Schuster Company – Grain, Ice Cream And… Great Drivers!
Schuster Company’s corporate headquarters.
While Schuster Company still hauls ice cream; they also haul a lot of other kinds of freight.
George Barker, Schuster Company’s 2012 Driver of the Year.
By Steve Pollock
Le Mars, IA… Orville Schuster founded Schuster Grain in Northwest Iowa in 1956. Orville hauled grain with a single truck in the Sioux City, Iowa area. As the company grew, Orville expanded into dry vans and refrigerated freight, changing the name to Schuster Company. Orville also started hauling freight for another local company in Le Mars; Wells Enterprises, owners of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. As Blue Bunny grew to become a household name, Schuster grew right along with them, hauling their ice cream all over the country. Today about 40% of Schuster’s freight still remains Blue Bunny Ice Cream.
After Orville’s son Steve joined the company the two began to grow the fleet to its present day size of over 300 trucks and 500 trailers. Schuster presently employs/leases 350 full and part time company drivers and owner-operators.
Today the Schuster fleet is about 80% reefer and 20% dry van. One fact that the company is extremely proud of is their low driver turnover rate that they have maintained for the past 57 years. Schuster’s turnover has never exceeded 40% in all their year in business. The biggest reason is that drivers enjoy working for Schuster Company. Dispatchers help maintain great driver relations and take pride in knowing each driver by name rather than by truck number. The company has re-hired many drivers who have left for greener pastures only to return somewhat disillusioned with other carriers. Drivers like the company’s open door policy to management. Employees and drivers have access to all members of management, including CEO Steve Schuster.
Schuster Company operates quality equipment, spending extra money on driver amenities such as premium seats. New equipment is scheduled to arrive this year – 75 new 2015 tractors and 300 new 2015 model trailers. By year’s end the oldest tractor in the fleet will be a 2012 model and the oldest reefer trailer will be a 2011. Between their focus on safety and late model equipment, Schuster is able to maintain low CSA scores.
Schuster Company focuses on miles and hometime for its drivers. Solo drivers average 2,000 to 3,000 miles per week, with an average length of haul of 700 miles. Schuster drivers are usually out 10-14 days and back home for 2-3 days. The operational area is roughly on a line from Minnesota to Texas and East, or East of the Missouri River. The company is seeking drivers and owner-operators along corridors on I-80, I-90, I-70, I-35 and I-40. Drivers and contractors are compensated weekly and have direct deposit available for their convenience. All pay is based on practical miles and owner-operators can choose between mileage and percentage based pay. Company drivers can earn up to .40 per mile with a possible bonus of .3 per mile for safety and compliance. Company drivers also enjoy a full benefit package in addition to a 401K with company match. All drivers receive detention and stop pay.
Each year Schuster Company holds an annual safety banquet to recognize their safe and compliant drivers. One outstanding individual is chosen for their superior safety and compliance efforts from a group of finalists. Managers, dispatchers and a panel of 15 drivers choose Schuster’s Driver of the Year. The lucky recipient receives a $1,000 bonus check and gets to choose and spec a brand new tractor to drive. He/she will drive the truck until it is time to trade it in. All of Schuster’s drivers have assigned trucks and the company also has a rider program in place.
Schuster Company plans to use steady, controlled growth to continue serving primary customers, such as 100-year-old Wells Enterprises/Blue Bunny Ice Cream, as they grow. The company will maintain an excellent driver and equipment base to move their customers’ freight.
To learn more about Schuster Company, log onto www.schusterco.com or call Joe at 800-831-4832.