I was riding with my daughter, an account manager for a cosmetics company, to a shopping center in Pennsylvania where her product line was carried. She was doing the driving, and we were engaged in good mother/daughter conversation. All of a sudden Stefanie yelled, “Mom! Did you see the back of that truck?” “No,” I responded, wondering why she would be calling my attention to the back of a truck! “You’ve got to read their sign on the back,” she yelled even more loudly. “It’s what you say in all of your books!” Now she had my full attention, but the truck was exiting the highway, and we were falling farther and farther behind. I couldn’t make out the signage and felt devastated. So I shouted to her, “FOLLOW THAT TRUCK!!!” My daughter heard the urgency in my voice, so she put the pedal to the medal and we caught up within reading distance pretty quickly. And when I saw the signage, I could hardly believe my eyes: “A company that CARES for you; more HOME time; CULTURE OF APPRECIATION” (I use those words so often, I thought I had made them up! Was I dreaming? I quickly jotted down the phone number for truck drivers to call to join the A&S Kinard FAMILY (as this was too good to be true).
The moment we got to the shopping center, I made the call. “I’m not a truck driver,” I began somewhat apologetically when someone answered the phone, “but I need to talk to someone about the sign on the back of your truck!” I’m sure the nice person there thought I was a bit out of my mind, but she could hear that this was urgent! I was put in touch with Corporate Recruiter Thomas Ghoerig, who seemed to think I was not only NOT out of my mind, but really on to something. He told me that while throughout the trucking industry, driver turnover rates were extremely high (over 100%), in their company, the average was much, much lower (28%). He attributed this difference to their very successful employee engagement and retention policies, focusing on having and demonstrating a true culture of appreciation! This was awesome, and I knew I had met up with a kindred spirit and company. So I asked for the visionary of the company — the person responsible for making this a reality.
I was directed to A&S Services Group CEO Ken Buck, who had this to say about how and why they created this culture:
“Our Management Team is made up of people that have spent their entire careers in trucking,” Mr. Buck told me. “They are the on the front line with our customers and are the backbone upon which all of our successes rest. They deliver the goods that our culture relies upon each and every day. Without them, our economy would fail. We therefore embrace them and their hard work at every step. Most of what we do to create the “family feel” for drivers in our company, is about culture. As part of this culture, we create a “driver manager to driver” relationship that addresses each individual’s schedules, work assignments, family requirements and earnings requirements in order to try to match all expectations and to go beyond the normal employer/employee relationship. Ours is a very challenging work environment, and we need to remember that and act on it at all times!”
This really rang true for me when I thought about what it takes to establish that “culture of appreciation” referred to on the back of the A&S Kinard trucks. This is true for any organization, anywhere and everywhere, but particularly in a challenging work environment, it is even more necessary. Think of police officers, fire station personnel, hospital emergency room doctors and nurses, soldiers, and countless other industry examples.
In further explaining A&S Services Group’s excellent track record in employee retention and engagement, Ken Buck continued with his own personal pride, “When either professional or personal accomplishments are made known to us, a driver’s name is published and he or she is included in our group that is branded with “A&S Kinard Pride” and they receive a shirt and companywide notoriety. We are more successful than our peers in hiring and retaining drivers because we offer primarily short haul, local opportunities where drivers can live at home, be active with their families and not have forced hours on weekends and holidays. There is a high degree of variability in the types of jobs our drivers can elect to do. This is all because we care about them as people,”
And that certainly shows! We can all help create that culture of appreciation, and I think we are coming close to reaching that “tipping point” in making this a reality.