community she found at at the company. As a working mother, the flexibility is a plus.

Marvin Keller currently uses Peoplenet (electronic log for the drivers), but Claire is helping the company transition with Blue Tree. By transitioning to Blue Tree, drivers will get better navigation system and improved GPS. The system is easy to use and intuitive and will improve the driving experience for the drivers.

Previously, Claire worked as a bookkeeper.

Claire loves to spend time with her family (especially her sisters). They enjoy watching movies and playing with Claire’s son. Claire’s dream state is Colorado and would love to live in the woods. She also loves cats.

How to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue

Originally from:

While fleets and truck drivers try to stay compliant are they actually doing anything to address driver fatigue? Photo:
While fleets and truck drivers try to stay compliant are they actually doing anything to address driver fatigue? Photo:

While fatigue and hours of service are frequently used in the same sentence, there’s often just a very tenuous connection between the two. Drivers and fleets work hard to comply with the rules, but are they actually doing anything to address driver fatigue? It’s being tired that puts truck drivers at risk, not running 10 minutes past the deadline for their 30-minute break.

“You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin as the eighth hour ticks over,” says Ron Knipling, noted fatigue and truck safety researcher and author of the truck-safety textbook, Safety for the Long Haul. “The way to approach fatigue management is in terms of health, diet, exercise, lifestyle and conscientious self-management; not externally imposed rules.”

One problem fleets and drivers face with fatigue is that compliance with the hours of service rules is not optional — but fatigue management education is. So money, effort, and time for proper fatigue management education for drivers may take a back seat to compliance training — how to manage hours, how to work the electronic logging device, how to cope with the parking shortage. That can leave drivers in the dark on how to manage the real problem: fatigue.

Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows that over 30% of American workers aged 30-64 are short of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults sleep seven to nine hours per day, but a recent survey found that 30% of civilian-employed adults (approximately 40.6 million workers) reported average sleep duration of six hours or less per day. It’s not known precisely where the truck driver population sits in terms actual hours of sleep per day, but it’s probably statistically similar, if not worse.

The current HOS rules require 10 hours off duty before driving, eight of which must be in the sleeper berth — but they do not and cannot mandate that drivers actually sleep for the seven to nine recommended hours. To use Knipling’s term, conscientious self-management compels most drivers to get as much sleep as they can within their off-duty period, but not everyone can sleep at a given time of the day. Nor can anyone be assured of a full restful sleep if they have stuff on their minds or some physical or medical issue preventing them from getting proper sleep. Obviously, noisy parking lots or sleeping in a dangerous area can affect the quality of sleep.

Short sleep leads inexorably to drowsy driving. The real problem is not that the driver didn’t get enough rest, but failing to recognize that likelihood and to build a little slack into the plan to account for it.

“Even among healthy individuals there’s a huge difference in how susceptible people are to drowsiness,” Knipling says. “Some people have no difficulty staying alert all day long, whereas others can really benefit from a mid-day nap. It all depends on their individual patterns of sleep and wakefulness and their susceptibility to drowsiness.”

According to Knipling, aside from possible medical issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, the top four predictors of individual sleepiness are:

  • individual susceptibility
  • the previous amount of sleep
  • time of day
  • elapsed time since the previous sleep.

“We now have a requirement that drivers take a 30-minute break some time before the end of the eighth hour on duty, but that’s not really a practical solution,” Knipling says. “There needs to be more widespread recognition within the industry that being tired and taking breaks and napping are normal parts of people’s lives.”

Driving at night can be challenging because of the body’s biologically hardwired tendency to sleep when it’s dark. Lighter traffic densities, however, mean it’s statistically safer. Photo: Jim Park
Driving at night can be challenging because of the body’s biologically hardwired tendency to sleep when it’s dark. Lighter traffic densities, however, mean it’s statistically safer. Photo: Jim Park

Fatigue management

Drivers taught to recognize the hazards of a poor night sleep can take steps to mitigate the shortfall by napping during the day or requesting a lighter dispatch. Fleets that embrace a fatigue management approach would be likely to accommodate such a driver. But that’s certainly not all fleets.

What would you say to a driver who told you that he didn’t sleep well last night and he’s not confident that he’ll make a scheduled delivery because he may have to sleep during the day to remain safe?

What do you say to a driver who says she is just too tired to complete a run or make a scheduled appointment?

We addressed that question to Steven Garrish, senior vice president of safety and regulatory compliance at SleepSafe Drivers, a company that provides fatigue management and sleep apnea treatments for trucking and other industries.

“That doesn’t happen very often,” he said with a chuckle. “In this industry’s culture it’s certainly not very macho to admit you’re tired. But I’d say the best, most forward-looking companies would regard the driver as the captain of the ship and will usually defer to the driver’s judgment on being tired. [Regulations prohibit drivers from driving or fleets forcing them to drive if they do not feel up to it, or if they are ill or fatigued.] So, the company has to take the driver at his or her word and let them rest.

“The thing to do is to watch for patterns, to see if this happens frequently with that driver, and if so, to find out why. You don’t want to fire somebody who is having problems, and the better companies are usually willing to try to get to the bottom of the problem.”

There could be any number of issues. Maybe it’s obstructive sleep apnea. Maybe he’s having some problems at home or financially that are literally keeping him awake at night. He might be soldiering on because he doesn’t want his income to suffer.

“Of course, if you discover that he’s always booking off early on Friday, or not getting the work done on Monday after a weekend, then maybe there are other issues that need to be dealt with,” Garrish adds. “And that could certainly involve discipline.”

It’s important to note that fatigued doesn’t necessarily mean asleep at the wheel. Drowsiness, feeling sleepy, and briefly inattentive behavior are all manifestations of fatigue resulting from any of the four predictors mentioned above. And all it takes sometimes is a moment of inattention to cause a crash.

What’s Knipling’s advice for drivers? “Manage the risk factors,” he says. “Try to get as much sleep as you can, be mindful of the time of day as it relates to personal circadian rhythms, consider how long it has been since you last slept and how good a sleep you had previously.”

You can learn more about fatigue management through the North American Fatigue Management program, released in 2013 and developed jointly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Transport Canada, several state and provincial trucking associations, insurance companies and several high-profile motor carriers. There is no charge for the program, and it features instruction modules for drivers, operations personnel, driver spouses and others. It’s available here:

Mark Murrell, a co-founder of CarriersEdge and co-creator of the Best Fleets to Drive For program, says in his evaluations of various fleets, he has seen growing attention to programs such as fatigue management for drivers.

“The smarter fleets are stepping up and figuring out ways to help look after their drivers,” he says. “They are using fatigue management programs to help drivers realize their potential without putting all the emphasis for performance on the driver. Helping drivers understand what makes them tired, like maybe they aren’t at their best early in the morning, can help in scheduling them on more physiologically compatible operations.”

Old problem, modern solution

Grabbing a quick nap during a driving shift is a good way to restore alertness. Scheduling should allow drivers time to nap. Photo Jim Park
Grabbing a quick nap during a driving shift is a good way to restore alertness. Scheduling should allow drivers time to nap. Photo Jim Park

Without ignoring the cornerstones of fatigue management, several technologies are proving useful in preventing crashes related to fatigue. According to Knipling, the most useful might be perclose eyelid monitoring systems that record the reflection of the surface of the eyeball on a camera that can detect the brightness. If the eyelid closes, the reflection dims, triggering a warning.

“Pupil measurement (eye closure) combined with lane tracking devices could provide a couple of different forms of feedback,” he says. “They could provide a general status advisory. They could also show, for example, that you have a normal reading of, say, 90, but you’re now at 70. That could indicate a lower level of alertness. They can probably be pretty effective, but people would have to want to use them.”

Knipling has also explored the use of wearable devices that claim to measure the quality of a night’s sleep by recording body movement while sleeping. “They could be used as an indicator of the quality of sleep you had, but the measurements tend to be crude because they do not account for individual differences in the need for sleep or the physiology of sleep,” he says.

Driver-facing cameras could be useful when used properly, but they can pose a dilemma: What do you do when drivers have an asleep-at-the-wheel event or even a nodding-off moment?

“In some cases, the kneejerk reaction is to fire the driver,” says Garrish. “Is that really the purpose of the technology? The other approach can be to use it as a training tool without disciplining the driver. I don’t think that’s the right approach, either.”

Instead, he says, the right approach for forward-looking fleets is to investigate what happened. “Can we rule out a medical condition such as OSA? A test might be required. Was it a scheduling issue? Was the driver having difficulty getting his needed rest? Were there issues at home that prevented proper sleep? Has this sort of thing happened before and what was the driver’s response that time?” asks Garrish.

Most drivers have an intrinsic sense of self-preservation, and they want to keep earning money for their families. They don’t want to fall asleep and crash. Maybe they never considered the implications of staying awake the night before a shift. Or never considered the cumulative effect of commuting back and forth to work and spending a little time with the family. That can be a scheduling issue, but drivers need to know about the effects of short sleeps and how that can affect their alertness later in the day. You have to teach drivers this stuff. It’s Fatigue Management 101.

A lot of drivers, especially the older ones, treat these problems as just part of the job, the way it has always been. That’s not the right way to look at it anymore. The company can be supportive of the problems drivers may be having, and some willingness to try to solve them can lead to safer, healthier, and happier drivers.

Meet Darby Brown

Darby has been driving for Marvin Keller for three years. Originally he went to school for business information systems, but life brought Darby to trucking. Trucking is a solid gig, but being away from the family is tough. Darby and his wife talk on the phone twice a day to keep in contact, while taking advantage of the time they have together at home. He’s asked his wife to team drive, but she isn’t a fan of larger vehicles. She’s come on the road with Darby twice and she loved the experience. It’s a time for her to relax; it’s a lot like a mini vacation.

On the drives, Darby enjoys audiobooks and music. He is currently listening to a lot of blues along with other genres.  He really enjoys the Jack Reacher series on audiotape. Truman Capote, In True Blood, is also another classic, he suggests.

Driving around the United States, Darby has found other states to be beautiful. The midwest is quite flat, while the other states have a lot more to offer in terms of different views. Taking one of the Georgia highways, Darby went through smaller towns and they were gorgeous. Missouri also has smaller towns that were hidden along the drive. He always keeps in mind the surprise locations so he can bring his wife later on a future trip.


New Trailers with Loading Sensor!


Marvin Keller just started receiving new trailers that are coming in and they are from a new brand, Vanguard. Vanguard is a company that has been a staple in the industry and originates from Northern Indiana. The features include air release slider pins, auto inflation systems, and come fully galvanized.

The load sensor will be able to tell if the trailer has a load or not. The load sensor uses three different lasers to detect the trailer’s availability. This is a great benefit because it will save time for the drivers to look for an empty trailer. With the new system, the Marvin Keller office will be able to know which trailers to look for. Eventually, the load sensor will be tied together with the Blue Tree System. This way there will be more communication between the trucks and the home office.

Father and Son Drivers, John and Terry


John Walls has been with Marvin Keller for about 10-15 years. Ever since John started with MK, his son, Terry was interested in trucking. He loved the idea that he was a name and not just a number at the company. When John became 23, he knew that he wanted to drive for Marvin Keller. Terry is hoping that he can drive with MK from a long time. He comes from a family of drivers and has learned a lot from his dad and his uncle. Growing up, Terry would go on the road with his dad. Terry has had dreams of driving the green truck. Getting into the business, Terry is appreciative of his dad being out on the road to provide for the family.

Terry has felt incredibly welcomed at MK and sees nothing but smiles. He expected to be a bit intimidated, but that wasn’t true at Marvin Keller. He was surprised to see that the equipment was well taken care of and not beat up. What he found at Marvin Keller is what he would describe as a genuine trucking company. “The real deal”, he explains.

Terry is currently training to start driving soon. Training has been a lengthy process but he feels that it is worth it to be safe on the road. Terry is looking forward to driving solo and visiting other places in the United States; seeing new things and looking at beautiful scenery.

Terry is excited to start a new chapter at Marvin Keller. When asked if he would ever team drive with his dad, he said, “No. I’d prefer to drive alone. I love my dad, but I’d like to drive on my own.”

For fun, Terry enjoys hunting and fishing as well as hiking. He also loves to shoot compound bows / archery. He enjoys sitting on the porch and watching the sun go down. Terry enjoys talking to people and gaining new experiences. He describes himself as “one of the dying breed…one of the last country boys on the road”.

Trucking Industry Struggles With Growing Driver Shortage


A tractor-trailer rolls along the highway in Miami last November. The trucking industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand, according to an industry analysis.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

America needs more truck drivers. The trucking industry is facing a growing shortage of drivers that is pushing some retailers to delay nonessential shipments or pay high prices to get their goods delivered on time.

A report from the American Trucking Associations says more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand.

Derek Leathers, CEO of Omaha-based trucking company Werner Enterprises, tells Here & Now‘sMeghna Chakrabarti that truckers drive the American economy, but in recent years the industry has struggled to attract new drivers.

“Being a truck driver was something that carried a certain level of honor with it,” he says. “They were kind of the ‘knights of the road,’ and we lost that somewhere along the way, and I think often trucks are portrayed as sort of this negative reality on the road.”

