Prime News

  • Trucking advocates say driving fatigue has to be stopped

    Reposted from

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- There is a push to make the roads safer after a deadly wreck in Republic on Wednesday.  A California man is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after police say he caused a chain reaction wreck.

    That crash killed Lawrence Coan, 65, and Corey Gresham, 41, when they were rear-ended and became sandwiched between two big rigs on U.S. 60.   According to trucking advocates, it's a situation that could have been prevented.

    "It has been the number one safety problem in the trucking industry every year for the last 30 years," said lawyer and truck driver safety advocate Dan Ramsdell.

    He says driver fatgiue happens too often.

    "There are roughly 110,000 people each year that are killed or injured in crashes with big trucks."

    Ramsdell says more than a third are caused by driver fatigue.

    "You have inattentiveness, you have lane changes, you have failure to slow, you've got all kinds of little issues that each can have a fatigue base to it," Ramsdell said.

    In the case of the recent wreck in Republic, the driver, Lei Sun, had driven over the legal limit -- 70 hours in an eight-day period as regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Records from the FMCSA show the company Sun worked for had marks against it. Out of the last four inspections in a 24-month period, half the drivers were deemed out of service.

    "That means that he was declared by a federal enforcement officer to be illegally behind the wheel for any one of a number of reasons, one of which is fatigue driving -- that's the most frequent one," Ramsdell said.

    Over at Prime Trucking in Springfield, safety is a serious issue.

    "We spend a lot of money to make certain we are as safe as we can possibly be," said Prime Trucking Director of Safety Don Lacy.

    One way the company curbs driver fatigue is electronic logging. They use the electronic systems instead of written logs that can be altered.

    "They were easy to cheat on. When you go to electronic logs, that takes all of that away," Lacy said.

    Even if a driver stays within the legal limits of hours, fatigue can still happen. Prime finds other ways to fight back.

    "We have a system called OnGuard.  It actually sends a warning to the driver if he was approaching particularly a stopped vehicle. Then it applies the brakes."

    Ramsdell says not every company operates like Prime, and driver fatigue continues to be a major problem on the road.

    "The whole problem is greed based," he said.

    To a point, Prime agrees.

    "It's done for money. Of course people get fatigued. They make mistakes. They have accidents," Lacy said.

    A good starting point to fixing the problem, both say, is changing the way the industry does business.

    "Electronic on-board recorders should be mandatory in this business," said Lacy.

    "The companies actually made more money by complying with the law. That's a pretty strong message," Ramsdell said.

    Ramsdell goes further.  He believes, until the companies are held legally responsible for their drivers, nothing will truly change.

  • Ron Hoover wins Driver of the Year

    Ron Hoover wins Driver of the Year

    Ron Hoover was selected as the Driver of the Year by the Missouri Trucking Association last night at the MOTA Banquet.  Prime is proud of Ron Hoover for being chosen for this honor as well as Thomas Miller and Glen Horack who were also nominated for this award.

  • Springfield trucking company puts drivers on simulators before roads

    Reposted from

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Those who drive them have called semis 80,000-pound missiles but only, they say, if the people operating them don't know what they're doing.  At Prime Incorporated, based in Springfield and one of the largest trucking companies in the country, they say it's safety-first.

    Training to drive with Prime starts in a classroom, not on the road.  It's a long road to get to the road.  Even those who have driven for other companies take computer tests and what Prime calls the most realistic test available to ensure they're road ready.

    It's like an arcade for adults.  Only the object is to get through this course without killing anybody.

    Josh Bishop sat behind the wheel of a giant simulator on Wednesday afternoon.  He has been a truck driver for six years but not for Prime, so he has to master this virtual road before the company will put him on the real road.  He already knows the real road can be hazardous.

    "A lady side-swiped me about a year ago," Bishop said.

    He didn't cause the collision but he still felt bad.

    "I was worried about her."

    Instructor Wally Anthony's job is to teach drivers how to avoid those situations whenever possible.

    "All of our drivers have to go through the simulators before they go out on a truck, and the simulators are really neat because I can sit there and watch a gentleman drive and tell he's hitting his gears, checking his mirrors, keeping it in the lanes, the correct speed, that they're looking down the road," and thinking ahead, Anthony said, because time is not on their side.

    Stopping a semi truck is no easy task.  A truck traveling 60 miles an hour will take the length of two football fields to gradually come to a complete stop.  Then once a driver does stop, he has another distance to consider.

    "Ten foot ahead, so when you're stopped at a stoplight you want at least ten feet between you and the vehicle in front of you," said Anthony.

    Anthony says not every driver demonstrates the awareness behind the wheel that Prime seeks.

    "Out of 40 students, we might send three home."

    Bishop probably isn't one of them.  He almost beat the game -- almost.

    "It would have been better if I got all 100s," he said, grinning, looking down at three categories on his results sheet.  Two are 100 percent, one is 99 percent.

    Drivers who haven't driven before have to spend at least 75 hours in the actual truck with a trainer.  Sometimes they drive for as many as 150 supervised hours, and that's after the simulator and all the classroom work.

    Veteran drivers with Prime do a review on the simulator every year.  If one gets into what Prime defines as a preventable accident on the real road, he or she meets with the company's safety board to determine if more training is needed.

  • Prime Inc. Announces Large Scale TrailerTail Deployment

    ATDynamics, a global supplier of semi-trailer rear-drag aerodynamics technology, announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show that Prime Inc.,  after extensive fuel economy and durability testing, is installing TrailerTail aerodynamic fairings on all remaining new trailers, approximately 450, purchased by Prime in 2013.

    After extensive technology evaluation, including independent SAE Type II J1321 testing and wind tunnel testing, Prime found that a combination of TrailerTails and trailer skirts provided fuel savings at highway speed of any commercially available fairing technology.

    More than 12,000 ATDynamics TrailerTails are currently deployed in the United States with more than 50,000 expected on U.S. highways by 2014.

    At ATDynamics press conference at MATS, it was stated that the company has approximately 99% of the market share and experienced a sales growth from 2011 to 2012 of around 500%.

