Arkansas Trucking Association

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Up Front - The Year of the Driver

Gary Salisbury headshotGary Salisbury
Chairman & CEO, Fikes Truck Line
Chairman, Arkansas Trucking Association

Over the past several years it seems like all we have talked about, looked at, pointed at and cussed about has been regulations and the re-regulation of our industry.  From CSA and electronic logos to EPA standards and the California Air Resource Board, just to name the big ones.  If only we didn't have all o these rules and regulations we could make some money. Oh, and don't forget those high fuel prices.

But guess what? We have taken our eye off of the real solution to our problems.  It all goes back to the Golden Rule of trucking, at least according to my uncle who drove and retired from Yellow Freight: "The driver, he will either make ya or break ya."

A few weeks ago I attended the Truckload Carriers Association annual conference and
discovered the top three reasons we continue to struggle. Reason No. 1? Drivers. Reason
No. 2? Drivers. Reason No. 3? You guessed, it—drivers. My uncle was right.

We have been so busy running here and running there that we took our eyes off the
 ball…the one resource that keeps America moving, the Driver, yes Mr. and Mrs. Trucker.

As chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association in 2012, my primary goal was to
 improve the driver’s image. As chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association, I have
 repeatedly stressed the importance of being proactive in improving our image and the
 perception the motoring public has of our drivers. Not how our trucks look, not how slow
 we go, not how closely we follow other vehicles or how many breaks we take. It’s the driver.
 It’s the driver because we can’t do it ourselves. It’s the driver because all of the technology
 in the world can’t get a load of chickens from Arkansas to California without them.

 It’s really simple: drivers have to be restored to the status of our number one asset. Hug
 them. Thank them. Respect them. And, most of all, listen to them. As our industry giants
 have predicted, the driver shortage is here and if you are going to make it through the next
 five years, you better figure out real quick that our answer is sitting in a $100,000 truck, in
 front of an 80-foot long, 80,000-pound trailer traveling 63.4 miles per hour down I-30.

Sign-on bonuses of $5,000+, referrals and about anything else you can think of is not
 going to cure this shortage. I’ll let you in on a secret, your driving force knows if you
 respect them or not. As an ex-driver and ex-contractor, I can tell you this: just one call
 to your safety department and every driver from Florida to Washington will know what
 kind of mood the office is in. Listen to, cherish, respect and appreciate your drivers and
 you will start to see a change in your turnover. It takes time. It won’t change overnight,
 but as their opinions of your company change, so will the stories they tell their friends—
 potential drivers.

Our culture has to become driver-friendly; through our equipment, shippers, dispatchers
and those in the corner offices. It’s the year of the driver…if you want to stay in business.
Drivers, they will make ya or break ya.

Gary Salisbury
Chairman & CEO, Fikes Truck Line
Chairman, Arkansas Trucking Association

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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