The ATA report notes that the industry has struggled with a driver shortage for the past 15 years. During the Great Recession, freight volumes dropped, allowing the industry to meet demand with fewer drivers. But when volumes recovered in 2011, the driver shortage became a problem again.

According to an industry analysis by DAT Solutions, just one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018, which is the lowest ratio since 2005.

“In addition to the sheer lack of drivers, fleets are also suffering from a lack of qualified drivers, which amplifies the effects of the shortage on carriers,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This means that even as the shortage numbers fluctuate, it remains a serious concern for our industry, for the supply chain and for the economy at large.”

An aging fleet of drivers is one of the main reasons for the driver shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old. The industry also heavily relies on male drivers — only 6 percent of commercial truck drivers are women, according to the ATA.

“Demographics are working against the industry,” Leathers says. “The trucking industry average age is about 10 years older than the average age across other comparable industries like manufacturing and construction. So as those retirements are taking place, we’re just not seeing the same level of new entrants into the industry.”

The industry has struggled to attract new drivers because the lifestyle of a trucker is less than ideal. Drivers are often forced to be on the road for extended periods of time, causing fatigue, and many suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea.

The Trump administration implemented new safety regulations in December that require commercial truck drivers to use electronic logging devices to record their hours. But many truckers say the federal mandate does not provide the flexibility they need.

“Federal regulators simply don’t have a clue,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group, told NPR in December. “They don’t have a clue what truckers do, how they go about doing it, the environment that they live in, the schedules and things like that, the demands of the job.”

Leathers says his company has increased wages, so drivers can make up for lost time on the road. The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers was $41,340 in May 2016, according to the BLS.

“Pay in the industry’s come up considerably. Here at Werner our pay’s up 17 percent over the last couple of years,” Leathers says. “First-year entrants into the industry now make around $50,000 a year depending on what part of the business they go in. So it’s a good job. It pays well; you can build a family around it. It’s about getting that awareness out there.”

Meet Greg Sullivan


Greg Sullivan has been with Marvin Keller for 11 years. Greg’s been around trucks his entire life, starting out at a dealership and then joining Marvin Keller. He loves the job because everyday is different and there’s always something to learn. He’s particularly excited about the new technology that is being developed for trucks. The monitoring, computer advancements, and new controls are incredibly exciting compared to what was available ten years ago. At the same time, to keep up with all the new updates, it can be tricky to troubleshoot the new tech. Having good relationships with the vendors is key. Always down for a challenge, Greg loves that he is required to figure out solutions on the job.

Greg really enjoys being at Marvin Keller because of the people. There’s a lot of good people on the team, and Greg feels like Joe did a great job building a solid crew at MK.  Being at the company feels more like being a part of a family. The shop is one of the nicest he’s seen, which is a bonus.

While Greg has never driven a truck, he loves being in the shop. He understands how there are a lot of difficulties being a truck driver, and he enjoys being able to help make the job less stressful for the team.

One of the most important parts of the job to him is building relationships with drivers. He feels that it is important that the drivers feel cared for and strives to ensure that the trucks are in tip top shape to make the drives a smoother experience. Once you gain a driver’s trust, the job becomes a lot more meaningful.

Greg is a father to three sons and a daughter. One of his sons is also in the trucking business. Derby is Greg’s Jack Russell Terrier and his best friend. Spending time with grandkids is Greg’s favorite, and they are fond of going to demolition derbys on the weekend. Greg also loves to restore antique tractors and enjoys being outdoors.

What women want: home time, good pay and training, flexible scheduling

Original article from: The Trucker 

Goldie Seymour, National Carrier Inc.’s 2014 Driver of the Year and their first woman to earn the title, said, “When I first started, females didn’t drive. You just didn’t see women on the road” as truck drivers. (Courtesy: NCI)

Although women make up around 50 percent of the population, they make up only 6 percent of truck drivers — 5 percent if we’re talking owner-operators says OOIDA — and far too few women hold board and management positions at trucking carriers and other trucking-related businesses.

It’s not that trucking hasn’t made great strides in bringing women into the industry.

After all, professional women drivers who were industry pioneers remember when there were no restroom facilities for women and women truckers were an anomaly on the road.

Goldie Seymour, National Carrier Inc.’s 2014 Driver of the Year and their first woman to earn the title, said, “When I first started, females didn’t drive. You just didn’t see women on the road” as truck drivers. “I can remember when you took a shower, you had to make someone stand guard because the showers were in the men’s restrooms.”

Women drivers also had to put up with lewd comments on the CB and were told to go back to the kitchen where they belonged.

So trucking has come a long way, baby. But there’s still a long way to go, and it can’t happen soon enough with truck turnover at 95 percent or higher for large carriers and 84 percent or higher for small truckload carriers. Not to mention that the American Trucking Associations is pegging the driver shortage at 50,000 with the potential to rise to 174,000 by 2024.

“Granted, we have to do better at attracting women to the industry,” said David Heller, the Truckload Carriers Association’s vice president of legislative affairs.

“But we might as well ask where are all the drivers, period, as where are all the women drivers,” he said. “There’s no magic bullet.”

Part of it is “overcoming stereotypes, I think. You talk about drivers and you’re just used to saying he or him, not she or her; you catch yourself. The question of where all the drivers are is now gender neutral.

“It’s a whole new horizon for our industry,” he said, adding that perhaps the same things that attract younger drivers, such as technology-laden truck cabs and more creature comforts, will attract more women as well.

The biggest reason more women aren’t in the industry is that trucking’s image is still that of an all-male job, says Ellen Voie, president and CEO of Women In Trucking (WIT) and herself a CDL holder. “Women just don’t look at the industry as being for them. They see a truck and don’t know anything about it. There’s no connection between that gallon of milk and the driver on the road.”

Trucking’s got to do a better job with that, Voie said, and toward that end she’s come up with a series of dolls dressed in uniforms depicting various trucking-related jobs and not surprisingly, a truck driver is the first one to be presented this spring.

You’ll hear many in the trucking industry talking about a “culture of safety.”

What about creating a culture that attracts and retains females — drivers, dock workers and middle and senior level administrators?

  1. Duie Pyle Chief Operating Officer Randy Swart, said the LTL carrier, which also offers specialized truckload services through their brokerage and TL solutions, hasn’t focused on hiring women, per se.

But, “It’s more that of a culture. Our culture and processes in general have resulted in that.”

The thing is, he added, is that Pyle promotes people of both sexes from within and gives them the training and opportunity to move up the corporate ladder.

Specifically, he said, the carrier recognizes “discretionary effort,” that is, employees who go above and beyond the norm. These men and women aren’t forced out of a job they love but are given the opportunity and training to move up if they choose.

Having women in leadership and visible helps drivers see women at the top who would understand them, said Voie.

In WIT’s constantly updated index of publicly traded companies, some carriers have no women in leadership or on their boards, which Voie said she found “amazing” in this day and age.

As Swart mentioned, however, not all women drivers want to move up the corporate ladder. What attracts them to trucking is what attracts many of their male counterparts: They want the freedom of the open road and they want a good, reliable paycheck.

Your average female driver is already in her 50s, Voie noted. “A lot of them don’t want an office position; they love being on the road.”

Women want the same things as men, really, said Garner Trucking President and CEO Sherri Garner Brumbaugh: More home time and time with their children.

Since women are usually the designated care-giver when it comes to children, it becomes a juggling act. Garner Trucking, Inc. has answered that problem by offering both men and women drivers four days home and four days on the road.

But with both men and women drivers, she said, “there has to be a strong support system” at home. The truck drivers with a strong support system “are the one who are successful.”

More frequently, she said, male drivers want more time with their children, and it’s “hard to argue with that.”

The most successful driver, male or female, has to have a strong support system at home, Garner Brumbaugh noted.

With a woman driver, “the spouse has to be comfortable with the wife out driving a truck” she said. Research by the U.S. Department of Labor has found that the younger the children at home, the greater the challenge of the mother working away from home. Take the days and weeks truck drivers spend on the road and the problem for female drivers multiplies exponentially.

Truck driver Deb Bosworth, a charter member of WIT said: “Women say, ‘I couldn’t do that,’ and I say, ‘sure you could. You just need the right training. But if you want to be home every night, it’s probably not for you.’”

Stay tuned for more about attracting women to the trucking industry.

Introducing Amanda


Amanda is from St. Louis area. She got interested in trucking ever since she was in college. The idea of a stable job that included traveling was really appealing to her. Before, she was always working retail or factory jobs and trucking seemed like a welcome change. She came across Marvin Keller through a college talk with Greg Allsop. At the talk, she discovered out that MK is a family oriented company. They are a company that really cares about drivers as well as being a leader in the industry. Being a smaller company meant that she wasn’t just a number, but a person. Everything from the benefits, training, and opportunities seemed like a better fit to Amanda versus a larger company. “And the trucks are my favorite color, green!” Amanda says.

When entering the trucking industry, Amanda was a little apprehensive about being a female driver. Getting started with MK has been easy, she loves that the company cares about safety. She’s excited to train with Tina and is grateful that her trainer is a woman.

One concern that Amanda has is that she has driven in traffic exactly twice, but she’s confident that after training she will be ready to hit the road. Before becoming a driver, the furthest Amanda has travelled was to Texas, so she’s excited to see the United States. Amanda liked the fact that Marvin Keller cares about the comfort of their drives while also actively trying to recruit more female drivers.

Amanda is fiercely independent and loves the idea of being able to support herself.

In her free time, Amanda would love to see the bigger tourist areas in the US. She also loves to read, crochet, catch up on her favorite shows. Her favorite book currently is “The Tempest” by Shakespeare and her favorite show is “Merlin”. Amanda’s favorite drink is honeydew boba tea. She would eventually like to skydive, rock climb, and kayak.

Could Self-Driving Trucks Be Good for Truckers?

Freightliner "Inspiration Truck." (Photo: Daimler)

Original Article from the Atlantic

The outlook for trucking jobs has been grim of late. Self-driving trucks, several reports and basic logic have suggested, are going to wipe out truckers. Trucking is going to be the next great automation bloodbath.

But a counter-narrative is emerging: No, skeptics in the industry, government, academia are saying, trucking jobs will not be endangered by autonomous driving, and in the brightest scenarios, as in new research by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, there may be an increase in trucking jobs as more self-driving vehicles are introduced.

“We’ve been disappointed over the last year to see a lot of stories about how self-driving trucks are going to be this huge problem for truck drivers,” says Alden Woodrow, the product lead for self-driving trucks at Uber. “That’s not at all what we think the outcome is going to be.”

For one, Uber does not believe that self-driving trucks will be doing “dock to dock” runs for a very long time. They see a future in which self-driving trucks drive highway miles between what they call transfer hubs, where human drivers will take over for the last miles through complex urban and industrial terrain.

For that reason, Woodrow says that he saw their version of self-driving trucks as complementing humans, not replacing them. To make their case, Uber created a model of the industry’s labor market based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Then, they created scenarios that looked at a range of self-driving-truck adoption rates and how often those autonomous trucks would be on the road in comparison to human-driven vehicles.

Their numbers for autonomous-truck adoption are intentionally very aggressive, Woodrow says, corresponding to 25, 50, and 70 percent of today’s trucks being self-driven. These do not reflect an Uber prediction that between 500,000 and 1.5 million self-driving trucks will be on the road by 2028, but rather they allow the model to show the dynamics in the labor market that might result from widespread adoption. “Imagine that self-driving trucks are incredibly successful and impactful,” he says. “What would that mean?”

The other set of numbers in the model—the utilization rate of the self-driving trucks—is the component that leads Uber to a different analysis of the effect that these vehicles will have on truckers. Basically, if the self-driving trucks are used far more efficiently, it would drive down the cost of freight, which would stimulate demand, leading to more business. And, if more freight is out on the roads, and humans are required to run it around local areas, then there will be a greater, not lesser, need for truck drivers.

“If you believe the [automation] narrative that’s out there today, it is especially counterintuitive,” Woodrow says, “because the more self-driving trucks you have and the higher utilization they have, the more jobs it creates.”

This is not the story that’s prevailed in the last couple of years. Goldman Sachs, for example, predicted trucker job losses of 25,000 per month as self-driving trucks roll out. McKinsey Global Institute put out a report with the possibility of 1.5 million jobs lost in trucking over the next 10 years. The International Transport Forum proposed that 2 million American and European truckers could be directly displaced by 2030.

Truckers, in fact, have become the go-to example for people who should be worried about robots taking their jobs. The technology for highway driving is very close to deployment, and therefore, these reports have assumed, the humans in the trucks will not be necessary soon.

But people within the trucking industry have always been far more skeptical about the potential for job displacement. They have argued that truckers don’t just drive on highways. These jobs, in fact, require a wide variety of skills and the ability to operate in a host of unusual physical and social environments.

“There are so many things a driver does,” says Joe Rajkovacz, the director of governmental affairs and communications at the Western States Trucking Association. “I just don’t believe that you’re ever going to see, at least in the world that’s imagined right now, this fully autonomous truck without anyone in it.” For example, he pointed out that if a self-driving truck breaks down a hundred miles from nowhere, a company would have to send a tow truck out into the vast spaces of the American West, whereas an onboard driver or operator could make a variety of basic fixes and continue the trip.

