March 2018

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

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Page 39 of 71

38 | Overdrive | March 2018 W ith the continuing expansion of online commerce, com- pounded by what fleets say is a critical driver shortage, team drivers are in big demand. E-commerce sales are growing 20 to 25 percent each year, and with it, expec- tations of rapid delivery. Team drivers, with their ability to shave a day or so off a solo driver's delivery time, offer an obvious way for fleets to try to keep up with that demand. "The speed to market is so essential for some of these expedited custom- ers," says Angelo Gibson, associate vice president of operations for Werner Enterprises of Omaha, Nebraska. "People buy something, and the expecta- tion is to get it in a day or two. We're having to provide more teams that expe- dite getting that freight to the distribu- tion centers." Amazon Prime promises free two- day shipping. About two-thirds of U.S. households are Prime subscribers. In addition to the growing demand from e-commerce, other factors make it hard for fleets to find any drivers, let alone teams: The economy is growing at a strong pace, e-logging is crimping productivity, and drivers aging out of the workforce are not being replaced by enough younger drivers. Covenant Transport, a team-oriented fleet based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has catered to expedited freight for 32 years. In the last five years, the company has added about 250 teams. "E-commerce has been a fantastic thing for us," says Rob Hatchett, the company's vice president of recruiting. "We've seen growth with fresh produce as well, with more people focusing on eating healthier food. That's team freight as well. Produce has to get from California to the East Coast in a timely manner." Many teams, especially owner- operators, have a partner in mind when they lease with a fleet, Hatchett says. If that's not the case, some fleets, including Covenant and Werner, have programs that try to match drivers based on per- sonality traits, whether they smoke or not, music preferences and more. "We look at where they live, because if they live close together, it's easier to get them home," Gibson says. "We IN THE SWEET SPOT E-commerce and a growing driver shortage are pushing team pay and bonuses to new heights. A lack of detention can be icing on the cake. BY MATT COLE Long Beach, Mississippi-based Philip and Eva Keith have been driving team for more than 20 years. Philip sometimes gets out of the truck for a walk when argu- ments arise. "It's best to stop, because you can't let your temper distract you while driving," he says.

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