After a 15-year marriage with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the Best Fleets to Drive For program is striking out as a standalone program that hopes to broaden participation and increase its educational outreach.
The program, run by online training firm CarriersEdge, and TCA mutually agreed to end their affiliation at the end of their contract this year. Under the terms of their previous arrangement, CarriersEdge ran the program and TCA promoted it, with awards doled out at the TCA’s annual convention.
While the partnership was beneficial, founder Mark Murrell said the arrangement limited the program’s growth.
“It wasn’t appropriate for us to do too much direct promotion of the program,” he said in an interview with TruckNews.com. “There were certain things we really couldn’t do. We now have more opportunities to promote the program and share the information beyond what we were able to do before.”
Over the years, Murrell said the perception was the Best Fleets program was only open to truckload fleets. But LTL, tanker, and in some cases even private fleets (if incorporated and run separately from the parent company) can take part. Program administrators hope to increase awareness of that and to expand the program accordingly.
“One of the things we realized is, when you work with an association, the perception is that the program is only for that association segment,” said Murrell. “We really want to expand that, and get a broader perspective on what is happening in the industry. It needs to be the Best Fleets to Drive For, not the Best Truckload Fleets to Drive For. We’ve had some participation from other segments, but not as much as we’d like. We want to get a broader cross-section of the industry participating.”
“Very little about the Best Fleets program will be changing.”
Mark Murrell, Best Fleets to Drive For
Plans are already underway to present the awards at what will be an education-intensive but short conference beginning next year. Murrell wants participating fleets to know the program itself and its standards won’t change; it will continue to maintain a high level of scrutiny.
“In short, very little about the Best Fleets program will be changing,” Murrell said in a letter to participating fleets. “Since its launch 15 years ago, Best Fleets to Drive For has become the premier workplace evaluation program in the trucking industry. The evaluation is rigorous and thorough, and making it to the Top 20 is even harder. We have no plans to change any of that.”
That followed an email to TCA members in which TCA president Jim Ward announced: “Over the past two years, we have engaged in discussions with CarriersEdge regarding the determination of winners and our desire for more involvement in and understanding of the selection process. While we were unable to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, we have made the decision to conclude our partnership and move forward in a different direction once our contract expires this year.”
One of the crucial elements of Best Fleets that Murrell said will continue, and even expand, is sharing of the best practices revealed through the selection process.
“We are looking forward to having more ability to share all the information we get [through the selection process],” said Murrell. “There is so much information we collect and we look forward to being able to do something broader with that and to share that information on a more detailed level.”
He added the program doesn’t divulge any information participating fleets opt not to share, and that private information is heavily protected.
Murrell notes the program has grown to be a major undertaking, requiring about six full-time employees for about 10 weeks of the year. The resources dedicated to the program will be maintained, he assured. The Best Fleets to Drive For program will continue on its usual schedule, with nominations opening after Labor Day. More information about the 2024 awards presentations and conference will be released in the coming weeks.
“The program is going to continue and all the things people are used to will continue as they have,” said Murrell. “We are also going to look at expanding it in ways we couldn’t reasonably do when we were working with an association.”
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