Convoy co-founder gets a candid chat with drivers on his real-life trucking road trip

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A trucking social media maven, a hauler whose dedication to his faith is in the name of his company, and a long-married couple who share life in the taxicab. It’s with whom Grant Goodale, co-founder and chief transportation experience officer of trucking logistics technology company Convoy, rode the final 1,200 miles or so of his journey from the company’s base in Seattle, in Washington State, to the Mid-America Trucking Show this week in Louisville, Ky.

He was looking for the kind of insight, wisdom and outspokenness about the concerns of today’s truckers best assembled on the road, at work.

“I observed how they work, what the challenges are. I got to watch their love of the road, their love of the craft and their skill,” Goodale told Forbes.com after arriving in Louisville. “It was an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience. It was amazing to see these professionals we rely on for our day-to-day life at work.

Goodale landed in San Antonio, Texas to take his first ride with Thomas Singletary. He runs a small trucking business with five trucks, five drivers, and eight trailers that he named Tithing Transport LLC in Converse, just east of San Antonio, with his wife Pauline and niece Natasha. Goodale described him as “a pious man”.

“He basically got out of homelessness launching that career and he’s thriving today,” Goodale explained. “It was really heartwarming to see how well they were able to create themselves.”

Goodale took a ride with Singletary to a distribution center to pick up a trailer which they hauled about 300 miles to Plano north of Dallas. Along the way, Goodale told Singletary’s story of how he built his business, the dreams of the charitable foundation his wife started and a hard truth, particularly about rising fuel prices.

Singletary told Goodale he would normally spend between $3,000 and $4,000 to fill his five trucks with diesel fuel. But last week the fuel bill soared to “over $7,000”.

“You can imagine, for a small business, the impact that has,” Goodale said. “It’s the smaller carriers that are going to feel the pressure because they’re the ones that don’t have big bank accounts and tons of working capital.”

That wasn’t Singletary’s only concern.

“He got into business pretty early in life and really fell in love with the camaraderie and the feeling that truckers are kind of a brotherhood and I think he was worried that people have the impression that there is a shortage of drivers. is gone,” Goodale recounted. His advice to young hauliers is to get out and see the world and get a feel for what it’s like to be a long-haul trucker before committing too much to staying in one area to start a business.

After parting ways, Goodale’s next ride was a totally different experience with Jacinda Duran, best known for her large following. social media accounts as Jacinda Lady Truck’n. They spent a long day and a long night to reach Tennessee.

Part of the trip was what truckers call “bobtailing.” Goodale explained that you have to drive empty to get to the next loaded trailer and referenced data collected by Convoy and the industry which estimates that 35% of the kilometers traveled by heavy trucks are driven empty.

“Think of the wasted time and energy this represents for carriers,” he says in despair. “Think of the money and lost wages this represents for carriers. This is a huge source of inefficiency in this industry. It raises the prices of everything we buy.

Truckers want to be on the road hauling payloads, but they often lose hours getting their trailers loaded or unloaded. The industry is more often adopting a practice called “drop and hook” where the driver drops a full trailer and picks up one that is pre-loaded, which hopefully saves a lot of time.

It doesn’t always work that way.

“That’s exactly what I did with Jacinda and it still took us three hours to pick up the trailer and get out because there was a huge line at the door,” Goodale recalled. “Then she had a mechanical problem with her truck, a simple fix. It’s not a nightmare. It’s normal. That’s what they take care of. It’s trucking. It is what it is.

The final 250 mile leg from Goodale to Louisville was spent in the company, and by taxi, with Mike and Dawn Ellis. Based in Pearl River, Louisiana, and driving for Greenmiles, the couple have been married for 21 years, spending much of their time on the road hauling cargo for months at a time.

They jokingly call living, working and driving nearby “a test” for their marriage, Goodale said.

What is a real test for them, the Ellis told Goodale, are business inefficiencies that lead to wasted time, money and misconceptions about driver shortages.

“I learned that they don’t believe there is a shortage of drivers. It’s an efficiency issue. Rather, they think the problem is that the big carriers are struggling to find drivers to fill the new trucks they have over-purchased in anticipation of a huge increase in the amount of freight being moved,” Goodale said.

In light of these inefficiencies, Goodale said Mike Ellis told him, “I could move more freight for all these shippers if I could predictably and reliably come in and out of facilities and plan my schedule more reliably and travel more loaded kilometres.

By the time Goodale arrived in Louisville with the Ellis, he found himself with a full load of insight and lessons learned about the industry his company serves.

Aside from the specific issues the pilots linked to Goodale, his eyes were opened by what he saw through the windshield from his perch.

“When you sit on top of everyone in one of these trucks and see how the cars and stuff, they call them four wheelers, move around them and how little they have respect for the physics of an 80,000 pound truck that takes two football fields to stop. It opened my eyes to the difficulty and environment in which these drivers operate on a daily basis to move the goods we depend on,” observed Goodale.

His three days on the road were no mere adventure. Goodale said he plans to make everything he learns “consumable” for Convoy employees.

“I hope the experiences I have reported and shared with people in my business open their eyes to the magnitude of the challenges our carriers face and better inform the products and services we build for them. “, did he declare. “There is so much value in just hearing from the carriers themselves, understanding that the challenges they face in their own words are invaluable.”

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