Fortune Transportation continues to evolve with drivers and safety programs
Celebrating its 40th year, Fortune Transportation knows that the one constant in running a successful business is change.
With 150 trucks in its refrigerated fleet, the Windom, Minnesota company is always looking for technology to improve efficiency, while always having an eye out for safety. And, as Leland Krumrey, driver services manager for Fortune Transportation sits at his desk, behind him bears witness. There are plaques and articles showcasing the company’s accomplishments. It’s a literal wall of fame, which includes ATA’s 2017 President’s Award for safety in the under 25-million mile category. “We’re especially proud of that,” said Krumrey. “We were recognized as the best of the best - for those of us in the trucking industry, it’s like winning an Oscar.”
Most companies might rest on its laurels after a big win like that, but not Fortune Transportation. “We continually look to improve,” said Krumrey, who has been with the company for 22 years - 14 as a driver. “In 2018 we wanted to automate and electronically file driver information and be more efficient. So, I researched companies that might be able to help us and found TruckRight. It was a good move to engage with them; it’s been a great success.”
What started as one project quickly grew as Dirk Kupar, president and founder of TruckRight showcased the company’s capabilities. “We’re a company dedicated to helping trucking companies streamline HR paperwork, but we also work with them on tools to help in driver recruiting. We offer ways to attract candidates through an engaging website, which we can design, and social media. Plus, we offer online training services through our Ignite E-learning platform that is powered by CarriersEdge, a leader in online driver training. We’ve had the relationship with CarriersEdge for years and their courses are really well thought out, pertinent, and keep drivers engaged. The information sticks - and that’s what you want.”
After revamping Fortune Transportation’s website, emphasizing how the company is a driver-centric company, TruckRight helped the company streamline the time it took to review driver applicants. Plus it helped increase the applicant pool. “When we have a driver position available, we now get the notice up on multiple job boards, and we have social media outlets that TruckRight created for us,” said Krumrey. “And, when a driver Google searches our company to learn more about us before applying, they’re seeing some very good things and that encourages them to apply. Overall, we’ve seen a significant increase in candidates, which allows us to make better hiring decisions.”
While the applicant pool increased, the workload for screening actually decreased. “Our recruiter used to spend a lot of time on the phone with applicants - walking them through the application process. And that was inefficient,” said Krumrey. “TruckRight worked with us to improve the application process for driver, and we now review everything online. We can get back to drivers in a very short amount of time if there is a match with our company, the hiring process can begin. Plus we can do things remotely, which has really helped us during COVID-19. Our recruiter can work from home.”
Keeping trucks filled with quality drivers is one thing. Training and retaining them is another. Today, the company has an enviable driver turnover rate, “and that’s been accomplished through a number of channels,” said Krumrey. “It starts with successful onboarding; connections with the team at Fortune; and recognition for driving performance.
“For pre-orientation we have our new drivers take three online courses: Whistleblower Protection for Drivers, Food Safety, and one on CSA. We track how they do and if they have any troubles, we work with them during formal orientation.”
According to Krumrey, in-house orientation normally takes 2- to 3 days based on the size of the group. “Then we engage them with a driver manager who also serves as their dispatcher. This gives them an immediate connection and a teammate for loads. I also meet with the drivers and they can come to me with any questions or problems. As a former driver with the company I’ve likely been through anything they’ll go through - so I’m always here to help.”
Once on the road, drivers have quarterly online courses that are designed to help with conditions they may be encountering. “This past winter, we had a course on slips, trips and falls,” said Krumrey. “Online courses work well for us and drivers can take the class when it’s most convenient for them.
“If we have a driver who we feel needs some extra training - they may have been involved in a fender bender for example - we can pick from a library of online courses offered by CarriersEdge. It’s been very helpful.”
Are all the new programs working? “They are,” smiled Krumrey. “We track the FMCSA metrics and compare how we’re doing with other fleets. When it comes to unsafe driving, we’re 98% better than our peer group; in HOS we’re 89% better, and in Vehicle Maintenance DOT inspections, we’re 87% better. We think it’s been the combination of our ability to hire the right drivers, our strong commitment to safety, and a family atmosphere that recognizes the accomplishments of our drivers.”
To that end, the company has several driver appreciation days each year and the owner, Perry Olson, often has a fish fry. To recognize safe driving, drivers receive plaques, patches, gift cards and duffel bags at different safe driving milestones - starting at 250,000 miles. A handsome wood-carved truck plaque is given to drivers who reach 1 million safe miles. An annual driver event then recognizes all driver accomplishments.
To date, the company has had 101 drivers who have received the 1 million mile plaque, while three drivers have gone on to reach 4 million safe miles with the company. “These numbers say a lot about the quality of our drivers and their dedication to the company,” said Krumrey. “Our drivers, our commitment to safety, and our dedication to quality customer service is what’s got us to our 40 year anniversary. And I’m confident it will get us to the next 40.”