  • HDT Fleet Innovator Robert E. Low Shows Appreciation for his Drivers

    Prime Inc. is headquartered in Springfield, Mo., the “Show-Me State,” and President Robert E. Low says showing drivers genuine appreciation is the key to the company’s relatively low turnover rate and tremendous growth over the years.

    What would become Prime Inc. got its start when Low bought a dump truck while attending college in the early ‘70s.

    He later traded the dump truck for a road truck, then dropped his pursuit of a degree for trucking.

    Low doubled the size of the fleet every year from 1972 through 1979, when, at age 29, he made a million dollars. Within two years, however, he paid the price for that rapid growth and landed in bankruptcy court.

    Not only had deregulation hit, but the company had too much debt.

    “When the prime interest rate went to 21.5%, that ate up that million dollars in profit pretty quickly,” Low says. “We spent three and a half years in Chapter 11. It was really dark times, but we developed a lot of the culture and business practices that we employ today, that have been the touchstones to Prime’s success.”

    One of those touchstones is Prime’s independent contractor business model.

    “The driver as the owner of the truck is the best way to pay drivers, and the most powerful way to motivate them to act like business-people and be rewarded for the right business practices such as fuel efficiency and productivity,” he says.

    The practice started out as a necessity. Prime couldn't get credit to buy new trucks. However, it was able to use available tax incentives to get third-party investors to buy equipment. Prime then teamed up drivers with the investors in a sort of profit-sharing program.

    “When Prime came out of Chapter 11, we

    kind of took the investors’ place and we continued to refine the program,” Low says.

    Today, although about 300 of Prime's contractors own their equipment or are financing it through other sources, most contractors lease their trucks through a Prime subsidiary called Success Leasing.

    Then they turn around and lease the truck to Prime under an operating lease. Contractors who decide the grass might be greener at another company are free to sign on elsewhere and keep up their lease payments with Success Leasing.

    After the lease is up, drivers can turn in the truck and start a new one. About 15% of the time, Low says, they go ahead and set up a loan with Success Leasing to buy out the residual value and own the truck outright.

    Building a smart owner-operator

    It's not enough, however, to team up a driver and a truck and expect to have a successful owner-operator.

    “We want our drivers to be as capable and as qualified and as knowledgeable and as smart as they can be,” Low says. “They don't have the time and resources the company has to research the most fuel-efficient equipment and driving techniques, so we have programs that help them with that.”

    Prime's Associate Career Enhancement, or ACE, program, teaches classes based on Small Business Administration guidelines on how to be in business for yourself, how to create a cash flow report, how to compute miles per gallon, etc.

    Today, Prime has more than 5,000 trucks in its fleet, and two-thirds of those are independent contractors. In addition to the individual owner-operators, Prime has a division for small fleets who form their own LLC entities, acquire their own operating authority, get their own insurance, and operate under a brokerage agreement with Prime.

    “Some of these guys started here and are up to 50 or 60 trucks,” Low says. “We love seeing that.”

    Showing the love

    There's a lot more that Prime offers its contractors, as well, which helps explain why its turnover is around 50% although Low says there is still room for improvement.

    Training: Prime uses its experienced contractors as CDL training instructors, along with some classroom training, simulators and a private training pad, to help train new drivers.

    Trainees must have 80,000 to 100,000 miles in the program as second seats before they're allowed to hit the road on their own.

    “They have a good solid foundation from a real quality trainer in a one-to-one teacher-to-student ratio,” Low says.

    The amount they're paid is a function of the longevity of the trainee, so the trainers tend to stay in touch with former trainees to help them work through some of the questions and challenges new drivers have, which also helps retention.

    Driver Amenities: “We take a lot of pride in our driver amenities,” Low says, believing that by investing in such facilities Prime is showing in a concrete way that it values its contractors.

    Its Millennium facility at its headquarters opened in 2000 and features a fitness facility including a basketball court (where Low frequently plays a game with drivers and other employees), a spa, a salon, an upscale cafeteria, a 55-seat movie theater, child care, a physician's office with a company doctor, driver lounges, laundry facilities, sleeping rooms — all the conveniences of home.

    Another facility in Scranton, Pa., has many of the same amenities.

    Driver Health: As the Truckload Carriers Association chairman this year, Low has made driver health his primary initiative, expanding on work done at Prime Inc.

    “If you really love your drivers, what are you doing about their health?” he asks, adding, “The only truly safe driver is a healthy driver.”

    Prime has a dedicated driver fitness coach, Siphiwe Baleka, a triath-lete who went through Prime's driver training and lease program.

    He runs small groups of drivers through a 13-week program, teaching them how to eat and exercise to lose weight and stay fit.

    “It's become very popular to say, ‘We love our drivers,'” Low says. “We try to do things so it's more than that. If you're not walking the talk, it rings hollow.”

  • Prime Inc. Contractors of the Month February 2013

    February 2013 Awardees include:

    Richard Daniels Jr.

    Refrigerated Division

    Anthony V. Lopez

    Flatbed Division

    John H. Quick

    Tanker Division

    Rogena Derboven

    Company Tanker Division

    Ernest L. Garneau

    Company Refrigerated

    Fidencio Aguilar

    Company Flatbed Division

    Thomas K. Bryant & Phillip Lewis

    Refrigerated Team Division

  • Prime Inc. Recognizes Millionaire Members

    Recent Members include:

    R D Smith

    Three Million Mile Millionaire

    Russell C. Reed

    Two Million Mile Millionaire

    Peter F. Del Negro

    Two Million Mile Millionaire

    Matthew J. Buchanan

    Gold Millionaire

    Robert L. Follmer

    Gold Millionaire

    Brian Kretzschmar

    Gold Millionaire

    James E. Lewallen

    Gold Millionaire

    Angela McElwrath

    Gold Millionaire

    Russell C. Reed

    Gold Millionaire

    Jeremy S. Ricker

    Gold Millionaire

    Dziedzorn Seshie

    Gold Millionaire

    Henry L. Stephens, Jr.

