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​Smith Transport – Focused On Retention

By Steve Pollock

October, 2018

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ROARING SPRING, PA…. Treat drivers the way you would want to be treated and address their problems in a timely fashion is a simple formula for retaining Professional Truck Drivers. Add in great pay and late model, well-maintained equipment that is kept clean and you have a place that Professional Truck Drivers want to call home. “Be a hero to your driver today,” states Joe Musselman, Fleet Development Manager at Smith Transport. 

It must be working because Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania based Smith Transport’s turnover rate is just 71%, well below the national average and they are setting the stage for the company to grow their fleet this year by 100 trucks or more.

President Barry Smith is the original Smith Transport driver. Barry has always paid attention to details, both large and small. Barry has a deep understanding of what Professional Truck Drivers deal with on a daily basis and the sacrifices they make for their profession. Barry started with a single truck, hauling milk from local farms. As he added additional trucks, all of which were used, it became necessary for him to repair them. Barry would drive by day and in the evenings and sometimes late into the night, make the repairs so he and his drivers could leave out the next morning. In later years, as Barry left the road to run the company, he would often stop to help a driver who was broke down – more often than not, it wasn’t even a Smith Transport truck! Barry would do what he could to get the driver back on the road, ruining a lot of white shirts in the process.

It is this attitude that emanates from the owner on down to everyone who works at Smith Transport. Fleet Development Manager Joe Musselman said, “Our number one customer is our Professional Drivers and we strive to treat them as such. We are seeing great results using this philosophy. We try to be problem solvers at Smith, we identify problems all the time and then we respond to them and execute a solution, not just listen to a driver’s problem – but address it and find a suitable solution. Each morning our staff meets to identify key performance indicators (KPI) reviewing the day before. We set goals and identify problems, looking for a solution that will benefit our drivers and improve the company’s performance. At Smith Transport, we want everyone puling the rope in the same direction.”

CEO Barry Smith and President Todd Smith hold regular driver council meetings, welcoming drivers’ input about the company and its operations. It has been an effective tool to gain insight from the drivers’ perspective.

“At Smith Transport we strive to appreciate our drivers every day, not just one week out of the year,” said Joe Musselman. During Driver Appreciation Week, Smith Transport sent a gift card to each driver, so they could enjoy a night out with their family. The company also was host to a catered lunch at their Roaring Spring headquarters during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

The driver pay at Smith Transport has never been higher. In July of this year, Smith instituted a new vacation pay policy, giving drivers 1/52 of their pay for their paid vacation, an additional investment of $400,000. Driver Managers and Dispatchers recognize drivers on a daily basis for a job well done, while the company recognizes a Smith Driver monthly as Driver of the Month and a finalist for Driver of the Year. Smith drivers can also be proud of the truck they drive. The company operates Peterbilts, Freightliners and International, all with Smith’s signature black, accentuated with chrome. The trucks are late model, and all are equipped with APUs. The new equipment is now spec’d with refrigerators. All of the trucks in the Smith fleet are kept clean and well-maintained.

Smith Transport has high hiring standards. The company requires 1 year of OTR experience, a clean MVR, a good background and a strong work ethic. They believe that when you hire the right driver, it is much easier to keep them. The company has expectations of their drivers, but at the same time they have expectations of the staff who work with the drivers. You won’t find any sign-on bonuses at Smith, they want drivers to come to work for them for all of the right reasons – which include starting a career and earning a good living to support themselves and their families.

Here are some comments from Smith Transport drivers regarding what they like about working at Smith:

Richard Fertig, Cumberland, Maryland, Smith Transport driver for 13 years. Richard drives a Peterbilt 389 and will be getting a new truck this month.

“I have been with Smith when the good was good and the bad was bad. I am there for the company and they are there for me. I started with Smith when I lived in Florida. When you are with a good company, you stick with them. If you work hard and get the job done, the rewards are there. If I need to get home, they will make sure that I get there. I had a family emergency and they [Smith] sent me home immediately, even covering my load for me. They told me to take all the time that I needed. I am 63 years old and I’m not going anywhere, I’m sticking with Smith Transport. I have met Barry Smith and I am here for him and he is here for me. Everyone at the company knows me. The equipment is late model and very well maintained. I work hard and play hard but still get my home time. Smith is an outstanding company. They run the Eastern 32 states but are growing in Texas.”

Barry St. Cyr, Long Pond, Pennsylvania, 1 year at Smith Transport.

“I like a lot of things about Smith. They make my job very family oriented. I am not a number at Smith. When I go to Roaring Spring everyone knows my name. They pay attention to detail about the equipment. They genuinely care about the drivers and want them to be happy and satisfied.”

Janelle Grapes, Centerville, Pennsylvania, daughter of a Professional Truck Driver and 1 year at Smith Transport.

“I like the fact that I am a name and not a number at Smith Transport and that I drive a truck in a family atmosphere. When I found out my mother was ill, the outreach from dispatch and other drivers was great. I like doing Southeast Regional and I am home on weekends by choice. I am a Girl Scout leader as well as an EMT and Firefighter on weekends and Smith supports my community work. I have 4 children and 4 grandkids, and my dispatcher gets me to my daughter’s house in North Carolina when I need to see them. They also get me home for my Girl Scout meetings. Smith has nice equipment and if I hear or see anything that I don’t think is right, they are on it right away. It doesn’t matter what age you are, Smith will find something for you to do. Even if you don’t want to drive, you can work in the warehouse or repair shop. I have two Soaring Eagle hats from Smith, each one for helping out another driver.”

Smith Transport is an Equal Opportunity Employer and an employee owned company. Call Smith Transport at 888-219-8042 and let them prove to you how they are different from other companies. Smith Transport has local, regional and long-haul freight and is currently hiring drivers in nearly every state. Veterans are welcome. If you are still skeptical about working for Smith Transport, don’t just talk to a recruiter, talk to one of their drivers, too.

Captions:

Smith Transport President Todd Smith 2nd from left) and CEO Barry Smith (3rd from left) with some of the Driver Mentors at Smith’s Driver Appreciation Event held on September 12th at their Roaring Spring, PA headquarters.

Smith Transport drivers enjoy lunch at the Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania headquarters during Truck Driver Appreciation Week.