Uber’s Woodrow agrees that drivers do an astonishing variety of things beyond driving. In his first days on the job, after arriving at Uber from Alphabet’s X research wing, he took a ride from Stockton to a cannery with a load of tomatoes, taking notes along the way about what the drivers he encountered were doing. “The drivers are getting in and out of the truck. They are moving axles. They are checking brakes, checking air hoses. They are talking to people. Building a self-driving truck is not just about finding a way to have the truck drive in a straight line on a highway,” he says. “There is so much to be done there before you get anywhere near being able to do the things that truck drivers are doing in an industrial facility or even on surface streets.”

Over time, Rajkovacz has become a believer that the technology could make truckers’ lives better, not necessarily by changing where they drive, but how. “In a perfect world, I could hop in the bunk in Salt Lake City, optimize my speed settings for fuel economy, literally set it at 55, and say, ‘I’m taking my siesta,’ wake back up, and take over in Reno,” he says. “I get that people think I’m smoking bird shit, but that’s what we are ultimately talking about with this technology.”

Making truckers’ lives better seems like it should be the major focus for trucking companies. The industry regularly promotes that there is a huge shortage of truck drivers. They don’t tend to mention that’s because the jobs are so hard—physically, emotionally, and economically—that the industry is approaching 100 percent turnover per year, according to Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. “The labor case for self-driving trucks is really pretty good,” Viscelli says. “You got this crappy job that no one really wants to do long-term.”

People can be away from their families for 200 days a year. Most young people are not willing to make that trade-off. So, right now, and in the foreseeable future as the trucking workforce continues to age, there are likely to be too few drivers, not too many.

This might change in Uber’s scenarios. The deployment of transfer hubs—or what Viscelli has more evocatively called “truck ports”—would mean that most working truckers stay fairly close to home. This would mean a major shift in the geographic structure of the work. Right now, truckers can live in far-flung places where their wages go further. In a world filled with truck ports, the rising number of local trucking jobs would be more geographically concentrated around centers of production and consumption. Northern California, yes. Northern Idaho, no. Some of these long-haul truckers would find their wages dropping or lose their livelihoods as self-driving trucks drove down the cost of highway freight shipping.

That said, for most people, the truck port could be an improvement on the current situation.

“The truck port idea is great for a lot of reasons: Congestion, fuel economy, which brings in greens and transportation planners, even your average commuter is going to be thrilled to have 10,000 trucks out of L.A.’s 4 o’clock congestion,” says Viscelli. “The big question is what those local jobs at the truck ports are going to look like.”

Right now, there is already a model of short-haul trucking in and out of (shipping) ports; it’s called drayage. And those jobs, from everything I’ve ever heard, are considered the worst in the business. “Local, for-hire driving has traditionally been lower paid and has some of the worst labor abuses,” Viscelli said. “And the quintessential example of this is port driving.”

Drayage truckers are paid on a per-load basis and end up bearing the brunt of any congestion at the port or on highways. The workforce in many coastal ports is primarily made up of immigrants without a lot of other options. They scrape by in small companies or as so-called owner-operators making very little money and working 18-hour days.

“What Uber is doing could end up creating good local jobs, but for that to happen, we have to have a robust enough policy framework to ensure that workers aren’t mistreated,” Viscelli said. “If you have labor that is poorly paid and treated, it’ll be used inefficiently.”

Doug Bloch, the political director of the Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents 100,000 teamsters in the West, had an even darker vision for how the truck-port model could play out.

“They are going to be creating more of a vicious circle. You’ll have independent contract drivers hauling stuff between the hubs and they’re just going to be more crappy jobs,” Bloch said. “And what will end up happening is this further erosion in job quality and this erosion is going to exacerbate the problem of the truck-driver shortage and it could potentially undercut employers like UPS, who have employees who make good wages and good benefits.”

In an industry where workers are already disempowered by a nasty labor modelthat has held down wages and kept many truckers from receiving benefits, the introduction of new technology is not going to go well for workers, no matter how well-intentioned Uber might be.

Even Bloch, though, thought the general vision embedded in the Uber study of an increase in transfer hubs was likely. “There are definitely going to be jobs created by the changes in the supply chain,” Bloch said, though he hastened to add, “But I’m not sure I agree that we’re going to have a net job increase.”

The impact that self-driving trucks would have on trucking jobs seemed obvious to people typing up reports on computers about the industry: Of course, self-driving trucks would mean less truckers. But what’s clear from the trucking-industry experts is that there is a lot about the job and the industry that has not been adequately captured in the studies that predict a job apocalypse. Or as the Western States Trucking Association’s Rajkovacz, who drove a truck for nearly 30 years, says, “I got more time sitting on the shitter in a truck stop than these people have spent driving trucks.”

In particular, the question has been approached as a technology issue, rather than a social or political one. “This model makes sense only if you fundamentally refactor the way we do wages in trucking,” says Karen Levy, a Cornell University sociologist who studies trucking and technology. “And Uber can’t do that itself.”

But Uber is a much more powerful entity than a bunch of disconnected, basically freelance truck drivers who couldn’t even collectively bargain if they wanted to, thanks to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Uber might be able to push for changes in how truckers get paid, especially for waiting time at the end points for pickups and drop-offs, which is currently unpaid in most cases.

“It sucks that maybe this company is the one we have to rely on to make these broad changes, but I’m kind of putting my eggs in this basket,” Levy says. “The government can’t and won’t. The truckers don’t have the political power. It comes at a convenient time for Uber, too because they need to do some good stuff.”

In the end, every expert I talked to for this story, from the teamsters to academia, believes that the broad strokes of Uber’s analysis have some merit and represent a potential positive path for autonomous trucking to play in the labor market.

“I was prepared to read this proposal and say, ‘Ugh! You’re the worst!’” Levy says. “But as long as Uber makes pushes on the organizational and regulatory front as they’re making these technical pushes, there might be something here.”

Infinit-I, Our New Training Program

We are proud to announce Infinit-I which will replace ProTread as our training platform. We use the training platform for Driver on-boarding as well as Safety Campaigns.

There are a few reasons we are making this change. The first is to shorten the length of the training. Other vendors are 30 to 45 minutes per video while Infinit-I keeps their videos at 3-7 minutes.

In addition to this, we also agree with Infinit-I’s philosophy: to increase retention of training. Behavioral psychologists say an adult will remember 80% of the information you give them in a 10 minute span vs only 20% in a 60 minute span. Shorter training leads to increased retention of information.

Lastly Infinit-I gives us the flexibility to add our own content. We can now add custom made videos, powerpoints and other documents like our employee handbook.

We believe that our Drivers will enjoy Infinit-I more than ProTread.

In Memory of Ray Schnautz

Ray Schnautz was a long time Owner Operator and Driver with Marvin Keller. A few weeks ago we were devastated to learn that Ray had passed away. We gathered some people who knew him best and shared our best memories of him during his time here at Marvin Keller.

“I started working at Marvin Keller in 2006, and Ray started a few years after. I remember the first day he came in. We had a co-worker named Sharon who worked here back then, and Ray said Sharon reminded him of his late aunt. We thought that was the funniest thing. Whenever he came in here, he would call Sharon his aunt. He was a very personable man.” – Darlene

“When Ray started with us 8 or 9 years ago, he was one of our first Owner Operators. He lived in Houston, TX, but came back to Clay City, Illinois to take care of mother who was having health issues. Mind you, he still had his personal residence in Houston. That is the type of guy he was, always willing to sacrifice for others. After a few years, Marvin Keller helped Ray get his own authority, then he ran exclusively for us. He loved the idea of our team dispatching him and handling the back office side of the business so he could focus on the part he loved the most, driving and talking to customers. Once he got going… watch out. They say men use about 7,000 words a day, Ray, more like 9,000. I couldn’t possibly remember all the times he helped bail us out of a service failure or pull off a run on time that most average guys could not do. He was a great part of our team and will be truly missed.” – Rick

“Ray was very loyal and dedicated to the company. He cared a lot about his family. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with him all these years. We offer our condolences and wish them comfort in this hard time. We will miss having him around.” – Joe

“He used to call me every morning because he knew I got here at 6:00am. I think he just needed someone to talk to. He knew I was always at my desk to pick up his calls. Around the office, we knew him and his wife pretty well. He was a great driver, although some say he could be difficult to get a long with, he was my friend.” – Darlene

No longer in our trucks, but forever in our hearts.

Ray Schnautz (1940 – 2017)

Protect Yourself to Prevent Colds and Flu

Article from Everyday Health 

By: Diana Rodriguez, Reviewed by: Lindsay Marcellin, MD, MPH

During the late fall and throughout winter, most people are cooped up inside, often times sharing space with others who may be sneezing and sniffling. You may not be able to completely prevent colds and flu this time of year, but by practicing good hygiene and being careful to avoid cold germs, you may escape cold and flu season unscathed.

  1. Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against the flu viruses going around each year. Head to your doctor early on in flu season (as soon as the vaccine is available) and get yourself vaccinated. While flu activity usually peaks in January and February, it can continue all the way into May. Studies have found that in healthy adults, the flu vaccine can decrease the chances of coming down with the flu by as much as 70 percent to 90 percent. But unfortunately, the flu vaccine can’t completely prevent flu in everyone. Though there’s still a chance you could get sick, the flu vaccine can lessen the severity and duration of your symptoms.
  2. Another of the most effective ways to prevent colds and the flu is simply washing your hands properly and frequently. “Wash your hands a lot, and encourage those around you to wash their hands,” says Nancy Elder, MD, associate professor and director of research in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. This will help to get rid of cold germs you pick up from doorknobs and stair rails, and keep you from getting them into your body. One study found that college students who washed hands frequently had fewer cold and flu symptoms.
  3. It’s probably common sense not to shake a sick person’s hands when you want to prevent a cold — but that’s far from the only place that you can pick up cold germs. A recent study looked for the presence of viruses on classroom surfaces and found that the flu virus was found on as many as 50 percent of surfaces. So take some time when you clean up your office or home to wipe down germy areas — light switches, doorknobs, your phone, your computer, and your TV remote — with your favorite cleaning product. Minimizing exposure to germs can help prevent colds and the flu.
  4. Whether you’re nibbling on finger foods or you’re a nail biter, your hands have a habit of finding their way into your mouth, not to mention your nose, and eyes — all areas where germs can enter the body. And if you haven’t recently made it to a sink to scrub your hands, you’re inoculating yourself with those cold germs. To prevent cold and flu viruses, don’t touch “your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands,” says Dr. Elder. This is how germs get inside your body and grow into an upper respiratory infection. You should also encourage others not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth with their hands to help prevent cold and flu viruses from spreading.
  5. General good health practices keep your body strong and ready to fend off cold germs and the flu virus. And that includes drinking plenty of water. In fact, one recent study found that staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses. Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids, especially water, and by avoiding caffeinated drinks. Shoot for six to eight glasses of water per day, more if the weather is hot, says Elder.
  6. Exercise not only makes you feel great and helps you stay fit, but it also boosts your immune system and can help prevent cold and flu viruses from making you sick. Additionally, warding off extra weight is important for overall health, particularly when it comes to preventing colds and flu. A recent study found that overweight and obese people were more likely to fall ill or be injured, and researchers determined that higher BMI indicated an increased risk of injury and illness.
  7. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can help keep the body healthy and protect it from “bad” bacteria — and there’s even some thought that taking probiotics may help to prevent cold and flu viruses. In fact, a recent study found that regular use of probiotics kept people healthier and reduced the incidence of upper respiratory infections (like the common cold). Consider eating foods that contain probiotics or taking probiotic supplements to prevent flu.
  8. Let’s face it, you can’t always get to a sink when you need to wash germs off of your hands. So keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer handy is a good idea to help disinfect hands and prevent flu and cold viruses. One study of university students found that keeping hands clean with hand sanitizer reduced the incidence of upper respiratory illnesses.
  9. A healthy diet can strengthen your immune system — and help you prevent flu and cold viruses from attacking. “Fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, and complex carbohydrates are the keys to good nutrition that will stoke your immune system,” says Elder. A recent study found that providing seniors with plenty of nutrients powered their immune systems and helped them to prevent the flu virus.
  10. Getting enough shut-eye each night offers bigger benefits than staying awake during a long afternoon at the office. Studies have found that getting enough sleep is essential for healthy immune function, and that insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality is associated with lowered immune function. So that means catching enough zzz’s at night can help prevent cold and flu viruses from slowing you down.

What Do You Think of the T-Pod?

Article from WDET

Photo WDET Pat Batcheller 

What’s a truck without a trucker behind the wheel? To one Swedish entrepreneur, it’s an opportunity to revolutionize cargo delivery as we know it.

Behold the T-pod.

The T-pod is Einride‘s contribution to the wave of electric vehicles sweeping the automotive and transportation industries. According to the company’s web site, this is the first electrically-propelled, self-driving transport vehicle. It has no cabin, so it doesn’t require a driver. Instead, someone operates it remotely.

Instead of sitting inside a truck, they are operating the system itself,” says Einride CEO Robert Falck. “Instead of removing the driver, we’re giving him a completely new way of working.”

OK, so if they’re not actually driving the T-pod, where are they?

With a cup of coffee in hand, in front of a computer, driving and operating a fleet of T-pods,” Falck says.

