This year the economy has continued along its growth path at a modest pace. But this positive outlook also means that capacity for the trucking industry will remain an issue for some time to come. Since capacity is often one of our customers’ biggest concerns, the million-dollar question becomes, what are we doing about it?
Capacity is something we’re used to focusing on, but recently, we’ve been tackling it from all sides. Side one is our employee base. The more stable our workforce, the more dependable service we can provide you. So we’ve ramped up efforts to recruit and retain top talent—especially drivers and mechanics.
When employees have the right training to do their jobs well, they do a better job and they take pride in their work. So, part of our employee retention program includes solid training techniques that concentrate on maximizing the use of trailer space and utilizing loading practices designed to prevent damage.
Newer equipment also helps attract top candidates, with the positive side effects of helping to create capacity and a safer, more reliable fleet. With that in mind, we have increased our capital expenditure to almost $225 million—roughly double what we spent in 2013—and by 2016, approximately 40% of our fleet will be two years old or less.
Technology also works in tandem with our equipment to boost capacity. Our latest driver communications system helps track freight, keeps lines of communications open with drivers and makes our roadways (and your shipments) safer so we only have to deliver them once. For example, all of our newer units are equipped with advanced safety features such as roll-stability and following-distance technology, which have already made a difference. And very soon, we’ll be able to retrieve engine-fault codes remotely, allowing us to do preventative maintenance to cut back on roadside breakdown delays. All of this helps to get the freight down the road faster and in good shape.
On a final note, we’re regularly reengineering our network based on volume to optimally handle all freight that goes through our system. As a result, we have opened new hubs, improved our next-day service and expanded terminals where the level of business makes sense.
So, where capacity is concerned, we’re tackling it from every angle because our goal is to earn the privilege of supplying all of your freight transportation solutions. With a strategy of recruiting and retaining the best employees, making sure our equipment is top-notch and ensuring we have a network infrastructure that provides optimal support, we believe that we’re making definite progress toward accomplishing that objective.
President and CEO
Estes Express Lines