    Gold Millionaire

    Clayton E. Saxer, Jr.

    Silver Millionaire

  • Prime Inc. Contractors of the Month

    January 2013 Awardees include:

    Michael C. Hess

    Refrigerated Division

    James A. Brown

    Flatbed Division

    Darin J. Hagerman

    Tanker Division

    Edward J. Jordan

    Company Tanker Division

    Michael P. Perry

    Company Refrigerated

    John A. Edwards

    Company Flatbed Division

    Michael M. Sparks & Nicholas Webster

    Refrigerated Team Division

  • Prime Inc | Keeping Small Trucking Companies Rolling Through Tough Times

    Kim McCowan knows only too well the challenges involved in operating a small-to-midsize trucking company. McCowan, who works with the Advanced Fleet Program for Prime Inc, ran a 25-truck fleet of his own back in the early 1980s.

    McCowan loved what he was doing. He took pride in making his deadlines and keeping commitments to clients and customers. But he knew it couldn’t last.

    “Back then I had seen the writing on the wall,” McCowan said. “I gave excellent service, but I didn’t have the capacity I needed. And I didn’t have the need or the want to string myself out for millions of dollars in debt.”

    Thanks to the Advanced Fleet Program, McCowan is able to give something back to other trucking entrepreneurs who, for a variety of reasons, may be facing tough times—and the possibilities of putting drivers and other employees out of work.

    Advanced Fleet Program started in 2001 as a way to partner with small fleet operators who wanted to be in business with a larger company like Prime Inc, but still hold onto their unique business identities. Carriers with their own authority and insurance partner with Prime on a full-time basis, hauling the larger company’s trailers and taking advantage of Prime’s seamless infrastructure and leading-edge technologies.

    As of today, the partners in the program—approximately 480 trucks—get 77 percent of the line haul revenue. Drivers in the program scan paperwork at Prime truck stops and payment is done via direct deposit within a week. They also take part in Prime’s fuel payment program, which lets them take advantage of Prime’s negotiations with oil companies to lock in the best prices.

    “I think of it like a big umbrella that allows the smaller carriers to get underneath and take advantage of what larger carriers can do,” McCowan said. “They partner up with a larger carrier with a vast freight network that they can trust.”

    McCowan knows that other larger companies may have programs for outside carriers, but he’s found that some of those set aside freight for their partners to haul. “When they partner with us on the Advanced Fleet Program, they actually are going to be in the mix, hauling the same freight that Prime trucks haul, with the exception of high-value or hazardous materials loads. That’s a fair alliance for the carrier and for us.”

    Ask McCowan for Advanced Fleet Program success stories, and he quickly comes up with two favorites. There’s the small carrier that was able to rapidly grow his fleet from 12 trucks to now more than 200 cruising down the nation’s highways. And there’s the story of a former competitor who had to file for bankruptcy, but is able to crawl out from under that burden by joining Advanced Fleet Program, thereby keeping checks flowing to employees and freight moving to destinations.

    McCowan’s personal experience gives him unique insight into the risks and rewards that are part of running a trucking company. With the Advanced Fleet Program, it boils down to having a direct impact on the lives of those helping to steer this vital industry.

    “We take a lot of pride in the fact that we really care about the drivers that are out there,” McCowan said. “There’s a lot of families involved and a lot of livelihoods that depend on those trucks.”

    Prime’s Advanced Fleet Program is the company’s way of partnering with small/midsize fleets that can maintain their unique business identities while accessing Prime’s industry-leading processes and technology. 


  • Prime Inc. Driving Principles: Safety

    Safety: We will operate safely. We will not exhange the safety of an associate or the public for economic gain.

    Visit Prime Shorts

  • Residential Construction Workers Finding New Opportunities with Trucking Jobs

    According to Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, more than 1.4 million residential construction jobs were lost between April 2006 and October of last year. Timothy Wagner, who used to own a painting company, went from picking and choosing which jobs he wanted to not having any at all when the housing and construction market crashed.  After a few years of trying to make ends meet, he decided to look at a new career path – this time as a professional driver in the trucking industry. Wagner’s search led him to Prime Inc., where he has been a driver since January.

    “I didn’t go to college, so I knew that my options might be limited,” explains the 42-year-old. “I was looking for steady work that I could do and a trucking job seemed like the logical answer. It’s nice now to get a paycheck without having to chase my money down myself.”

    The American Trucking Association (ATA) is conducting a national driver recruitment campaign in order to employ a Global Insights, Inc. predicted shortage of 111,000 drivers by 2014 in the trucking industry. The campaign focuses on increasing its pool of driver applicants by appealing to people like Wagner who are looking to embark on a second career.

    The ATA estimates that at the current trends, the driver shortage could balloon to as much as 239,000 drivers by 2022.  In addition, the ATA estimates that 96,178 drivers will be needed every year over the next 10 years to account for the shortage.  The transition of individuals from other industries into trucking can play a large role in bridging the gap on the driver shortage.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment in the construction industry remains at low levels because of the 2007-09 recession, and employment in most construction occupations is not expected to reach pre-recession levels.  The most recent Engineering News Record Construction Industry Confidence Index (CICI) survey shows the construction industry’s uncertainty. The second-quarter 2012 CICI fell six points from the first quarter to 50 on a scale of 100, which represents a flat market. The 378 executives of large construction and design firms responding to the survey believe the market will not begin to show signs of growth until the end of 2013.

    As for the current market, 32% of industry execs polled believe it is still in decline, while only 17% believe it is growing. Only 25% believe the market will be growing within the next six months, while an equal number believe it still will be in decline. However, 51% believe the market will be on the upswing by the end of 2013, compared to only 8% of respondents who believe the market will continue to be in decline in 12 to 18 months.

    For Wagner, the decline in the construction industry meant seeking out a second career.  He researched several trucking companies online before deciding on driving for Prime. He found that the company had the stability he needed with consistent freight and competitive pay.

    “Jumping careers at this point in my life wasn’t something I planned on, and I wanted to get the best grasp on it that I could,” he says. “What really got me was that Prime had better training pay that anyone else. Their training program is longer, but that’s exactly what I needed since I was starting from scratch.”

