Freight transportation company TransLand of Springfield, Missouri provides full truckload, long haul, short haul, and logistics services using dry van and flatbed trailers. The company is capable of delivering those services throughout the continental United States, although it primarily focuses on the Midwest.
TransLand was founded in 1982 by Glen and Anna Walker with one truck and two drivers. Glen had previously been working for the trucking arm of a railroad, at a time when railroads were consolidating and decided it was time for a change. The small family company was soon joined by one of the Walkers’ sons and began to grow rapidly. Today, it has expanded to 170 trucks, 230 employees, and two satellite offices located in St. Louis, Missouri and Dallas, Texas to serve customers in those areas better.
In April 2013, the company welcomed another Walker son, Mark to the team. Mark, as the chairman and chief executive officer, has focused on being a force for service quality using performance metrics. Unlike the rest of his family, Mark did not come from the trucking industry. From his previous experience, he is knowledgeable about organizational development and building and fully-empowering high-performance teams.
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has highlighted TransLand as a best practice group using the benchmarks of the TCA profitability program, and for over fourteen years, TransLand has worked with Captive Insurance Group to help manage its liability and workers’ compensation programs. Captive Insurance Group provides customized and innovative risk management solutions, and TransLand considers the partnership to be a major asset. In the last two years, TransLand has also been a finalist in the ‘Best Fleets to Drive For’ annual competition with the TCA. In 2019, TransLand was named a “Top 5 Fleet to Watch” by the competition.
The company has a philosophy of continuous learning to adapt to a changing industry. In recent times, it has become essential for a company in the trucking industry to differentiate itself to attract employees from the shrinking pool of labor, and TransLand has found an assortment of ways to accomplish this task.
“Driver turnover ratios are really challenging lately, and driver availability has created a shortage nationwide. The ability to grow a business is fully dependent on the ability to attract and retain drivers,” says Mark. The diminishing workforce is particularly difficult for asset-based carriers like TransLand that do not depend on brokering. “Building the right culture and creating a place that people want to work has become paramount to our ability to be successful. Moving freight is easy. Retaining people is hard.”
One of the tactics being used by TransLand to overcome the labor shortage is getting more involved with available training programs and providing those tools to people looking to transition into a new career of truck driving. The company is receptive to training newcomers to the industry where many other companies require potential employees to have experience. “We will provide that training and work with folks to build their driving skills so that’s opened way we work to curb that labor challenge. We think that has good long-term potential,” says Mark.
TransLand is not industry specific; it moves a variety of products such as consumer goods, paper products, specialty packaging, and manufacturing materials. The company often forms long-lasting partnerships with its customers like the French’s brand of mustard, which has a manufacturing plant located in Springfield and has been a customer of TransLand for many years.
The company is always looking for the newest technology that can improve its truck performance and has been a SmartWay partner for over a decade. This EPA program gives incentives to lower transportation-related vehicle emissions. TransLand is also looking forward to the opportunity to introduce aerodynamic features to improve the efficiency of its trucks and stay competitive in the marketplace.
“We invest pretty heavily in new technologies that allow us to get better fuel performance and make our trucks more driver-friendly,” says Mark. “We’ve improved our fuel performance over the last five years by one mile per gallon, and we’re up over 7.5 miles per gallon as a fleet on average.” Every little bit of improvement makes a difference in the trucking industry by driving down costs and reducing emissions.
TransLand aims to be a superior transportation company providing the best service in an environmentally conscious way. The core values put in place by the founders are the reason its employee and customer relationships remain strong. These are also considered when examining its customer portfolio, as there is occasionally a decision will be made to go separate ways rather than putting the company or employees at risk.
The company works hard to remind employees of the importance of safety. Last year, it launched an initiative with a consulting company based in Washington, D.C. called HumanProof that used predictive analytics regarding safety. HumanProof entered the TransLand facility to do surveys about the safety practices and policies and the general safety climate. The results were positive for TransLand and showed small areas where there is room to grow.
“The key is putting a strong safety leadership mechanism in place and building a strong safety climate even when your safety scores are some of the best in the industry; you can’t just sit back and rest on your laurels,” says Mark.
Community engagement is an area that TransLand has been strongly passionate about since the company was formed. In 1992, it was honored to be recognized as the Springfield Chamber of Commerce ‘Small Business of the Year’ which came with some additional opportunities. The founders got involved in specific organizations they felt were important, and the company has continued that tradition ever since.
One of these efforts dedicated a truck that was painted pink to raise money for cancer charity. The ‘Miles for Hope’ pink truck was launched in 2012, and every mile the truck drives generates five cents for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks which receives approximately $6,000 a year. The truck has raised well over $50,000 in total.
TransLand enjoyed the process immensely and decided to launch a second truck in 2018 for a local education nonprofit organization that helps students with health, hunger, and hygiene needs called Care to Learn. The new, Mack Anthem truck is painted a neon green color, and similarly to the pink truck, it gives visibility and it raises money for an organization about which TransLand truly cares.
“Employees care about their community, and they want the company they work for to care about the community, and again, that’s one of those hallmarks of being a great place to work –doing things that your employees care deeply about and want to be involved in,” says Mark. The drivers at TransLand compete to see who gets to drive the truck of the charitable fleet.
It is important to TransLand to arrive at a destination on time and with the correct materials. This, more than any other factor, wins a company business because it builds a reputation of trust and respect. “What we feel the best about is that our customers keep asking us to do more for them and they ask us to do the tough jobs for them with their most difficult customers because they know they can depend on us, and we think that’s what sets us apart,” says Mark.