Jeremy Reymer, CEO and founder of DriverReach, is joined on this episode of Taking The Hire Road by a great friend and experienced industry leader, Tracy Rushing, the executive director of safety and HR at R.E. Garrison.
Rushing began her transportation career in 1996, and she said working for Garrison for the last year and a half has been the best trucking profession decision she’s ever made.
Garrison, in business since 1959, is commonly viewed as something of a destination carrier for drivers. Amid an industrywide driver shortage, Garrison actually has a wait list of driver applicants. A driver-first mindset, which is evident in each of the company’s decisions, has been key to this positive reputation.
“They understand legacy. They understand the driver’s role in keeping America moving. They make every decision by putting their drivers first,” Rushing said about Garrison. “It’s the motto of Garrison, and they truly do weigh every decision that they make on what impact that it’s gonna have for their drivers and their drivers’ families. It always just makes good sense for the company as a whole when we make our decisions that way.”
A recent example of this approach in action can be seen in the company’s ELD provider transition. While it was a massive undertaking for drivers and support staff to change out ELDs in 800 trucks, it was necessary to provide a better driver experience.
Keeping drivers engaged with technology is a challenge for all carriers, as it was for Garrison, especially during this transition. The company knew closing training gaps had to start on the support side.
“We really have adopted this mentality — kudos to the Garrison staff, they really picked up on it and owned it — but there really are only two positions in a trucking company: Either you drive the truck or you support the person who drives the truck,” Rushing said.
Garrison made an effort to encourage the support staff to take ownership of their roles as support, and this included working one-on-one with drivers to overcome technical issues through the lens of what makes sense for the driver first.
As an employee-owned company, feeling empowered in their roles comes more naturally to Garrison’s people.
On the driver side, for instance, Garrison’s Crown Driver Program has been paramount to giving drivers a clear path to success in the organization, which has helped improve recruiting and retention.
The Crown Driver Program is a two-year path in which drivers achieve more responsibility within the company. This includes taking on roles as trainers, driver council members, truck driving championship participants and legacy leaders. The time commitment of the program and the pride drivers take in achieving Crown Driver status help drivers take ownership of their roles.
The driver-first mindset is even present in the company’s back-end systems. Support staff leverages its systems to better support drivers. For example, Garrison uses DriverReach for applicant tracking but also for other departments to use it to help provide better support for drivers, such as identifying a driver’s experience before coaching someone.
“It’s been really exciting these last few months,” Rushing said. “I think a lot of that has to do with DriverReach. We have the right tools for our recruiting team, and that has just made a lot of difference for us on our support side.”
Though technology is an important tool for the company, Garrison’s commitment to its people is at the heart of its ability to recruit and retain drivers.