    Prime is known for its commitment to drivers and being a family-oriented company. It wasn’t too long into his work with Prime when Wagner discovered exactly what that meant. His brother passed away suddenly and Prime not only made it possible for Wagner to go home immediately, but the company gave him as much time as he needed to grieve the loss.

    “I was worried about getting time off because I hadn’t been working here that long, but Prime was more than gracious,” Wagner explains. “The first thing they said to me was, ‘family first.’ They said I had a job to come back to whenever I was ready and I respect that.”

    The professional driver’s schedule has taken some time for Wagner and his family to get used to, but they all agree that the benefits far outweigh the change in lifestyle. With one daughter in college and another one in high school, working for Prime allows Wagner and his wife Claudia to continue enjoying their New Jersey home and plan for the future.

    “You have to be prepared because it is not only a job, but it’s truly a lifestyle,” he adds. “Once you’re ready, you make the commitment and go at it full force. There’s no half doing this job.”

    Opportunities for both company drivers and independent contractors are currently available at Prime, which offers incentives designed to promote safety, on-time service, fuel consumption, tractor maintenance and training. .


  • Prime Inc. Associate Named America’s Road Team Captain

    January 17, 2013 (Springfield, Missouri) – America’s Road Team, a national public outreach program for safety led by an elite group of professional truck drivers, recently named Prime Inc. independent contractor Thomas Miller as one of the America’s Road Team Captains for the organization. Miller is the first person from Prime to be nominated for this prestigious honor.

    “Being a road team captain is the highest honor for a professional driver. We are the voice of the professional truck drivers,” said Miller, who lives in Bunker Hill, Illinois, with his wife and two daughters. “This will allow me to communicate the message of safety to legislators and insurance companies. Through education and training, we can further safety awareness.”

    The American Trucking Association (ATA) created the “America’s Road Team” in 1986 to educate the public about highway safety and the trucking industry. Every two years, the organization chooses exceptional professional drivers to serve as Road Team Captains. These Captains spend a few days each month meeting with the motoring public, the news media, students, transportation officials and government leaders to discuss the trucking industry’s commitment to safety.

    Miller was one of 15 chosen drivers out of the thousands who applied. In order to be considered for the position, he had to submit a video, letter and a list of accomplishments and certifications to the ATA. Miller became a professional driver 17 years ago and has successfully completed his fifth truck lease Success Leasing. This has earned him over $95,000 in lease completion incentives in addition to what he has earned driving a truck with Prime Inc. He has also been a CDL instructor for four years and a trainer for over 13 years.

    “We congratulate Thomas on this incredible achievement and are proud to call him a Prime associate,” said John Hancock director of training and driver recruiting for Prime. “He is a great example of the hard work, dedication and commitment to safety our driving and non-driving associates are known for.”

    About Prime Inc.

    Founded in 1970 by Robert Low, Prime Inc. is North America’s most successful refrigerated, flatbed, tanker and logistics trucking company. Headquartered in Springfield, Mo., Prime's personnel, equipment and technology remains on the cutting edge of the transportation industry, and the company's growth remains steady and well managed. For more information about the driving opportunities at Prime Inc., please visit or call 1-877-PRIME-JOB.

    Come drive with Prime today!
    Call 1-877-PRIME-JOB!
    Prime Inc.
    2740 N. Mayfair
    Springfield, MO 65803

  • Helping drivers live longer

    If you know anything about trucking, you won’t be surprised to hear that over-the-road truck drivers have a life expectancy that’s 12 to 16 years shorter than the average American man. It’s a job that combines long, sedentary hours behind the wheel; the constant high stress of piloting a large, heavy combination vehicle in traffic and at high speeds; shifting sleep cycles in a 24/7 business; and limited choices as to when, where and what to eat.

    “As an industry, we spend a lot of money on equipment, but the most important assets are the people,” says Don Lacy, director of safety for truckload carrier Prime Inc.

    Believing that “a healthy driver is a safer driver,” Prime decided to address the issue with a health and fitness program specifically designed for a driver’s lifestyle. And to establish and run that program, the fleet hired a full-time coach who combines experience as both a truck driver and a high-level athlete.

    Siphiwe Baleka was a highly successful competitive swimmer while he was a student at Yale University, but once he graduated, he gave up competition to travel around the world. Eighteen years later, looking for a way to earn a living while he figured out the next stage of his life, Baleka went through Prime’s driving school and became a leased owner-operator with the fleet for three years.

    While he enjoyed the new job, he also noticed that the lifestyle was having a less positive effect on his weight and health, so he began training to compete in triathlons as he drove. The training routine he developed involved exercises he could do in or around the truck in 30 min. or less, as well as ways to eat a healthier diet. Those efforts not only brought him success as a master-class triathlete, but also led him to develop a series of 29 DVDs to share his program with other drivers.

    Prime was so impressed with the DVDs that it began offering them through its online training website. Then this summer it hired Baleka full-time as its first driver health and fitness coach.

    Baleka’s basic program runs 13 weeks, teaching drivers how to eat and exercise on the road so they can achieve healthy body weights and maintain them. Drivers, who pay an initial fee of $300 as a sign of commitment, apply online. Once accepted, they attend a one-day orientation class and receive program materials and exercise equipment. Baleka checks in with each driver daily, offering small, incremental changes to their routine with the goal being weight loss of about 1 lb. a week. He also checks their progress on a daily 15-min. exercise routine that includes 31 bodyweight exercises that can be completed in or alongside the truck. Once every four weeks, each driver is routed through Prime’s Springfield, MO, headquarters for an in-depth consultation and biometric evaluation. Every driver who completes the 13-week program is then reimbursed $300.

    To date, three classes have completed the program, achieving on average a weight loss of 1.3 to 2 lbs. per week, according to Baleka. By the end of the 13 weeks, he says, the techniques they’ve learned have simply become part of healthier lifestyles that should stay with them for the rest of their lives.

