Always critical in our nation’s economic engine, the role of transportation companies and their teams of truck drivers were elevated to an even higher profile during this ongoing pandemic. Often becoming the only link between goods and the frontline, they were pressed to deliver supplies. We checked in with Jared Collier, VP of Aim Transport to learn how he’s steering the company to a safe and strong place.
Freight Orders Forecast Pandemic Impact
Rhodesdale-based Aim Transport began operations in 1990. A dry and refrigerated transportation company, the privately-owned business delivers food and foodservice products to customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
Vice President Jared Collier first sensed Covid-19 ‘was not going to blow over quickly’ when he noticed significant freight changes in early March.
“We have customers who service both schools and restaurants and we were seeing historically low order volume. We also saw a noticeable increase of loads with paper products like toilet paper.”
While increases in some areas helped offset decreases in others, it was clear that the Coronavirus was disrupting the nation’s supply and service chain. And it was also impacting Aim’s bottom line.
“We deal primarily with contract rates. As a result, while volumes can change, prices stay the same,” Collier explained. “The spot market rates were seeing record low pricing well below the base operating expenses incurred to run a truck.”
Safety and Health Drive Operations
As companies throughout Dorchester have done, Aim Transport implemented many safety measures to protect employees, visitors and customers.
“We disinfect office areas daily and keep doors and windows closed between office personnel and anyone else. We also communicate by phone more than ever, even between employees at same location to limit to face to face conversations.”
A core staff continued to work on site with others working remotely where feasible. They provide training and ongoing updates for all employees on CDC and State guidelines and best practices for the transportation industry.
“We regularly clean and disinfect our trucks here and on the road. There’s sanitizer in every vehicle’s side door pocket for drivers to use each time they step in.”
To limit the number of times mechanics enter truck cabs, Aim changed inspection procedures to have drivers remain pull their trucks into the shop. If someone other than the assigned driver enters, they use gloves and sanitize door handle and surfaces.
Road to Recovery
After almost three months, Aim is seeing increases in some customer supply needs which is resulting in an uptick in business. While not back to pre-Covid levels, Jared believes the trend lines are heading in the right direction.
To help meet increased delivery needs, he is actively seeking CDL drivers with two years tractor-trailer experience to service the Mid-Atlantic.
Collier looks for employees who embrace Aim’s PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Delivery Excellence) commitment for outstanding service and their mission to be leader in corporate responsibility practices.
Jared considers Aim Transport to be very fortunate to have a team committed to those values.
“Even in down times, we had some business to keep us operating. As a result we’ve provided refrigerated trailers and transportation services to those less fortunate including local community organizations, food pantries and church assistance programs.”
The Road Ahead
Collier also considers how the coronavirus has impacted his business leadership.
“While you can’t prepare for everything, the more you do have contingency or business emergency plan will pay dividends in protecting your company and employees in any type of future disaster.”
Collier cautions businesses to avoid being loaded with too much debt as emergencies like the coronavirus can be detrimental to the company’s survival.
As Jared considers how Dorchester’s rural location has been an advantage for Aims, he points to the close community where everyone knows everyone, and you have great opportunities to network and develop personal and professional relationships thanks to only one or two levels of separation.
“The challenge is that you don’t have a large population to pull from when hiring. All local rural businesses are looking in the same pool of potential help when can be challenging at any time.”