William Swisher of A Plus Expediting Gives Expedite Now a Look Behind the Scenes
Q: Tell us about yourself. How long have you been with A Plus?
I can tell you one thing for sure, this is the last place I expected to be! I came here from a long history in automotive/manufacturing and I’ve worked in the plastics, aerospace, and abrasives industries. I thought I would work in manufacturing my entire career. I used to be the guy that called companies like ours saying stuff like “I don’t care how much it costs, I have to have this material on my floor by 9AM tomorrow!” And now I’m the guy that does exactly that for a large number of customers. I’ve been with A Plus almost 8 years now. I have worked in every department, and held every position and title there is at the company. Which has culminated in my current role as the Operations Manager for A Plus.
Q: Please give us a little history about A Plus.
The owner, Billy Back, founded the company in 2008 after having spent 12 years in the industry as a dispatcher. We started off very small too. There were only six of us in an office space that would fit in most any other business’s conference room. My first desk here was a kitchen table! A Plus has had its share of struggle and strife along the way. We almost went out business in 2009 after landing a contract with a very large volume customer. Their business more than doubled what we were doing locally at the time, and that doubled driver payroll, which almost put us under. We have come a long way since then though. I am proud to say that even though we have had some very hard times, we have done nothing but continue to grow. While many other companies were closing and/or laying people off, we were (slowly) adding employees and drivers to our ranks. We have two facilities now, that between the two equate to almost 100,000 square feet. We have 30 full time employees now, and more drivers than we have ever had before.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes (or challenges) for drivers and carriers you’ve seen in recent years?
I would have to say fuel costs and HOS regulation changes. Between those two, I’ve seen a lot of drivers “downsize” from HOS regulated equipment to smaller equipment like Sprinters or cargo vans. Some of these drivers have just left the industry entirely for one of the two aforementioned reasons. That has made the demand much higher for straight trucks and tractors, and good drivers a lot harder to come by.
Q: What kind of drivers and equipment is A Plus wanting to partner with?
The same thing everyone else is looking for, experienced and reliable drivers! As for equipment, A Plus is really wanting to get more straight trucks and tractors into our fleet. We have a large demand for this equipment from our customers and we just can’t accommodate all their work!
Q: Driver retention is very difficult in 2015. What kind of efforts is A Plus doing to improve driver retention?
A Plus does offer some, what I would call “perks”, that others do not in an effort to get and keep drivers. We reimburse 100% of tolls, offer free Transflo, and even offer hotel discounts and reimbursements to drivers that are exclusive with us. Another thing, we do NOT do, is charge for tracking devices. We utilize current technology, using a free smart phone app that tracks our driver’s location and also allows them to report detailed load information via the same app.
Q: Why do owner operators and drivers want to be part of A Plus?
We have a mindset of “the driver comes first”. Without drivers, none of us would be here! It shows in our dispatch, and in the familiarity we develop with our drivers. That, and our entire fleet is comprised of owner operators, so drivers will never compete with “our trucks” getting loaded first.
Q: We are into the 4th Quarter of 2015. What kind of freight volumes do you expect for the remainder of the year?
While A Plus continues to see growth in volume, I could not solidly predict anything for the industry as a whole. Based off historical information and my experience, volume should continue to increase through the end of November. After November, the volume always seems to diminish quite a bit (around the Holidays). But again this is just based off what I have seen here at A Plus.
Q: Can you recall any recent situations where a A Plus driver “saved the day” for your customer?
Actually, yes. I have a dedicated customer that gives me all their local work, OTR work, FTL work, and even all their warehousing work. That customer gave me a hot expedite to GM Baltimore that was to pick up in the afternoon and deliver the next morning. My driver picked up this load on time but then had his truck break down THREE different times on the way there! The first truck broke down, he got a substitute truck. That substitute broke down, he got into another substitute truck. The third truck broke down, and was ultimately towed to the consignee. This driver had to transfer 8,000 pounds of freight from truck to truck each time. And when he was towed to the consignee, they would not unload him due to it being hooked to a tow truck, so this driver hand unloaded all 8,000lbs! His tenacity and dedication prevented a production plant shutdown, and both myself and my customer were very grateful!
Q: What industry organizations is A Plus affiliated with?
Not too many. We are a member of T.E.A.N.A., the Ohio Trucking Association, and we’re Smartway certified. Then there’s my ongoing relationship with ExpeditersOnline.com too of course!
Q: What’s on the horizon for A Plus?
Continuing our efforts to grow as a company. We’ve just brought on what I hope to be the first of many tractor/trailers, whereas our fleet has previously consisted entirely of cargo vans, Sprinters, and small/large straight trucks. And that unit is already completely booked with our local customers clamoring for its use daily, some even trying to steal it from one another!
Q: Reds or Indians? And Bengals or Browns?
I’ll have to “plead the fifth” on that one sir.
Q: You’re located in Dayton, OH. What’s something you would recommend a driver check out if laid over in Dayton?
I’d recommend three varying things. The Dayton Dragons baseball for drivers that enjoy sports, the Dayton Art Institute for intellectual ones, and Scene 75 if you’re just looking to have fun! Scene 75 has all sorts of fun activities including arcade games, go carts, restaurants, and much more. Although I have my own go cart to play with here in the warehouse, I still can’t resist racing against my son and others on their track!
Q: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Yes, sure. Come check out A Plus! You won’t be disappointed you did!
For more information Click A Plus Expediting or call 888.896.1844