    Baleka also has a class to help drivers with more ambitious fitness goals such as training for and competing in triathlons. Not only is Prime’s driver health and fitness program a success on the individual level, but it is also having a positive impact on the fleet’s driver recruitment and retention, says Lacy. “When you offer people a way to extend their lives and feel better, it sends a message that we care about our drivers, that we want them to have a long and healthy life.”


  • A Prime Example: How to Start a New Career in Trucking

    Edwin P., an employee of 3 years, shares his story on how he got started in the trucking industry and really found a home with Prime.

    My journey began in September 2008, at that time I was working from home as an IT analyst for a major bank. The day after Labor Day, I received a call from my manager, telling me the words no one wants to hear: “You’ve been laid off.” For the next six months, I looked for jobs and went to countless interviews, only to be told that “we’ll be contacting you soon” … or “we have just begun interviewing folks.“

    Then, one day at a Veterans Job Fair, I saw something that caught my eye: a flyer for a trucking school.  I decided to take a closer look at the trucking industry and what I needed to get started in a trucking career. I found out what the schools were asking for, and soon started looking at companies that would not only teach me how to drive a truck, but help me get started with a career in the field as well. While searching the Internet, I found companies that would teach and train me to get my CDL, and other companies that would train me so I could get a job with them. I found one company that would do both: Prime Inc. in Springfield, Mo.

    I started researching Prime and found a lot of good things about the company. I sent in my application and soon was accepted to come to Prime and start my driving career. It started in April 2009, with a week of orientation at the company’s training facilities. While there I met a lot of folks who welcomed me to the Prime family. Then, on that Friday, I met my instructor/ trainer, Dylan Krikwood.  He and I would be together in a truck for three weeks of training, but first I had to earn my CDL.

    I returned to Prime’s instruction pad to prepare myself to get ready for my test in three steps: pre-trip, backing, and a road test. In May 2009, I did it! I passed all three on my first try and earned my CDL, and was immediately hired as a trainee with Prime.

    I then went on the road with Dylan for 50,000 miles of training, learning everything that I needed to know about procedures, paperwork, how to handle situations at shippers and receivers, and everyday duties that need to be done while on the road. I returned in August 2009 to upgrade toward getting my own truck, which I did. After getting my own truck, I was off and running on my own in a new career with Prime.

    I have met a lot of great people at Prime who have helped me along the way, from the owner of the company, Mr. Robert Low, to my fleet manager, back office staff, and maintenance folks. Along the way I have learned that my trucking career wasn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle, and one that is very rewarding in many ways. That’s why I soon decided to become a certified CDL instructor, because I wanted to give back what I was taught and help others get started in the trucking industry – to get their lives started on an exciting new career path, just like I did.

    In working with students, sometimes I sense fear, stress, and anxiety, and I see the looks on their faces that seem to ask, “Can I do this?” or “What in the world am I getting myself into?” But then I also see the satisfaction and excitement on their faces as they get their new career started. Through it all, what I tell them is this: I was that same way as they are now, so I know what they’re going through. Many of my students are preparing to leave their families for the next several months to start their careers. I reassure them that they’re starting a new and rewarding career/lifestyle as a professional driver, and their families will be proud of them and their accomplishments.

    I have taught all kinds of students from all walks of life, and have made great friends along the way. During my two years as an instructor, I have taught twenty students, and each of them has passed their CDL tests; in fact,  thirteen of them got their CDLs on their first attempt, and a good portion of them are still with Prime. The fact that I had the opportunity to help them to start their new career with Prime is extremely gratifying, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

    Last year I was invited to attend the instructors awards banquet; only the top ten instructors are invited. It was my first time to go, I was so thrilled! It turns out that I was one of the top five of instructors – I couldn’t believe it!

    I have three wonderful children, and I have done my best to be there and support them through their high school years. But my daughter – the youngest – struggled through high school as I spent a lot of time gone during the past three years while on the road. I wasn’t there to give her the support that I had given my sons, and when she graduated this past June, I felt hurt and that I had let her down. So much so, that I decided to pursue other companies that might allow me more time at home.

    In July I left Prime and went to another company based in Omaha, Neb. Leaving a company like Prime and going to another one, naturally you start to compare the differences.  Such as how a company runs their drivers, the different policies and procedures, and the equipment they have. Well, it wasn’t long till Prime wanted to see if they could help; they called me and asked, if they had a position that would get me home more, would I come back? I told them that if that right opportunity came around, I would be there in a heartbeat.

    It didn’t take long for the folks at Prime to get back to me with that opportunity;  it came by the way of running intermodal right from my home in Chicago, and the great part of it was I would be home more. It didn’t take long for me to give them a decision – in fact, I gave them the answer that very next day: I would like to come back home to where it all started, and to the people who I had enjoyed working with, coming back home to Prime Inc.

    Prime has been great to me and my family, especially the support that I get from my fleet manager and everyone there at Prime. They’re my second family, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.


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  • Prime Founder Robert Low Named 2012 Central Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year

    Springfield, Missouri – Ernst & Young recently announced Robert Low, president and founder of Prime Inc., as its Entrepreneur of the Year® 2012 in the Central Midwest at a special gala at The Sheraton Overland Park Hotel in Kansas City, Kansas, on June 5. This prestigious award is given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

    “I am very humbled and honored to have received this award, but it really belongs to Prime’s hardworking drivers. They are the key to our success,” said Low. “I want to thank them for continuing to make Prime a leader in the transportation industry and for their commitment to hard work and safety.”

    Low founded Prime Inc. in 1970 as a 19-year-old engineering student at the University of Missouri. With nearly 30 years of experience, Low’s keen instincts and intuitive managerial style have propelled Prime to the forefront of the transportation industry by providing safe, on-time delivery of goods throughout North America. Today, the company has grown to more than 4,300 trucks and over 7,500 trailers.

    Now in its 26th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries throughout the world. Regional award winners, including Low, continue to the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 17, 2012.