The T-pod’s main function is to carry cargo from one point to another, such as a warehouse-to-warehouse trip. Einride says the vehicle can haul up to 15 standard pallets or 20 metric tons of cargo. It can also go 125 miles on a single charge on its 200 kilowatt-hour battery. It may not require an actual driver on board, but Falck says it doesn’t necessarily make the truck driver obsolete. Operators will be trained to work in more controlled environments and how to use the latest information technology.

It’ll be more of a white collar job than a blue collar job,” Falck says. “Having experience from a truck background and knowing what transport is, knowing the business is really going to be beneficial.”

Falck says Einride is testing T-pods in Sweden and hopes to have more than 200 of them on the road by 2020.

Falck spoke with WDET’s Pat Batcheller at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit. Click on the audio player to hear the conversation.

65 Keeps Everyone Alive

When I first started driving here in America, I scoffed at the idea of being limited to 65 miles per hour. Three months later after seeing numerous crashes around me from other random truckers, I have had a change of heart. Driving semi’s at 65 actually keeps the roads around us safer.

Years ago I did a trip to Morocco. I drove with high speed through a little village and was pulled over just outside of town. The cop ticketed me for speeding, and rightfully so. The price was 5 Deutsch marks. With stones of steel, I gave him 10 explaining that I would pass the same route back within 2 days. He didn’t look happy.

Driving fast is not hard. Anyone can do that. Driving safely is tough, especially nowadays with so many more road users around you. It’s our duty as truck drivers to keep the roads safe because other users of the road seem to have no clue that we are driving a 80,000 pound bullet. Or when loaded for Sherwin Williams, a 80,000 pound paintball.

In my opinion safe driving starts with the driver. Not with governors, not with big rigs, not with perfect equipment or perfect maintenance, but with us. Let’s lead by example. Ignore the “Blow-by-billies,” ignore the talk on the CB, shut it off if needed and drive the safe way.

Executing pre and post trip inspections is a good way to start. It helps ensure your safety and the safety of others. Greg Allsop gave me some good advice; the post trip check is more important because it will give you 10 hours to get defects resolved before you can drive again.

Here are some other safe tips:

  1. Keep 6-10 seconds following distance, and in wet weather double it.
  2. In icy weather, slide trailer tandems to the back, this will give you more pressure on the drives, don’t exceed the 34k.
  3. Rigs pull in front of you, so slow down.
  4. If someone is tailgating you, just keep driving safely. They will pass you.
  5. Slow down in heavy traffic, this gives you to time to assess surroundings and respond safely.
  6. Remember when going uphill, you slow down automatically.
  7. If you need to go uphill in snow, wait and see how well others are able to go uphill.
  8. For new drivers, take your time and don’t let others influence you.

Best regards

Bert Verhoeven (Flying Dutchman)


BBB, Blow-by Billies

We all know the type. Blow-by Billies I call them. The type that blow by in the middle of the night at speeds that make you jump and make you ask yourself, is this safe?

I like to drive at night and early morning. Because of my travels all over the world prior to landing this job here at Marvin Keller, I am blessed without a biological clock. Or maybe you can call it a burden.

During these past weeks I have been driving to North Carolina and have been able to conquer the Appalachian Mountains with Thumper, my trusty rig. During these trips I have seen more than one Blow-by Billies whiz by me at high, uncontrollable speeds and end up in a wreck.

On the way down a mountain in the Appalachians, one of these Blow-by Billie semi trucks speeding down the mountain. He ended up smoking his brakes and toppling over in the escape ramp.

The other truck blew by in the third lane. The driver couldn’t hold the curve that came up and crashed pretty bad, sliding on the wet pavement.

It was truly a wake up call if there ever was one. At 3:30 in the morning I saw the driver hanging in his seat belt covered in blood, rig a total loss, family in despair. I pray that both drivers are alive and have learned to slow down. It’s always brutal learning the hard way, but there are a multitude of lessons to be learned.

Best regards,

Bert Verhoeven (Flying Dutchman)

Man Killed by Semi Near Oakwood

Read Original Post Here

We wanted to share this posting to remind everyone to stay aware of their surroundings and be extra careful, especially in the colder months. Slight oversight can cause huge, irreversible implications.

UPDATE: Vermilion County Coroner, Jane McFadden identified the victim as Kevin Edwards. She said an autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.

OAKWOOD — A Jacksonville man died Tuesday night after being hit by a tractor trailer while walking in a gasoline station lot just off Interstate 74.

Illinois State Police said the 47-year-old man was in the east parking lot at the Phillips 66 station south of I-74 when he was struck about 6:45 p.m. by the truck driven by a 45-year-old man from Martinsville, Ohio. The name of the Jacksonville man has not been released.

According to police, the truck dragged the man onto Oakwood Road to the I-74 eastbound ramp. The driver pulled over on the ramp after thinking his vehicle was having mechanical problems. A witness told the driver his truck had struck a pedestrian in the parking lot.

No charges have been filed.

Dino Thompson, General Spirit of Comradery

I went through Lewis and Clark Community college. The instructors here talked pretty highly at Marvin Keller, smaller, family oriented company. It caught my interest so I did my own research and learned that this was the place I was looking for.

I was a Union Plumber and Pipe Fitter. I was working in a refinery to keep it running and fitting in new units. I had been doing that since 1996. When the economy slowed down in 2008, I spent a lot of time sitting. I started to wonder if I could actually earn a steady paycheck to see the country.

Being a Pipe Fitter has a certain conditions that are similar to the over-the-road lifestyle. You work 12-14 hours a day 6-7 days a week for months on end. So I already had a work ethic and attitude of staying busy. I was used to not getting home often. Obviously it’s different sleeping in a truck rather than sleeping in your own house or hotel room. For me that made the transition easier.

I think there is a negative stigma that comes with the trucking industry that is simply not true. Misinformed folks think the trucking industry is full of scary people who It’s not just this company, the whole industry is full of really great people. There has been more than one occasion where truckers have gone out of their way to help me with something. There’s actually a general spirit of comradery to help other when you can. Now that I’m a trucker, I can contribute to that as well.

For anyone outside the industry, I would definitely recommend making the change. Underneath the stigma, there are a lot of good things in this industry.

Deb’s Story

My name is Deb Welton and I am a Financial Analyst for Marvin Keller. I conduct analysis for the financial aspects of operations, as well as various special projects requested by Joe. For most of the past year I have been installing a new accounting system called Paycor. I was the primary contact for the company to get this software up and running.

I basically look at financial data and create schedules and studies for Joe and Rick, to help them decide how to best control costs and maximize profit. I like working with people, but I really like working with numbers too. I don’t really get to interact much with Drivers in this role. Sadly my contact is pretty limited to Joe, Rick, and the Accounting Department.

I attained my MBA from U of I Springfield, specializing in Finance. I’m very proud of that because I attained that while working full-time. I worked for 25 years with Illinois Power as a Financial Analyst. After a while I ended up in the rate department, helping design rate studies and rate plans to take testimony to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Unfortunately the owners of my company were bought out by Ameren. Many of the jobs including mine were relocated to Saint Louis. I couldn’t go relocate at that time so I left the company and worked for a few different companies including a local school district and a software company in Mt. Zion as a Financial Analyst. Luckily I ended up at Marvin Keller in 2012, working as a Financial Analyst.

Then in a sudden turn of events, my husband passed away August of 2014. I stayed for one year until mid year of August 2015, but I decided I needed a little break. In total I had worked for Marvin Keller a little over four years. I worked part-time for an insurance company in Decatur and got my life and health insurance license. Then last fall Joe contacted me and said that Marvin Keller was going to installing the new Paycor system and that he wanted me to come aboard and help.

Joe knew my record and what I was capable of since I had worked for MK a little over 3 years prior. One of their big characteristics about Marvin Keller is that they are family oriented company, and I can’t say enough good things about how good they were to me while my husband was ill and with his subsequent passing. They let me alter my work schedule so I could arrange for his care. He had ALS. When they say they are a family oriented company, they are. They care about their employees.

I think that this is a great place to work. I have had experience in several different places. Some companies care about their employees, and to some companies you’re just a number. Marvin Keller really cares about their employees and tries to do right by them.

Are You Prepared For Winter?

Cottingham & Butler Payroll Stuffer

Winter is upon us. If you are traveling though areas that are prone to snowfall, make sure you are properly prepared! With winter, we have more areas to pay attention to so that we are not injured or involved in an accident.

Footwear – Good traction between your shoes and any surface is essential. Your shoes’ or boots’ soles should have ridges or ribs for better traction. Consider purchasing traction aids for your footwear to help ensure stable footing while walking across parking lots and slick surfaces.

It’s obvious that snow, ice, sleet, and rain will make surfaces treacherous, but there are other factors to be aware of as well. A sudden gust of wind could force you off-balance. Black ice, a well-known road hazard, could also form on your steps or deck plates and be dangerous.

Always use three points of contact when exiting/entering the tractor, the trailer, or climbing onto the catwalk.

On the Road – Reduce your speed. The slower you drive, the better your control. Increase your following distance. Give yourself extra room to stop. In bad weather, your stopping distance increases remarkably. Monitor weather reports so you are aware of changing weather conditions and you know what the weather is like where you are headed. Continually check the condition of your equipment. We all know that, in snowy conditions, it is difficult to steer a truck when applying the brakes, especially when already into a turn. Remember to apply brakes in a controlled manner before entering a turn to prevent skids. Stay alert! Eat light, don’t overheat the cab, and get plenty of rest. If road conditions worsen and you feel like you can no longer drive safely, stop your vehicle in a safe place. Proceed only when you think it is safe.

Remember to dress warm or have extra clothes with you. If you have a cell phone, make sure that the cell phone is fully charged!

Double Check Protect From Freeze (PFF) Loads

During the cold winter months we often get PFF requests for liquid products. This stands for Protect From Freeze, and it’s often specified by a customer to request that we protect the product from freezing. It’s important that drivers do not overlook this in these colder months.

The reason we wanted to bring this to our Drivers’ attention is because most of the time the order will say PFF in the paperwork, but sometimes it doesn’t. Drivers need to be extra wary of any special instructions when picking up loads. If a PFF product freezes that’s an entire claim on possibly a $100,000 product. If you are concerned about the product freezing, double check with your dispatcher.

The perfect example of this was last Friday. We dispatched a PFF load with the proper paperwork, but when the driver picked up the load it didn’t say PFF. It was Friday night, and the load had to sit in the yard the entire weekend in blistering and negative degree weather. The Driver was concerned about the product freezing so he reached out to us and we got it sorted out. We ended up taking it back to Sherwin Williams just to be safe.

Vince Anello, Operations Specialist says that the PFF products are usually paint, or some type of liquid oil. He suggests that when you get a Sherwin Williams load, double check with the dispatcher to see if it is a PFF, especially if it’s going to be cold out.

Drivers should always be safe about checking for PFF loads. This topic should be handled with extra caution, like Hazmat.

Flat-Screen, Full Audio Truck Entertainment System Idea

Dutch people know how to stretch a dollar. I recently gathered some great ideas from my trainer Steve that I wanted to share with you. If you follow these guidelines you will have a quick and useful tv entertainment set up in your truck.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my first week training with Steve Von Behren. Remember how I talked about how he was a rockstar in the making? He’s been a rockstar in more ways than one, I’ll tell you that.

Through training, I’ve spent some time with Steve. One of the cool things is that he can watch TV during his break. I am a big audio and video geek so naturally I am intrigued at this setup. I asked how he got that, and he says it was $5 on eBay. It’s a tube tv, but it has almost a perfect picture.

Follow these steps for a top of the line, flat-screen, full audio Marvin Keller Trucker entertainment system:

  1. Buy a 32-inch Roku tv for $119 from Wal-Mart
  2. Go to your cellphone carrier and upgrade to unlimited data
  3. Buy a Wireless Hotspot, AT&T charges me $10/month for adding a line
  4. Buy a 1000 watt inverter for $39.99 from a Loves truck stop
  5. Buy a $15 bracket to hang the 32-inch tv in your truck

If you want to know how to build this setup, ask Bert Verhoeven for ideas. And remember if you have a good idea like this one, send it to Marvin Keller Weekly.

Full Speed Ahead for Economy, Trucking 2018

Original Article from Transport Topics | Daniel P. Bearth | Transport Topics Senior Features Writer

Trucking firms are revved up for 2018, with predictions of tight capacity and strong demand for freight hauling setting the stage for an anticipated big year ahead for the industry, and indicators pointing to a potentially sustained period of business expansion in the United States and around the globe.

That confidence is boosted by the expectation that Congress’ efforts on tax reform will lead to a friendlier regulatory environment for trucking, with uncertainty regarding health care reform and trade negotiations doing little to tamp down enthusiasm.

Congress and the Trump administration also have indicated they will finally begin consideration of a long-awaited infrastructure funding proposal in January.

“Business people are giddy with excitement as business conditions and confidence are at their highest level since the Great Recession,” said Don Ake, a trucking industry analyst at FTR Transportation Intelligence in Bloomington, Ind. “CEOs all the way down to factory workers are hopeful the economy has broken through seven years of the slow-growth recovery and will get even better in the future.”

Another FTR analyst, Steve Graham, said the outlook is positive for both domestic and foreign markets.

