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.
Posted on February 8, 2013
by Edwin Davidson