  • Prime Inc. Honors 2011 Instructor of the Year

    Springfield, Missouri – Prime Inc. recently named Jerry Gambrell its 2011 Instructor of the Year. Since Gambrell started working for Prime two years ago, he has won multiple awards for best pre-trip inspections and proven himself to be a strong leader for Prime's driver training program.

    "Recognition like this means so much to me," said Gambrell. "Not only am I able to give back to the industry that has allowed me to provide for my family, but I'm with a company that realizes my worth and treats me accordingly."

    After a brief period of time working in healthcare, Gambrell decided that he was being called to the trucking industry. He spent about eight years with an LTL carrier, but eventually felt like he needed a change that provided more opportunities for him and his family. Gambrell eventually decided that he wanted to become an owner operator, which would allow him to manage his own business and be in control of his career, and just needed the right company to partner with.

    "I spent a lot of time researching different companies and Prime became the logical choice for me and my family. Prime had all the crucial components I was looking for," said Gambrell. "Not only were they a stable company that was well respected in the industry, but they were growing and its freight network made me feel confident that the miles would always be there."

    Now as a driver instructor for Prime, Grambrell makes it his goal for his students to leave the program feeling like they are capable and ready for what this career has to offer. The job isn't easy, said Gambrell, and he's had to learn how to adapt to different personalities and communication styles with each student. The reward of seeing each of his students succeed, however, is well worth it.

    "People always ask me why I chose Prime. With Prime, my time on the road is valued. Gone are the days of wasting my time sitting at a truck stop waiting for my next load instead of running it," said Gambrell, who moved his family from Ruskin, Fla., to Nixa, Missouri, near Prime's headquarters in order to spend more time at home when he wasn't on the road. "Now, my most valued time – my time with family – is quality. For my wife and five children, Prime was the best choice we could have made."

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  • Prime Inc's Robert Low Named TCA Chairman

    Springfield, Missouri –The Truckload Carriers Association has appointed Robert Low, president and founder of Prime Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, as its new chairman. Low, who will serve for the 2012-2013 term, was sworn in Wednesday, March 7, during TCA’s Annual Convention at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida.

    Low established Prime Inc. in Urbana, Missouri, in 1970. A decade later, he moved the corporate headquarters to Springfield. What began as a one-truck operation has evolved into a leader in logistics and international refrigerated, tanker, flatbed, floral and intermodal transportation, with a fleet size of 5,700 driving associates, 4,000-plus trucks and more than 7,300 trailers.

    During his tenure with TCA, Low has served as Refrigerated Division chairman, at-large officer, secretary, second vice chair and first vice chair. He has participated in numerous committees and management panels, including the Carrier/Shipper Relations Committee, the Driver Recruitment and Retention Panel, and the Financial Oversight and Long-Range Planning Committee, among others.

    For the American Trucking Associations, Low serves as a vice president at-large and a board and executive committee member. In 2000, he received the prestigious “Missourian” award, an honor given to Missouri citizens who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of business, government, or the arts. He also sits on the board of directors of Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee.

    Low ensures that Prime Inc. is heavily involved with trucking industry projects and activities. For example, the company is participating in TCA's Trucking Weight Loss Showdown, a battle to see which TCA-member team can lose the greatest percentage of weight (both individually and collectively) in a 10-week period. Prime also was involved with Wreaths Across America, an organization that coordinates veteran services and recognition through a variety of programs and educational initiatives.

    A long-time member of the Missouri Trucking Association, Prime Inc. is an active participant in MTA’s Truck Driving Championships  and other activities. Internally, the company operates a successful charitable giving program that promotes education, health and human services, environmental and relief/development efforts and the arts, mostly for organizations located in the communities where Prime employees live and work.

    Low says that he plans to focus on the health and wellness of professional truck drivers during his year at the helm of TCA. “Statistics show that our drivers die way too young,” he said. “Smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, sleep apnea … these are severe issues that can – and should – be addressed. We want to attract the best drivers, retain them and then take care of them once they’re a part of the trucking family. TCA can provide the necessary education, resources and programs to help our members help their people.”

    The theme of improving driver health is a natural extension of the positive trucking image initiatives championed by Gary Salisbury, TCA’s immediate past chairman, and many of the chairmen before him. These efforts have included producing and airing a patriotic television commercial viewed by an estimated 2 million-plus households; promoting a rising country singer who sings several positive trucking songs; ramping up the Highway Angel program; and producing an informative biweekly segment on a national radio program.

    “I’ve been a proud participant in TCA’s many efforts to enhance the public’s image of trucking, and now I’m hoping we can reach out to drivers and potential drivers to build up their perceptions about a career in the industry,” said Low. “The mortality age of an over-the-road driver should not be less than non-drivers … it just isn’t right, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We can help drivers make better choices, exercise more, eat better and take care of themselves despite the nature of their jobs. We can make a difference for our drivers – we can help save the lifeblood of our industry.”

    The following individuals were elected to assist Low and will serve as officers until the next Annual Convention, scheduled for March 3-6, 2013, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev.:

    • First Vice Chair: Tom B. Kretsinger Jr., president and chief operating officer, American Central Transport Inc., Liberty, Missouri;
    • Second Vice Chair: Shepard Dunn, president and chief executive officer, Bestway Express Inc.,Vincennes, Indiana;
    • Treasurer: Keith Tuttle, president, Motor Carrier Service Inc., Northwood, Ohio;
    • Secretary: Russell Stubbs, president, FFE Transportation Services Inc., Dallas;
    • Assn. Vice President to ATA: Barry E. Pottle, president and CEO, Pottle’s Transportation Inc., Bangor, Maine;
    • Immediate Past Chair: Gary Salisbury, president and CEO, Fikes Truck Line Inc., Hope, Arkansas;
    • At-Large Officer: Daniel I. Doran, president, Ace Doran Hauling & Rigging, Cincinnati;
    • At-Large Officer: Daniel L. Oren, vice president, Dart Transit Co., Eagan, Minnesota;
    • At-Large Officer: Rob Penner, vice president, Bison Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba; and
    • At-Large Officer: Thomas Witt, president, Roehl Flatbed & Specialized, Roehl Transport, Marshfield, Wisconsin

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  • Prime Inc Opens Impressive Foodgrade Wash Rack in Decatur Indiana

    Reprinted from BULK TRANSPORTER.