“Global expansion is accelerating as growth continues to synchronize across both developed and emerging economies,” Graham said in a recently published commentary. “The U.S. economy is hitting on most of its cylinders, with healthy consumption and a return of business investment. Autos have probably seen their best days and housing remains weak, but most of the parts of the U.S. economy are working together.”

Graham said that he expects real gross domestic product to continue accelerating from 1.5% growth in 2016 to 2.2% in 2017 and to reach 2.8% in 2018, even before taking into account the impact of tax reform legislation that was being ironed out as 2017 drew to a close.

Tax reform and economic growth could also provide a lift to truck equipment suppliers in 2018, said Steve Latin-Kasper, director of market data and research for the National Truck Equipment Association in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He expects economic growth in 2018 to exceed 2017 levels, providing a boost to the trucking industry.

“Consumers are expected to spend more and businesses are expected to spend more on structures and equipment. That means more freight will likely have to be moved, which will be good for the industry,” Latin-Kasper said in response to questions from Transport Topics.

Tax cuts also will have a positive impact on carrier finances and make it easier to justify spending on equipment, technology and employees, according to Russ Burleson, senior vice president of finance at Southeastern Freight Lines in Lexington, S.C.

“Every decision we make is based on analysis of after-tax cash flows,” he told TT. “So I can say [that] as tax costs incrementally go down, more cash is available to make decisions to reinvest in new equipment, real estate and computers. We’re a capital intensive business.”

Southeastern Freight Lines ranks No. 29on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of largest for-hire carriers in North America.

A&R Logistics ordered 75 new tractors for delivery in early 2018, and plans to grow its fleet by more than 10%. The company also increased driver pay and benefits to help remain competitive in a tight labor market.

“We increased driver wages by over $2 million, enhanced our vacation policy to provide drivers more home time, overhauled and refurbished over 30 tractors with the latest engine and cab specifications and invested in new technology to be a safer company,” CEO Mark Holden said.

A&R Logistics, based in Louisville, Ky., ranks No. 100 on the TT Top 100 for-hire list.

Holden said A&R has added more than 60 pneumatic tank trailers to its fleet and opened new transportation and packaging facilities in the Port of Savannah, Ga., and Port Freeport, Texas, to handle increased demand for export of plastic resin.

On the issue of global trade, NTEA’s Latin-Kasper is cautious about the year ahead. “China is attempting to forge its own version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that could lead to lower U.S. exports to Asia,” he said.

In addition, Latin-Kasper said the outcome of ongoing talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement could affect trucking, since Canada and Mexico are by far the two largest trading partners of the United States. He noted, however, that it’s too early to know how the 23-year-old trade pact might be changed.

“It’s difficult to make a forward-looking statement regarding the negotiations since it is highly complex and unlikely to be completed until the second half of 2018 at the earliest,” he said.

The Trump administration has set returning manufacturing jobs to the United States and reducing trade deficits with countries such as China and Mexico as key trade goals.

Research by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, however, casts doubt on whether U.S. companies can take on more production because of shortages of skilled labor. In a survey, 72% of responding MEMA member companies reported a skilled labor shortage. More than 45% of skilled and professional staff are eligible for retirement in the next five years and 79% of companies reported not pursuing business due to lack of talent on staff.

Despite labor difficulties, Brad Delco, a research analyst at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Ark., said he believes the industrial economy will remain a strong point in the U.S. economy in the year ahead.

“Our view is that the industrial economy will stay strong with higher oil prices and could potentially accelerate if the government gets an infrastructure deal done,” Delco said. “Consumer confidence and wage inflation will keep the retail side of the equation strong as well, in our view.”

The outlook for trucking is buoyed by signs of tightening in the market for transportation services.

“We believe the real supply constraint in the industry is truck drivers,” Delco said. “We saw extremely tight post-hurricane conditions in late summer, and we will gradually see capacity tighten over the course of 2018 as a result of electronic logging devices. Our view is ELDs will remove utilization capacity in the industry, which will put upward pressure on freight rates and driver wages.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule requiring most commercial truck drivers to record their hours of service via ELDs took effect Dec. 18.

Rachal Snider, vice president of customer supply chain at AFN, a freight brokerage and supply chain consulting firm based in Niles, Ill., said shippers can expect to see higher rates in the year ahead.

“A recent report from FTR indicated that truckload demand will grow by 3.6% in 2018, which will outpace the existing capacity, particularly since capacity utilization is already at 99%,” Snider said.

Market conditions are similar, in some respects, to a capacity crunch from 2014 when severe winter storms impacted transportation in much the same way hurricanes Harvey and Irma did in 2017, Snider noted.

“The difference today is that since the Great Recession of 2008, carriers have made strides in paring their fleets to improve their operating ratios and this trend has continued to the present. The result is there is simply less elasticity in the market to absorb greater demand, whether it comes from a strong economy, disaster relief or other factors.”

The ELD mandate could reduce capacity by 5% to 8%, but “only time will tell,” Snider added.

In a letter sent to shippers in September, top executives at J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. warned of a capacity crunch in the year ahead.

“This is one of the highest periods of turbulence and volatility in supply we’ve ever experienced and we don’t think it will abate any time soon,” CEO John Roberts and Chief Commercial Officer Shelly Simpson said. “We advise budgeting for transportation cost increases that may reach 10% or more.”

On the technology front, FourKites Chief Product Officer Priya Rajagopalan said she expects adoption of shipment tracking systems to continue to grow significantly in 2018, driven by increased demand from shippers for visibility and to meet new regulatory compliance requirements for food and pharmaceuticals.

“We’re seeing a broad shift toward narrowing delivery windows in and beyond the retail space, brought on by large formerly brick-and-mortar retailers working to remain competitive with e-commerce players in product selection and availability,” Rajagopalan said. “These changing requirements have major downstream implications across the supply chain, as the companies that supply major retailers need to hit more precise delivery windows or face steeper fines.”

Adam Compain, CEO of ClearMetal, a predictive logistics technology company based in San Francisco, said 2018 will be remembered as the year of artificial intelligence in transportation.

“There’s a growing urgency to innovate and transform commerce today,” Compain said. “This is very much the case for logistics and supply chain teams, where processes have remained inefficient for years and the shipping community as a whole struggles to be data driven. But we’ve reached a tipping point and the status quo is no longer sufficient. Companies are embracing AI to generate value, which often comes in the form of improved visibility, mitigated risk and reduced costs.”

John Elsner, vice president of sales in North America at CalAmp Corp., a telematics software company based in Irvine, Calif., predicts further consolidation of telematics service providers, with larger companies moving away from traditional suppliers and creating their own applications and solutions for customers. He also foresees an increase in the importance of technology to fleets.

“ELDs will help companies become safer and more profitable,” Elsner said. “Also, the vast majority of fleets will implement camera-based driver behavior solutions. These cameras, placed in the front, cab and rear of the truck will monitor drivers’ actions and behaviors that waste time or can become dangerous to the driver or other motorists.”

Fred Andersky, director of government and industry affairs at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, speaking at a Fleet Council meeting in December, sees continued development of automation, although he views self-driving vehicles as still far off.

“If it seems like things are moving quickly in terms of technology and the commercial vehicle ecosystem, make no mistake: they are, but so are hype and expectations,” Andersky said. “Everyone who has a stake in commercial vehicle and highway safety should be working to stay ahead of the curve, helping to create and shape the conversation, and not just react to it.”

Bob Dieli, an economist at MacKay and Co., an industry research firm in Lombard, Ill., said trucking needs to prepare for a future that may look very different.

“Our industry, all businesses, should be planning for structural change and if they are not, they are wasting their time,” he said. “Disruptions to all aspects of trucking activity are quite likely over the next five years.”

Dieli’s advice: “Plan and keep looking forward, not much to see in the rearview mirror.”

Man, It’s Really Icy Out These Days

Man, it’s really icy out these days! I wanted to make sure that all my fellow Drivers are staying safe in these harsh weather conditions. Here are a few of my best tips.

A tip to see if the snow is okay to drive on is to listen the sound of your wheels. Open your window for a bit. If it sounds like your wheels are driving on water, the road will be slick. If you don’t hear that watery sound you’re on “dry” snow which is reasonably good to drive on.

In my experience sometimes semi’s will pass you in the left lane. To address this issue, here’s a little math. An average car weighs around 4,000 pounds, divide that by 4 wheels gives a wheel pressure of 1000 pounds. A loaded semi weighs on average 70,000 pounds, where the driver aims to have a maximum of 34,000 pounds on the drive wheels. Eight wheels on the drive means about 4,000 pounds of pressure per wheel, this gives semi’s a little advantage.

Never air up your tires when it is below zero. Compressed air when flowing into your tires soaks up heat from the air. The below zero temperature makes the valve stems freeze and break off.

If you really need to drive in harsh winter conditions, remember to stay in the right lane. Keep your safe distance which is three times your length and let others pass you. Most of the time you will see those who pass you a few miles further in a ditch.

If you’re already on your way to work and it starts snowing, keep driving in the right lane with your hazard flashers on. Open your driver windows and listen for the sound of water on wheels. Slow down to a maximum of 35 miles per hour, and avoid lane changes since ice ridges between the lanes can make it easy to slide out.

If it’s snowing early in the morning, wait until daylight. It is better to be late to work, unhurt, than spending the early morning in a hospital, or worse. When it is snowing really hard, stay at home. No job is worth losing your life over.

Stay Safe! Regards,

Gijsbertus Verhoeven

The Flying Dutchman on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! Here’s a story from I was back in Eastern Europe.

It was 3 days before Christmas, I had a few days off, when my phone rang. “Hey this is Frans.” Frans was my boss at that time. “Can you do a quick trip to Poland?”

“A quick trip to Poland does not exist Frans, especially a few days before Christmas,” I replied.

Poland was a communist country at that time and the main border crossing, Frankfurt an der Oder was extremely busy. Trucks would be backed up for miles, and I mean miles and miles.

“Bert, I need you to do this, it’s a light load and you can come back empty.”

Yeah right, 800 plus miles empty with a toddenkar, (Dutch for a hanging garment trailer.) I knew what I was in for, and it wouldn’t be a quick trip. I did it because my pay grade did not allow me to refuse the trip. E6 is the pay grade with the highest pay but they can send you anywhere. When you are E5 you can refuse trips to war zones and such.

I got to the yard and hooked up the trailer, got my TIR Carnet document to cross borders. Going into Eastern Europe, I was 75 kg for 1 piece. I called Frans and asked, “What’s up with this?” He told me it was a sewing machine that they needed in Zgorzelegz, Poland. A single sewing machine.

And off I went, so irritated that they had me delivering a single sewing machine just before Christmas, that I floored my Scania, driving at 90 mph through Germany, just hoping that the cops would pull me over. Turns out if you need them, you never see them. No cops for the whole 400 miles.

I came up to the border crossing. There was a 20 mile backup. It was more Russian trucks lined up than I ever has seen. Yep 20 miles, you read that right. I took the left lane and kept driving until at the gate of the customs area. The guard asked me if I was crazy and I replied, “No! Empty trucks can pass. I gotta load in Zgorzelegz.” He opened the trailer and saw the little box in the front. He let me through, and that saved me two days of waiting.

Let me explain a bit about Polish roads. Take let’s say route 16 around Sullivan. In Polish standards, this would be a three lane highway. One lane would be in my direction, one lane in the opposite direction, and whoever has the biggest truck/Christmas balls goes in between, hoping with nerves of steel that you don’t crash into other traffic. Combine this with a foot of packed snow and ice and you have yourself a Polish highway. No snowplow, no deicing. At best, you have maybe a group of inmates cleaning and spreading ashes out of the coal power plant onto the snow if you’re lucky. You can only imagine what a combination, empty trailer, going the speed limit, hoping not to encounter horse and carriage. But after driving 10 hours straight on snow and ice, I made it.

While offloaded the sewing machine, I called Frans. “Hey I’m Empty!” And you already guessed it, yup he had me pick up a full load of “todden,” which means “garments” in Dutch. Oh man was I irritated, I’m staying nice here. Got loaded and 1 day before Christmas, I started heading back.

Winter deep inside Poland is like the arctic, 30 below is normal. Combine that with no additives in the diesel and you have a recipe for trouble. I made it back to the border crossing, and even with nobody going out of Poland, it still took me hours to cross and get back to Germany.

From the border to the nearest town is about 40 miles of no-man’s-land. I broke down in the middle because my fuel heater broke and I was frozen/gelled up. I was mad, real mad, and I called Frans and told him to get me going asap. Luckily the truck could idle and I idled until a little village where I and asked if somebody could help me. The whole village got out to see the European truck with a mad Dutch driver. That’s something the whole village wanted to see.

An older, real dirty, Polish man told me in very bad German he would help me and I idled behind him until we reached his shop. His shop looked really bad. I looked over at the outhouse next to it. In comparison to his shop the outhouse seemed like the Hilton. “Don’t worry. I’ll get you going in a bit,” he told me.

The man took a flamethrower, probably from World War II, fired it up and pointed it directly at my driver side tank until it was blackened. I shouted, “Don’t burn my truck down!” The man told me not to worry replying, “Alles wird gut sein, mein freund” which translate to “Everything will be okay my friend.”