    March 1, 2012 (Springfield, Missouri) – It can truly be said that Prime Inc's newest foodgrade wash rack was designed by wash workers for wash workers. Named Decatur Kleen, the new wash rack in Decatur, Indiana, commenced operations in mid-November 2011.

    A brainstorming storming session by wash rack workers at Prime Inc's other foodgrade cleaning facility (Savannah Kleen in Savannah, Georgia) launched the design and development effort for Decatur Kleen. The result is a worker-friendly state-of-the-art wash rack built for efficiency, safety, productivity, and environmental sustainability.

    “We put a lot of thought into this new wash rack,” says Chad Clay, manager of special projects for Prime Inc. “We wanted something that could deliver at least a 50-year life and had plenty of growth potential. We worked closely with our own experienced wash personnel, with our customer (Bunge North America), and Decatur city officials, who welcomed us with open arms.

    “We got great cooperation from everyone, and we were able to get this project up and running in a relatively short amount of time. We went from an RFP (request for proposal) from Bunge in mid-2010 to an operational wash rack by late 2011. We're very happy with the end result, a foodgrade wash rack that can clean up to 300 trailers a week.”

    Currently, Decatur Kleen is washing 20 to 22 tank trailers a day. A six-person cleaning crew keeps the wash rack running 20 hours a day (6 am to 2 am) six days a week and 10 hours on Saturday. The Decatur Kleen crew also includes a wastewater treatment operator and two loaders who shuttle Prime Inc tank trailers between the wash rack and the Bunge plant.

    The wash rack is kosher-upgrade certified. This means the facility is qualified to upgrade to kosher status tank trailers that have handled non-kosher products.

    Bunge Contract

    Tank cleaning was just a part of the Bunge contract with Prime Inc. Under the long-term agreement, Prime Inc's foodgrade tank division was awarded most of the edible oil shipments from Bunge's Decatur and Morristown, Indiana, and Bellevue, Ohio, plants.

    “This contract was a complete package,” Clay says. “In essence, we are managing their edible oil shipments from all three local plants. Building the wash rack was part of the deal, but Bunge also wanted truck and trailer maintenance, a driver lounge, and plenty of parking. In addition to our trailers, we clean some other tanks that are hauling loads for Bunge. However, the wash rack is not open for general commercial cleaning of foodgrade fleets.”

    Prime Inc's foodgrade tank division runs 226 tractors and 310 tank trailers, and 40 tractors and 65 tanks are based in this regional operation. The fleet operates throughout 48 US states and Canada. Edible oils account for 95% of the liquid bulk shipments, but the fleet also handles some other foodgrade liquids. Prime Inc is a diversified carrier that also hauls refrigerated, dry, and flatbed freight.

    With a multitude of food processors in the area, most of the shipments from Bunge's Decatur plant go to customers within a 300-mile radius. A majority of those loads are handled by 18 Prime Inc owner-operator drivers based at the Decatur Kleen facility. Longer hauls are handed off to Prime Inc over-the-road drivers.

    Ramp Up

    Prime Inc began ramping up after being awarded the transport contract for the Bunge Decatur plant in October 2010. Prime executives scrambled to find land on which to build the cleaning facility, and a job fair was scheduled to select local truck drivers, wash workers, truck mechanics, and operations personnel.

    By January 2011, Prime Inc's transportation capabilities were in place, a site for the facility had been found, and the facility design was ready. “We began hauling Bunge loads in June 2011, and we cleaned tanks at an existing single-bay wash rack near Bunge's Decatur plant,” Clay says.

    With the help of Decatur city officials, Prime Inc found a 14-acre plot in a brand new industrial park on the south side of Decatur. The location is slightly more than two miles from the Bunge plant.

    Approximately six acres have been developed so far for the Dacatur Kleen wash rack, and that includes an 18,000-sq-ft building and five acres of paved parking. “We have plenty of room for expansion,” Clay says.

    The facility is completely fenced for security and key cards are required for access. Plenty of outside lighting has been installed — also for security. Heated pads keep snow and ice from building up around the wash rack and maintenance bay doors.

    From the very start, the Decatur Kleen building was envisioned with pre-cast concrete walls. “We wanted a building that would be durable and last for decades,” Clay says. “We see pre-cast concrete as a much superior building method to the steel building construction used by many wash racks.”

    Improved Layout

    The design and layout of the building is based on Prime Inc's Savannah Kleen location, and the staff at Savannah Kleen contributed plenty of input to the Decatur Kleen project. “We got all of the Savannah Kleen workers together for a brainstorming session on the Decatur Kleen plans,” says Miranda McCorkel, who was facility manager of Savannah Kleen at the time and now runs Decatur Kleen. “We suggested changes and improvements based on our experiences at Savannah Kleen. For instance, workers suggested electric hoists for spinners and electrically powered spinners with variable-speed controls.”

    Workers also recommended wider wash bays with plenty of working room and plenty of lighting. For safety, they suggested a stoplight system to indicate when a work platform has been lowered onto the tank trailer manway. The stop light stays red as long as the work platform is down, and the light doesn't change to green until the platform is raised.

    The end result of the preplanning provides a safe and comfortable work environment, according to McCorkel. “This is all part of our effort to set the industry standard for foodgrade cleaning with Decatur Kleen,” she says.

    The two wash bays are 105 feet long and total wash bay width is 45 feet. The ceiling is 24 feet high. Between the wash bays is a work platform and stainless steel tank hardware cleaning station, all supplied by The Peacock Company Inc.

    Positioned over the rear work area are radiant heaters for worker comfort. Additionally, the concrete floor contains a radiant heating system to keep workers warm during cold days and melt and snow and ice that may be brought in. The floor is topped with a urethane coating and slip-resistant texturing for safety and durability.