White smoke came out of the tank. The diesel was vaporizing. After he was satisfied with the heat, he opened a 20-gallon container and dumped that in my tank. He told me it was rocket fuel, and that it would  never gel. “You go now and have a frohliche weihnachten,” which means Merry Christmas. I asked him how much I owed him and he told me, “Nothing, Merry Christmas, friend!” He would not take my money.

I got home Christmas night, so tired that I couldn’t even get out of the truck. I fell asleep as soon as the brakes were on. My wife woke me up behind the wheel.

After New Years, I asked Frans if I could do a run to Poland. I got the load, and on my way to Poland I stopped at the same village searching for this old man. He was never to be found. Believe me, I tried for half a day, asking everybody, but no one knew him. They recognized the me and my truck, but they did not know the old man.

Father Christmas maybe, I don’t know, but I am forever in his debt.

Merry Christmas to all of you,

Bert Verhoeven,

The Flying Dutchman

DOT to Add Four Opioids for Transportation Worker Drug Testing

Article from Transport Topics

The U.S. Department of Transportation plans on Jan. 1 to begin testing truck drivers and other “safety-sensitive” transportation employees for the semi-synthetic opioids hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone, the agency announced Nov. 9.

“Inclusion of these four semi-synthetic opioids is intended to help address the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse,” the announcement said. “Also, adding these four drugs, which are already tested for in many transportation employers’ non-DOT testing programs because of their widespread use and potentially impairing effect, will allow the DOT to detect a broader range of drugs being used illegally. Transportation industries are not immune to this trend and the safety issues it raises.”

The DOT said it is adding the drug panel to urine testing not only for consistency with the Department of Health and Human Services mandatory guidelines but “as a response to a national problem that can affect transportation safety.”

The agency also said it also is adding methylenedioxyamphetamine as an initial test analyte, but removing the drug as a confirmatory test analyte.

“This final rule clarifies certain existing drug-testing program provisions and definitions, makes technical amendments and removes the requirement for employers and consortium/third-party administrators to submit blind specimens,” the DOT announcement said.

About 6.3 million DOT-regulated drug tests are administered annually.

Since 1988, federal regulations have required cocaine and marijuana to be screened by certain employees working at federal agencies. At the time, HHS, which determines drugs that can be tested by federal agencies, said it based the requirement on the incidence and prevalence of the abuse of the two substances in the general population and on the experiences of the departments of Defense and Transportation in screening their workforces.

In 1988, HHS also authorized federal agencies to test their employees for the use of phencyclidine, amphetamines and opiates.

In May 2015, however, HHS concluded that the additional semi-synthetic opioids, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone should be added in the federal program.

DOT first proposed adding the drug tests for the four drugs in January.

There were 52 comments addressing the addition of the specified semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT testing panel. Of those comments, 41 supported the proposed rule, DOT said.

Supporters of the rule generally recognized the need for the department to act consistently with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines and agreed that addressing opioid abuse issues in the context of transportation safety is important.

However, some opposing comments expressed concerns that adding the four substances would increase circumstances in which drivers innocently using opioids, via a prescription for pain medication, could be unfairly treated as drug abusers, with consequent positive tests harming their careers, DOT said.

The commenters said that, for example, a medical review officer might note that an employee had a legally valid prescription for an opioid, which provided a legitimate explanation for a laboratory positive result, but then decide that the employer should be told that the employee’s use of that opioid poses a significant safety risk, endangering the employee’s continued employment.

Given the apparent frequency with which opioids are prescribed, commenters also feared that the occurrence of issues of this kind could increase.

A medical review officer is a licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results generated by an employer’s drug testing program and evaluating medical explanations for certain drug test results.

“Since we already have opiates in the DOT-regulated drug testing panels, adding semi-synthetic opioids to the panel is not a radical change for these highly trained medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy,” the DOT said.

A few comments suggested adding other substances, such as methadone or synthetic cannabinoids, to the drug testing panel. However, DOT said it does not have the authority to add substances such as methadone or synthetic cannabinoids to its panel without the scientific and technical expertise of the HHS, as expressed in the HHS mandatory guidelines.

Amtrak Cascades 501: What We Can Learn

Brian Fielkow is well regarded in our industry with building and maintaining a Culture of Safety. This article he wrote is in regard to the recent Amtrak derailment incident, and what we can learn from it.

Dear Friends:

After following this week’s Amtrak derailment, I wanted to share a few observations with you. While each accident has its own characteristics, at the heart of nearly every accident is the same set of factors.

The Amtrak Cascades 501 was making its first trip on a new service route between Seattle and Portland when most of its train cars derailed killing three people and injuring over one hundred people.The accident occurred on a stretch of brand new track.

Immediately following the incident, President Trump tweeted: “The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly….”

Since the President’s tweet we have learned that the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30-mph zone. We further learned that Positive Train Control technology was not deployed at the time of the derailment. PTC, which automatically slows the speed of a train, was installed but not yet operational.

While the facts of the derailment are still unfolding, the following principles apply universally to nearly every accident or near miss.

Human behavior is at the heart of nearly every accident. Here are just a few examples of behaviors that lead to accidents.

1.    Taking short cuts – Employees are properly trained.  They know the correct processes to follow. Yet, they elect to circumvent the process and take a short cut. The short cut may work for several years, providing a false sense of invulnerability.

2.    Ready-fire-aim – Employees jump into the task without proper preplanning or understanding the scope of work and associated risks.

3.    Distractions – They come in all forms, from cell phone use to preoccupation with personal issues. If unmanaged, distractions will make it difficult to operate safely. 

An organization can cause and accident as readily as an individual. After an accident, we tend to focus on the individual(s) involved, and that is appropriate. However, if our inquiry stops there, we are making a big mistake.  A company can cause or contribute to an accident. We have to take a hard look in the mirror to identify system breakdowns and organizational dysfunction that leads to accidents. Examples include:

·       Leaders and managers accept bad behavior and tolerate excuses.This paves the way for the company to repeatedly make the same mistake.

·       Management defends questionable actions or attitudes with the explanation “We’ve always done it this way.” Safety is leader driven. If leadership is complacent about safety, the rest of the company will follow suit.  Safety is under a constant state of repair. 

·       Management makes demands that are not reasonable. Our companies must be safe and productive. It’s not an “either/or” proposition. Unmanaged production pressure can lead employees to cut corners.

·       Processes and procedures do not exist or are not well understood. What good  are processes if they are not  understandable? Handing your team an unwieldy 600-page handbook written at a post graduate level is a waste of time. People can not follow a process if they do not understand it. It’s a company’s responsibility to produce processes which are both comprehensive and understandable by the intended  audience.

Investigations must not begin with a predetermined conclusion. When we are confronted with an accident, it is easy jump to conclusions.Then, we spend our time trying to structure the facts in a way that supports the conclusion. The President’s tweet is a good example.  He concluded that the cause was a failure to invest in infrastructure. We know improper speed was the likely cause.  We also know the train was running  on new track, so crumbling infrastructure  was not a likely cause. 

A root cause analysis (or RCA) is the best way to determine how to determine what occurred and to prevent future accidents. The RCA must start with a blank slate and then explore all potential causes, ruling them out one at a time. That’s exactly what the NTSB is already doing with Amtrak Cascades 501.

Performing an RCA, regardless of severity of the incident, produces two benefits. First, it will enable you to determine the cause so that you can prevent future accidents. Second, it will create an intellectual rigor among you and your peers so that you can all benefit from learning what happened and how to prevent it from occurring again.

Using the derailment as an example, here is how we can apply the above principles if we were investigating this accident.    

1.    Probe for individual failures: We know the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone.  What are all the possible causes? Consider distractions, fatigue, and disregard for process as possibilities. Were all pre-trip protocols followed? Did mechanical failure contribute to the failure to decelerate?

2.     Probe for organizational failures. Cascade 501 was traveling a brand-new route. Was there proper preparation for the new route?  Was the track tested? Were employees trained regarding various speed zones on the route? Should Amtrak have launched the route before PTC was available? The accident investigation is focusing on this exact issue: What caused Amtrak to launch before the safety technology was in place?

Amtrak’s tragic derailment provides a lesson for all safety sensitive businesses.  Nearly every accident involves human behavior. The root of the accident may be in individual behavior, organizational behavior or both. When an accident or close call occurs, never jump to conclusions.  Allow for a full investigation to occur. Never stop asking questions until you get to the clear cause.

Best wishes for a very Happy Holiday season.


New ELD With Blue Tree, PeopleNet A Thing of the Past

We are excited to announce that we will soon be implementing a new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Blue Tree. As of December 18th, the e-log mandate requires all commercial trucks across the nation to have e-logs, and we think that Blue Tree will be a step up from PeopleNet by making our electronic log technology easier and more customizable.

Claire Brickey has been overseeing the whole process. She has created all Driver profiles with Blue Tree, and will be assigning every unit to the truck. She is in the process of learning the entire system, and will be training Greg Allsop who will be training Drivers in the future.

Claire says, “So far making the switch has been very easy. Blue Tree has been very accommodating with support and quick to answer our questions.”

Blue Tree has all the capabilities of PeopleNet and more. Blue Tree gives us more customization over the software and makes the electronic logging process much easier for our Drivers than PeopleNet. It looks much more modern with a cleanly designed interface, and we know our Drivers will like using it.

In terms of Driver Performance metrics, Blue Tree is a huge upgrade. PeopleNet did not have this feature, so we had to use another software called Access. We would take information about Driver Performance from TMW, and manually pull them into Access by hand. Blue Tree has a built in feature to store Driver Performance metrics, and run automatic reports which will save us a lot of time. This is just one of many anticipated features.

We are still in the process of pairing it with TMW, which will allow Blue Tree to send Drivers dispatch information. Once we finish integrating with TMW we will be ready to launch!

Don’t Burn Your Mattress for Warmth, As I Had to Do Years Ago

This is Bert Verhoeven. I wanted to suggest that all drivers purchase these few key items to ensure that you stay warm in emergency situations when your engine goes out. I had to learn the hard way years ago, when I was forced to light my mattress on fire for warmth.

A lot of times when trucks break down it is one of two things: electrical- meaning an old battery got shot by the cold and is not charging, or mechanical- where the engine fails because you can’t move and have no heat. While I was working as a driver out in Eastern Europe, I often had to learn quick solutions to these engine failures the hard way. I wanted to add some suggestions to share with all of you.

If the problem is electrical, you can jump your car with a portable car jumper at Walmart. This will cost you $60. 

This item when fully charged will start your car again. To use it, keep it connected to the battery, strap down with a shawl on the bad battery, and drive to the nearest gas station where you can wait in a warm area.

Another thing to have handy is burner camping stove ($15) and a propane tank ($3). If your engine breaks down, light the burner and put it on low. Find yourself some stones, or lay 2 bricks in your car and stack these on top of the burner. The stones hold and radiate heat a lot longer. It will be tempting to turn the heat on high, but the low heat will give you 3 hours of warmth after the burner is out. When the burner goes out, pack the stones in a blanket together with yourself and enjoy the warmth.


Gijsbertus Verhoeven

The Flying Dutchman

Vince Anello, Modern Day American Dream

This is Vince Anello. I came aboard with Marvin Keller towards the beginning of this year in February. It’s been pretty good for me so far. I work with various customers in southern areas. I’ll reach out to them to see if they have any loads ready for us, and save brokers for last minute stuff. My job is a lot of the planning aspect.

My life is at this point is trying to manage being a father and dealing with a career. We had our second child right when I started here, that was quite a change for me. It was hard at first being up in the wee hours of the night, and then getting up early and trying to balance work and home. I usually pick up the kids from daycare because their mother travels a lot and has a very rigorous and demanding schedule. Going home is like a second career, making dinner and getting the kids to bed.

My first kid is going to be 3 in January. He’s about as ornery as they come. A few months ago he was jumping on the couch when he wasn’t supposed to and he broke his tooth out. He likes playing with toy guns and trucks. It is fun watching him grow up. My second child is turning 1 at the start of this next year too.

The team here at Marvin Keller has been a great help to me when I have appointments for the kids, or when the kids are sick, or when I have to deal with personal issues. They really understand my position and they’ve been very supportive about it, and I really appreciate that. Rachel has been great training me in the planning aspect of the job. I call her the Michael Jordan around here, she can do everything well. Tiffany has been very helpful training me in customer and sales, and Rick has been awesome too. He’s wise and has a lot of experience. I look up to him and how he manages things.

It is kind of a routine now. I drive back and forth from Mattoon, it’s around 20 minutes. It’s not super far, but it becomes more of problem when appointments for the kids come around because I’m not right there in the town. Whenever the kids are sick or something, you know you’re not always going to be the first option to get them back or pick them up.

I’m just an average guy working and dealing with the family at home. It’s almost like the modern day american dream. Just out of school, staring a family, paying off student debt, starting a career, learning skills that will help me throughout my whole life.

When drivers say they need to be home I take that to heart because I have a family at home. I’m lucky I get to be home with my kids every night. I know those drivers sacrifice not being with them, so I understand that.

Kenny Decker, Effingham Leader

Kenny Decker recently started as our newest Effingham Leader, a key role in servicing our customers and supporting our operations team and OTR Drivers in Central Illinois. Team Leaders coordinate Driver work schedules, manage the trailer pool, customer load appointments, and are responsible for overall site maintenance including property management. They are also responsible for making timely pickups and deliveries with their driving responsibilities.