    Wash System

    Tank cleaning is done with Peacock's single-pass, high-pressure, low-volume cleaning equipment, and initial planning called for a single wash unit. “We started with a single-pass system at Savannah Kleen, and it has done a great job for us,” Clay says. “We would never do food cleaning with anything but a single-pass wash system, primarily because there is zero risk of prior product cross contamination.”

    McCorkel adds that one wash unit quickly became two. “We realized right away that we would need to units to deliver the level of service our customer expected,” she says. “That is the only way we can clean tanks simultaneously in both bays and avoid maintenance-related shutdowns.”

    Decatur Kleen bought two of the largest wash machines offered by Peacock. One is the Model 660, which is the largest in the Peacock line, and the other is the Model 636, which is the next to the largest. Decatur Kleen also has two Model 7156 pressure washer units that serve both the tank cleaning bays and the truck maintenance shop.

    The Peacock tank wash machines were specified with stainless steel heating coils for long life and cleanliness. Both units have one-micron filters on the discharge side to remove any residual particles in the water before they reach the trailers being cleaned. These filter elements are replaced daily.

    Both of the tank wash units produce 200°F water for cleaning at 22 gallons per minute and 600 psi. The pressure washer units supply 180°F water at five gallons per minute and 1,800 psi.

    Controlled Process

    All edible oil tank trailers are washed for 25 minutes minimum with 200°F-plus water. While tanks are washed, workers disassemble pumps, hoses, and other product-handling hardware for cleaning, sanitizing, and inspection.

    The tank cleaning process is set automatically with programmable logic controllers. Every wash is monitored by computer, and the data is downloaded to a flash drive. Every wash ticket is archived electronically.

    Heels and wastewater are carefully controlled throughout the cleaning process. Waste management is very much a part of Prime Inc's environmental sustainability program — entitled “Go Prime-Go Green!”

    Key highlights of the program at Decatur Kleen include extensive employee education on environmental management and sustainability, high-pressure/low-volume cleaning to minimize water usage, energy recovery in water streams, product residuals recycled back into the energy chain, high-efficiency lighting and motor systems, material recycling (paper and aluminum cans), and low-water-use sanitary facilities.

    “In tank cleaning, this starts with getting every bit of product out of the trailers,” says Michael Boyer with Agribusiness & Water Technology Inc, the company that designed the wastewater treatment system for Decatur Kleen. “Anything that goes into the water has to be removed by the wastewater treatment system.”

    This means tanks transporting viscous cargoes such as palm oil sometimes must be scraped clean before being washed. In fact, Decatur Kleen wash workers must manually scrape oil products from about one in 10 trailers prior to washing them.

    Edible oils also are captured during the cleaning process by a skimmer and separator in the wash bays. The oil goes to two recovered oil tanks and is recycled back into the energy chain.

    Water Management

    Water used in tank cleaning also is carefully managed throughout the process. In-bound city water goes to a 7,500-gallon holding tank and is warmed about 30 degrees by a passive heat exchanger before being sent to the Peacock wash units. The heat comes from equalized wash water that is being sent through the waste treatment process.

    “This is essentially free heat that helps lower energy costs for the wash rack,” Boyer says. “We're using a simple plate-and-frame heat exchanger, and it will pay for itself in about a year and a half.”

    Wash water from the cleaning process is drained from tank trailers into a sump in the floor of the wash rack. Edible oil residues are removed, and the water is sent to an equalization tank outside the wash rack.

    “Equalization is important, because we need a consistent waste stream for effective treatment,” Boyer says. “The system is sized to treat 50,000 gallons of wastewater a day, and we are handling 12,000 to 14,000 gallons a day right now.”

    Equalized wastewater flows back into the building into two agitation tanks, where pH is adjusted and coagulants are added to capture solids and any oil residue. The next stop is a dissolved air floatation (DAF) unit.

    “We've used DAF successfully for many years at many wash racks and food processors,” Boyer says. “It is a very good and reliable treatment system.”

    The last step in the process is biological treatment, which takes place in two sequential biological reactor tanks outside the building. Air for the biological treatment process comes from two large Tuthill blowers. Treated water is then sampled and released into the city sewer.

    With all of its features, Prime Inc management believes the new Decatur Kleen wash rack raises the industry standard for foodgrade tank cleaning. It's a standard that will be repeated and continuously enhanced as Prime Inc opens additional wash racks under what it is calling the “Kleen Team” banner.

  • Prime Inc. Honors 2011 Contractors of the Year

    Springfield, Missouri – Prime Inc. recently named its 2011 Contractor of the Year award recipients. This annual award is given to the best drivers in each division for displaying the highest level of service, professionalism, productivity and safety practices. Winners are hand-picked from among each department’s recipients of Prime’s Contractor of the Month awards for the previous year, based on their dedication to safety and several other factors, including mileage, on-time deliveries, driving record, fuel consumption, productivity and customer service.

    “Prime’s 2011 Contractors of the Year are some of the top drivers in the industry and a clear example of the hard work and commitment to safety Prime is known for,” said Stan Auman, Prime Inc. dispatch manager in the refrigerated division. “These drivers are why Prime enjoys continued success.”

    The following individuals were recognized with Prime’s 2011 Contractor of the Year awards:

    • Refrigerated Division: Independent Team Contractors James Burrow and Jeff Johnson; Independent Contractor Edgard Lopez; and Company Team Drivers Shane and Johnna Morgan.
    • Flatbed Division: Independent Team Contractors Samuel Gonzales and Michelle Melendez and Company Team Drivers Todd and Virginia Newcomb.
    • Tanker Division: Independent Contractor Clinton L. Brown and Company Driver Andre J. Bryan.

    “It is an honor to recognize these drivers as part of the Prime family,” said Auman. “We thank them for their commitment to on-time delivery, fuel efficiency and safety, as well as customer service.”

    Each 2011 Contractor of the Year receives a personalized achievement plaque on permanent display in Prime’s Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo. They also each receive a free Prime jacket, $1,000 cash and a gift certificate for the Prime store.

    Congratulations to Prime’s 2011 Contractors of the Year.  For more information on Prime’s services or career opportunities, call 1-877-PRIME-JOB.

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