This is Kenny Decker here. I really enjoy my responsibilities as Effingham Leader, I’m really glad to have made the change. It’s nearing my third week now, and so far everything’s been going well. It also is a huge plus that I’ve had great transactions with everyone at Sherwin Williams. Previously, I was on the 4 day schedule with 3 days at home, but I really enjoy the home time every night in this position. Showering at home and sleeping in your own bed every night makes a huge difference.

One of the main issues I have faced since starting was adjusting to the rigorous paperwork process. During my first week, I had 17 loads with Sherwin Williams. That was quite a hustle, but through it I’ve been able to pick up the system and find adjustments to my process. I try to scan it in as soon as possible instead of letting five or six bills stack up for days. It gets tricky working with shippers when they don’t give you the paperwork back immediately after you drop the trailer at the door. Often, they will make you wait until the trailer is completely unloaded. It gets tricky to keep track of the paperwork because you have to go to 3 different places and handle multiple loads. With 17 loads, that’s 17 bill of ladings to scan in and send. I guess the paperwork has been the biggest challenge, but so far I’ve been able to make adjustments and keep up. It seems I get better at it the more I do it.

My hope is that I can continue to do this job well. The only other thing I was hoping for was that they replace the truck I am driving with. The truck is a 1998, it’s definitely an older truck. But I understand they want to get the best usage of the truck. The 1998 is really not going to be good for anything but to do this kind of local job.

Overall, I just really appreciate the opportunity. Thank you to everyone for giving me a chance to prove myself and do well up here. Hopefully I’ll be here to stay for many years.

Cottingham & Butler – Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can be hazardous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice. Additional preparations can help make a trip safer, or help motorists deal with an emergency. This sheet provides safety information to help prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms.

The three P’s of safe winter driving: Prepare for the trip, Protect yourself, and Prevent crashes on the road.


Maintain Your Vehicle: Check battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.

Have On Hand: flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares), blankets, non-perishable food and water, medication, and cell phone. Stopped or Stalled? Stay in your truck, don’t overexert yourself, shine lights, and if you run your truck run it just enough to stay warm.

Plan Your route: Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the maps/directions, and let others know your arrival time.

Protect Yourself

Buckle up!

Prevent Crashes

Slow down and increase distances between cars. Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking in the road. Avoid fatigue – Get plenty of rest before the trip, stop at least every three hours.

Cottingham & Butler Winter Driving Tips

Tammy Clough, on Nick Maninfior and Frank Wallace

This is Tammy Clough here. We wanted to do a quick update on our Operations Team. It has been quite hectic over here, but we believe it is important for us to keep our Drivers in the loop as valued members of our team.

As you all know we recently hired Nick Maninfior as our newest Driver Manager. Due to the recent change in personnel, I have been taking care of all the Drivers and training Nick. I took vacation recently, then I was out on sick leave, and Nick had to handle it all himself. Despite the learning curve we all feel confident in Nick who did a great job. And we wanted to send a special thanks to everyone in the office for helping out as much as they did.

A few days ago we separated the Drivers between me and Nick. Now he has his own set of Drivers and I have mine again. I think one thing that had been a struggle for us these past few weeks was keeping up on Driver reviews, DOT physicals, Hazmat Training, but today we made a lot of forward ground. We got all the DOT physicals planned, including appointments for every Driver and made plans to get most of our Drivers through here for corrective action and randoms. Something that I want to get accomplished today is finishing up with these appointments.

Speaking of Nick, we all believe that he has come a long way. He has done very well to adapt to these changes. For someone who doesn’t have a background in the trucking industry honestly, he’s been doing excellent. His background in customer service has been valuable in handling a wide range of people and responsibility. Although he has a lot of responsibility, we’re definitely not going to throw him to the wolves. We all have a team mentality and we’ve been helping him as much as possible.

One Driver who has stuck out recently for going above and beyond to help the team is Frank Wallace. It’s interesting because he is unfortunately on medical leave because of his recent health issues. Last Friday, Frank who lives in Lichfield, Kentucky, drove his own personal vehicle 118 miles up north to Lexington to go rescue one of our Driver who had broken down. He picked him up from the hotel and brought him back to Lichfield. From there, Frank let the Driver use his truck and empty trailer that was parked at his home to help us finish the load. Frank is a go-getter that takes initiative, and we’re more than proud to have him on our team.

All in all, there’s never a dull day here. That just goes to show how much we honor our commitment toward our Drivers.

Melissa Shain: Never A Dull Moment

As one of our first Inside Account Representatives, Melissa Shain is one of our newest additions to the team. In light of Thanksgiving week, we wanted to write an update to check in and see how these past few weeks have been for her.

Interviewer: Thanks for giving us a few minutes out of your day. We wanted to first ask, has anything about the position really stuck out in the past few weeks?

Melissa: Thank you for doing this interview! Well as you know we just recently had Thanksgiving week. It was my first time, and that was a whole new ball game.

Interviewer: Busy?

Melissa: Yes (laugh), very busy! One of the hardest parts is that I have been trying to learn planning on the job, but Rick has been a great teacher so far. We’ve been trying to be proactive to make sure that we were taking care of the drivers and getting them home to be with their families. There are so many requests during the Holidays, so that was different from a normal week for sure. And even the following week after Thanksgiving, we were still kind of trying to get our bearings again and get on track to maximize our team effort.

Interviewer: It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now. Has this week been busy as well?

Melissa: Well, this week we have two of the four Customer Service Reps out sick. Not to mention, we recently lost one of our Service Reps so I took all of their accounts. So it has just been very busy, not really a lot of time for anything extra. We’re kind of in survival mode.

Interviewer: Oh man, that sounds rough. But from what I hear, a lot of Drivers have been very appreciative of the effort to get them home for the Holidays. Overall, how has the team been able to adjust to the changes?

Melissa: I think we’ve been doing fine! You really get to learn how tight of a team you are when you are in these survival mode situations. It’s been pretty smooth. We’re a very capable team, so we’ve been able to cover for those who have been sick pretty well.

Interviewer: How have you been personally?

Melissa: I’ve been healthy at home, so that’s positive. One area where I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible is planning. I have a background in Customer Service so that has been pretty natural for me, but planning is a bit more out of my element. I’m new to the trucking industry so routing and planning has been much more difficult to get my head around. But I have great teachers here. Every time I do training sessions with Rick, I feel like I’m making progress and I learn more. Even in the short few weeks it’s been soaking in, so that’s positive!

Interviewer: Thank you again for your time. You’ve been pretty thorough with your answers, but is there anything you would want to add?

Melissa: There’s really never a dull moment around here. I learn many new things every day. I love that I’m always on my toes!

It’s Tire Chain Season

Hey, everyone, this is Greg Sullivan here. I wanted to reintroduce everyone to the tire chain because a lot of you haven’t had to use it before. We made this video to show you how to use the tire chain properly to get out of ice or snow.

If you have any questions or need change contact the shop at 217-728-9800 x 255

Amount of Freight Hauled by Trucking Industry Highest Since 2013

By Clarissa Hawes from

The amount of freight hauled by the trucking industry in October rose 9.9 percent year-over-year, the largest increase since December 2013.

According to the American Trucking Associations, which tracks freight volume in its For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, freight numbers have been showing steady improvement compared with last year’s figures.

Through the first 10 month of the year the index is up 3.1 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

During the last four months leading up to the holiday shopping season, freight volume is up 6.7 percent suggesting that retailers are expecting strong consumer spending this year, said Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, 69 percent of Americans or 164 million people plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, which includes “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

And consumer spending will continue through the fourth quarter, said Scott Anderson, chief economist for Bank of the West. “The fact that retail sales continued to climb in October after huge increases in spending in September bode well for this holiday shopping season.”

Though tonnage dipped 1.9 percent from August to September, month-over-month freight volume increased 3.3 percent in October.

“Continued improvement in truck tonnage reflects a much stronger freight network,” Costello said. “This strength is the result of several factors, including consumption, factory output, construction and improved inventory levels throughout the supply chain.”

ATA calculates its tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. In October, the index equaled 147.6, up from 142.9 in September.

Trucking hauls nearly 71 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation. The industry accounts for about $676.2 billion in freight business, or 79.8 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes, according to the ATA.

Read full article on

Walmart Automated Unloading Allowance

Walmart in Ochelata, Oklahoma posted that lumper fees will now be automated. Drivers delivering into Walmart’s Grocery Network will no longer need to present $50 fees via cash, check or UAT. It will be included automatically in the invoice. We hope that this will save Drivers time by not having to wait and pay upon unload.

Here is the posting from Walmart:


We have great news! We are excited to announce that a standardized automation of Grocery Unloading Allowances will be going into effect. This standardization will remove the need for drivers delivering into Walmart’s Grocery Network to present $50 fees (either in cash or check) at the time of unload. These fees will be automated with Collect Carriers receiving billing directly from Global Business Services. Prepaid loads will be billed back to the Supplier.

Based on stated timelines, DC’s will not longer accept $50 fees via cash or check. Please adjust any driver reimbursement plans accordingly as necessary.

We will being invoicing for fees at our corporate office. Invoices will be sent to Carriers with backup showing loads being billed for within that billing cycle. Do not sent payment for any of the loads until an invoice from Walmart is received. It is critical for the bill’s invoice number to be referenced on payment remit to ensure proper payment application is completed timely. Failure to provide proper remit information could result in incorrect application of the payment, funds being returned due to not knowing how to apply, or deductions against your account due to the invoice not getting cleared timely by your payment.

Carrier/Supplier questions can be directed to the email address:

We hope that this automated lumper fee process will be across every Walmart, but for now it is only at a few locations.

Submitted by Steve Von Behren

Tips from “Ye old Dutch cleaner” Bert Verhoeven

Do you have a weathered dull dash? Here’s a quick tip. Next time you use tire shine on your wheels, use it on your dash. Make sure to rub it in good. You’ll find that it gives your dashboard a showroom level shine. The best part? You only need to do this once a year.

Do you need a decal removed without scratching your truck paint? When at home, take a hair dryer and put it on low heat. Hold it about 6 inches away from the decal for about 5 to 10 seconds. While pulling the decal, keep the heat on the decal while slowly pulling it off. After getting it off there might be some glue residue left on the paint. To get this off take an orange or lemon peel and grind it up together with old coffee grinding. This is a DIY, homemade glue remover solution. Rub it on the glue residue for quick removal.

If you are on the road and do not have access to a hair dryer, buy yourself a hand warming pack and hold it against the decal for 2 minutes and peel off decal. The key ingredient is heat.

I hope this helps our fleet have shiny dashes and easily remove unwanted decals. Remember, if you have a tip, please let all of your team members know by sending it to Marvin Keller Weekly.

“Ye old Dutch cleaner,” Bert Verhoeven

Gail Wilson, Maintaining the Balance

As we make an effort to cater to our Driver’s Holiday schedule requests, the Holidays are some of the busiest times for the Operations and Planning team here at Marvin Keller. But there are a few key Drivers whose flexibility and work ethic help us make our commitments a reality. We wanted to highlight one of these Drivers today.

Our Owner Operators have ability to make their own home time, and this means that during the Holiday Season they can end up requesting a lot of time off the road. Gail Wilson is one Owner Operator that Aleta Crouch, Owner Operator Program Manager, trusts to go above and beyond during the Holidays.

“Gail is a go-getter, that I can always depend on. She gets things done, she’s always on time, she’s excellent at communicating, overall a very great asset to us. Drivers with a work ethic like Gail is one reason why we can afford to give Owner Operators the freedom to choose their home time. On top of that she’s also referred a lot of people that we’ve hired, which is a huge plus.”

This past week a lot of Drivers wanted shorter hours but Gail wanted to stay out as long as possible. She usually stays out for about a month, sometimes two months at a time. She’s going home the middle of December and will be working through Christmas.

Normally Gail will pick loads off our Load Board, but sometimes Aleta will look ahead to scope out loads that she knows Gail will like.

“With Gail, sometimes I’ll scope out loads beforehand. I know what she likes, and we like to keep her happy because we work well together.”

We are glad for Drivers like Gail who want to stay out on the road for long periods of time. This produces a healthy and profitable balance for all of us. It’s one reason why our Drivers can be home when it counts the most. Marvin Keller always goes above and beyond to cater to our Driver’s requests, so we always recognize Drivers like Gail Wilson who go above and beyond for all of us.

Home For The Holidays

As the holiday season rolls around, we take a deep breath.

The holidays for other companies are a time to slow down, kick back and enjoy the festivities. But for the Operations and Planning Team here at Marvin Keller the Holidays means it’s time to hustle. This is because we are committed to bringing drivers home to their families for the holidays.

We wanted to catch a glimpse of the hustle in preparation for this year’s Thanksgiving Day, so we went behind the scenes and asked Rick Ellis, Vice President of Operations to name a few instances where we went above and beyond to work with our Driver’s requests. Here’s his list off the top of his head:

Ogden – low hours – dropped load to KY at London, Ohio, brought MT home

Klein – low hours – brought MT home from Evansville, Indiana

Coleman – light on Chicago loads – bobtailed from Decatur to Kankakee

Thrall – low on hours – brought down from Spring Valley and load in Decatur to get home on time

Jordan – low hours – brought up from Henderson, KY to load in Flora

Merrill, Emel, Edwards, Rich, Mossman, Cain, Maldonado,  – had them do city work on Wednesday to get home timely.

McBride – did an Olney and then set to Sikeston, MO to load and control time so he can be home Wednesday

Brown Team – had an incident with a deer (truck won), but caused them to be delayed to Buford, GA – we save the TN load so they could get home even though it would be late for delivery.

Barlow – Changed loads up so she could get back in time to start vacation – let her drive company car home to help

Darby – took a load to MI with some out of route miles so he could get home.

The list goes on and on.

Rick says,

“We believe in family. We believe in doing everything in our control to honor our commitments, and that means placing a heavy emphasis on getting Drivers home to their families for the holidays. We will exhaust every possible avenue to do this. We want to take care of our Drivers. Everyone is involved — drivers doing their best to communicate their needs, the office for keeping all the moving parts oiled and in sync, planning for taking loads that match, Customer Team matching times, and much more.”

Rick’s final comments were directed at the Planning and Operations team.

“No other companies I know would go to the lengths we go to help our drivers. Being elite and going above and beyond is why I am proud to say I work at Marvin Keller Trucking and what makes Marvin Keller Trucking great is us.”

Nick Maninfior, I’m Here to Take Care of People

We’re excited to introduce our newest Driver Manager, Nick Maninfior.

Before Marvin Keller I was in business sales with Verizon Wireless for 10 years. While I worked for Verizon, Joe was a customer of mine and Marvin Keller Trucking was one of my accounts. At the time, Joe was considering buying iPads and tablets for all the Drivers. We worked together to come to an agreement.

Although I was working for Verizon, I got to know Joe a little bit through this interaction. I came into the office a few times and got a good sense of the environment here at Marvin Keller. The culture had a good impression on me.

The reason I came aboard here is because the indirect Verizon store I worked at got bought out by another Verizon retailer. After this happened, they rehired everyone but they offered me my old position at a much lower pay rate. It was an entry level pay. I started looking around because I have two kids and a wife that I need to support, and taking a huge pay cut like that would not do.

In the past I worked at various locations with a variety of customer bases. It ranges from college kids, to middle class, to elderly customers as well. Being able to talk to a all different kinds of people and being able to relate to them has been helpful in my career so far. Patience is key. If you sell a 75-year old lady, you better believe she’s going to have a lot questions about it. I have always been the person who resolves issues immediately for the customer, and I think that’s going to help me succeed here. I’m here to take care of people.

I was born and raised in Mattoon. I have a little girl who will be two years old in December and a five month old son. I don’t have a lot of free time now that I have two kids, but in my free time I like to go fishing and play church league softball. Almost all of my family is in Mattoon, and all my wife’s family is in Arcola so really we spend a lot of time with our family. Family is a big focus.

A company that values loyalty and a culture that takes care of its employees and their families is very appealing to me. Joe seems like a good guy because he is really trying to take care of people. He seems like a straight shooter; he’s never going to lie. I look forward to helping out by taking care of drivers, helping my co-workers whenever possible, and representing the company in the best way I can. It’s a team environment here and Joe takes care of his team. That’s a team I want to be a part of.

Don Stevens, One Whirlwind After Another

I heard about this opportunity from my business partner Richard Barnett. He knew I had some issues with the company I was previously with. We crunched some numbers and it seemed like the best financial opportunity at the time.

I was an Owner Operator pulling a Reefer, Tanker, and live haul chickens. It was different. It was quite an experience, I have a lot of stories to tell. Don’t ever let anyone tell you chickens aren’t heavy. I’m here to tell you. They’re not as light as people think (haha).

I’ve been in the industry almost 20 years. There’s so many things done here it’s hard to even talk about them all. Some are funny, some are stupid, and some are outright unspeakable.

I hope to make as much money as I can to take care of the bills. I just got custody of my son after eight years. Right now it’s just good to have the steady income through Marvin Keller and make sure I can take care of my son. I’ve always thought about running my own business and authority. But for now I have too many financial obligations to break that threshold. It’s just been one whirlwind after another.

Overall, I’m excited to grow together here at Marvin Keller. I like the idea of the Load Board and being able to pick and choose where I want to go at that time.

In my free time, I like to go to the gun range. I like to call it range therapy. I do a little camping and fishing back home as well, but I haven’t been able to in the last few years. But now that my son’s joined cub scouts, I guess I’ll be picking it back up again.

Ken Strotheide, The Simple Things in Life

I’m Ken Strotheide, I came aboard as a Company Driver last week, and I got sent out yesterday. I wanted to thank everybody in orientation and those that I’ve talked to so far. Everyone was nice and friendly, going out their way to help you out. I only have good things to say about the company so far.

I heard about Marvin Keller through Dave and Kim Bruchman. My wife knows them well, they go to the same church and they attended our wedding. Yesterday I was in Mattoon having a bit of trouble with PeopleNet, and Kim and Dave Bruchman happened to be in a truck behind me. They stopped and helped me out. It’s a small world.

When Kim and Dave referred me to the company, they told me how good Marvin Keller was and how they enjoyed working here. I was interested so I looked up the company and applied. My wife and I got married last year, and we’re living the Chicago area where we get routed frequently. It seemed like a good fit for us. I appreciate the equipment here too. Everything is nice and clean. It’s a very nice deal here.

My week has been good so far since I’ve gotten more used to PeopleNet. One thing I’ve noticed is that the loads are much better here than the previous company I worked for. At the last company a lot of times I would be sitting out at the dock for hours. If you got in and out in an hour and a half you felt good about it. I had three drops today, I picked up a drop yesterday, and none of them were over half an hour. It is very nice not to bust your butt to get somewhere then sit there for three hours. Then you’re late for the next appointment. The way that you guys dispatch, I noticed that you give us plenty of time. I get to every appointment early, and I get out on the road early. I’m loving it so far.

I like golfing, fishing, hunting, but in a truck you rarely get to do any of that. I like the outdoors. I like throwing a steak on a grill. I’m simple that way. I don’t need to go to the opera or anything like that. The simple things in life are good for me.

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

This is Bert Verhoeven. The last article I wrote was an introduction where I spoke about my experience driving in Eastern Europe 25 years ago. I have been driving here for about three weeks now, and I wanted to write about my experience during my first week driving for Marvin Keller.

The phone rang at mid-day the day prior to my start date. The operator said, “Hi Bert. Can you come in around 5 in the afternoon on Monday? We have you set up to start out with a trainer driver.” I was amped up and ready to go of course.

I got to Marvin Keller Trucking way ahead of time due to my excitement. When I met with my trainer driver, I realized forgot almost all my clothing. And on the road we went. After running for two hours my trainer decided to shut down for the night. I thought, “Uh, hello? We were only moving for 2 hours! Yet, what do I know? I just started. Bert, keep your mouth shut and learn.” Ten hours in the sleeper berth, I have bruises on my back from laying around.

Little did I know that my Driver Trainer was accommodating me. He went out of his way to take care of me and make sure that I was safe driving, and make sure that I was happy and having fun.

I learned so much in that week, thank you Steve. I cannot tell you this enough, what a Driver Trainer. This driver opened up his house on wheels for me, let me drive his truck, and taught me the ropes of the road. I learned from him that you can only take a right turn through a red light after a full stop. I honestly did not know that before. Overall I had fun. I was simply amazed by what I saw on the road.

One of the last days of the trip we spoke about music. I am not a country music style guy, or even a rock guy. Nope, I like my EDM music all day long. Yet I was still impressed that Steve writes his own songs and orchestrates his own music. After having me listen to his “Rosy Song” I can only tell you, my jaw was on the floor. Amazing. We got a rock-star in the making.

All in all, what I wanted to say in this article was this: Never Judge a book by its cover! Thank you Steve.

Your teammate,


Study: Women veterans make excellent truckers

Original article on American Trucker

There are two groups of truck drivers that have fewer accidents, drive more miles and stay in the same job longer: veterans and women. And thanks to federal initiatives to help veterans get jobs in transportation, we should start seeing more women vets piloting trucks on American roads.

Based on data it has been compiling for a decade, Omnitracs says women veterans would make for excellent truck drivers. And those women could find higher pay than the average salary garnered by the average female veterans in the private sector.

“Although women and veterans make up a smaller population in trucking, they are great truckers,” Lauren Domnick, Omnitracs’ director of data and analytics, told American Trucker this week.

According to the Omnitracs study, fewer than 9% of truckers are women. And 19% of all truckers have a military background.

While there are fewer women and veterans driving commercial trucks, those who are tend to be safer than the male truckers who didn’t serve in the military.

With driver retention a growing problem in the trucking industry, Omnitracs’ data shows that women veterans could help solve that problem because both women and veterans tend to stay at the same job longer. The same data shows that women and veterans are more likely to drive more miles and have fewer severe accidents than the average truck driver.

Looking at statistics gathered over the past 12 months (October 2016-September 2017) by Omnitracs, there was not one month that women truckers had a higher turnover rate than men.

There were only two months in the past year that female truck drivers had more severe accidents than men. Looking recent data from July, August and September 2017, women truckers have been behind the wheel for less than 0.1 accidents per 100 drivers; men have more than doubled that with 0.2 accidents per 100 drivers in the same period.

“We saw that women have significantly fewer rollovers and rear-end collisions, which are two very costly accidents for fleets,” Domnick said.

Women have also consistently driven more miles on average than male truckers over the past year. Two months (October 2016 and May 2017) in the past year, women averaged more than 7,500 miles — an average that men never reached.

“I think it’s safe to infer that women are safer drivers in terms of both sever accidents and all accidents,” Domnick said. “That is what the trends indicate.”

These women trucker stats tend to mirror military veteran trucker stats, Domnick of Omnitracs said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to make it easier for veterans to get work in the transportation industry. Recent initiatives have cleared the path for veterans who drove large vehicles in the military to make it easier to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Recruiters and trucking companies, Domnick noted, are always looking for safe, productive drivers. “Women tend to be safer, have longer tenure and be more productive,” she said. “And veterans have the same trends.”

Brittany Bickel: New Company Driver

We’re excited to announce Brittany Bickel as our newest hire.

I went on a weekly trip with Tina Barlow, my Driver Trainer, to see how things play out here. She’s awesome. She gave me a good word and that led me to getting hired. I started at the beginning of this week, and I’m excited to start driving!

I worked at a hotel previous to coming aboard Marvin Keller. It was a front desk job. I got to talk to people from different states. I decided to become a truck driver because I like the idea of traveling and driving. It’s a challenge, but it’s a welcome challenge. My dad was supportive of the career change. I tried it, and I really love it.

When I was in CDL school, I thought I was going to be at the bottom of the class. Maybe it was because of this stigma or idea that the trucking industry was dominated by men. But in school even though I was the only girl, I was second best in the class. That made me pretty confident in myself. I don’t think that this industry should have that male dominated stigma. I think I can do just as well.

At first I was a little scared because these trucks are pretty big. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle it. Tina told me she started driving when she was 22, which was really helpful. Tina is awesome, I’m really glad to have an older figure give me pointers, especially since she’s a capable woman in this industry. She said she was going to push me to improve. I feel really good about having her here to help.

Virgil Maugh: Lease Purchaser

My name is Virgil Maugh I’ve been an over the road driver for over 28 years. I started driving in August of 1989 out of Salem, Illinois. I did about 20 years worth of produce coast to coast California, Florida, and all of the Northeast. I’ve been on dedicated routes delivering to stores and then I went back out on the road again. I was a Driver Trainer for 9 years.

I’ve seen Marvin Keller vehicles on the road, but never really had a chance to talk to the drivers. I started investigating to see what kind of programs they had. I saw on their website that they had a Lease Purchase Program that interested me. I called and got a chance to speak with Joe Keller about it and liked what I had to hear. I’m not the first driver who purchased a truck through this program, but Joe said that I could probably help him out with some things since I’ve been through this industry for such a long time.

My goal through this program is to be able to own my own truck. I’m glad for the way that Joe Keller has the program set up to help us be successful and profitable. If I’m making the money I need, I know that Marvin Keller is profiting as well. It really is a win, win situation.

My expectations for the Lease Purchase program foremost would be honesty. I don’t expect there to be any problems for me because they have been honest about everything so far. They have a pretty good maintenance program to keep everything working properly. I’ve been out here long enough to know about when freight is slow, so I can see how hard the Marvin Keller Planners and Operations Team works to keep us moving. My goal right now is to own a truck, and this program through Marvin Keller will help me get there.

The long term goal is to one day own small company with a few trucks involved. If this year goes smoothly and I can get to that position, I can see myself buying another truck and hiring another driver to put in that truck. Then eventually, since I’m getting a little older, maybe go the route to get my own authority and my own loads. But that’s a little further down the road.

When I first started driving I only planned to do it for 4-5 years. But as you can see I’m still going. I’ve had good times and bad times. But it’s still exciting to see be with a company that sees things a little differently than a lot of the bigger companies out there. The bigger companies really do just see you as a number. But so far everyone here knows my name, greets me when I come in. You don’t get that from the bigger carriers. I’m excited to see how things play out.