Productivity is about employing the right people as much as it is spec’ing the right equipment. Without a driver to haul freight, a trailer is just that – a trailer. But in the hands of a motivated driver who takes pride in his or her work, a trailer is the engine of profitability. That’s why Fortune Transportation has focused on the driver, treating each one as a valued client, since its inception in 1980. Now in its second generation of family ownership after Don Olson passed the baton to Perry and Ben Olson, Fortune continues its driver-focused tradition.
“Happy drivers deliver more freight, good drivers do it correctly, and engaged drivers strive to learn and improve everyday they are on the road,” said Perry Olson, chief executive officer and partner owner of Fortune Transportation. “Everyone else in our company recognizes that they are here to support those folks on the road every day. Whether doing payroll, maintaining equipment or cleaning facilities, everyone is here to support our drivers.”
That shines through when looking at Fortune’s driver roster, which boasts 90 drivers with more than one million miles driven for the company. Two drivers have driven more than four million miles with Fortune. The entire fleet runs 22 million miles a year. Spec’ing and maintaining high-quality equipment plays a large role in keeping Fortune Transportation’s drivers happy.
“Drivers come to us because they see our equipment on the road and they are attracted to great equipment that’s well-maintained,” Olson said. “It presents an image of how Fortune will take care of not only the driver’s equipment, but also of drivers as human beings. And we also get phone calls from clients who see our equipment and are impressed with how they are maintained, and that nets us more business.”
When it comes to its trailers, Fortune Transportation has forged a longstanding relationship with Great Dane thanks to Great Dane’s durable, dependable trailer lineup.
“We’ve been buying trailers from Great Dane for decades. It’s a great product,” said Curt Langstraat, Fortune Transportation maintenance director. “In 13 years, I don’t recall a warranty claim on a Great Dane box. If we are repairing a trailer, it’s probably because of an accident—it’s not the fault of the equipment. Great Dane has a great service network, but if it ain’t broke, there’s no reason to fix it.”
On the business side, Olson related that shippers are “beyond picky,” demanding Fortune delivers a high-quality product with high-quality equipment, which is no small task in Fortune’s food and beverage application. Fortune turns to Great Dane’s Everest Single-Temp to help meet those demands.
“When a client opens up our trailer doors at a dock and they see ‘Fortune’ written on the inside of the trailer,” Olson said, “we’ll have a 98 percent acceptance rate at places that have a greater than 50 percent denial rate of equipment because they know that when they shut the Great Dane they aren’t going to see light through those seals. Those seals are solid.”
Fortune Transportation fields a fleet of 53-foot Everest Single-Temp trailers, featuring aluminum wheels and stainless steel rear impact guards to reduce trailer weight. To improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance costs, Fortune uses Hendrickson’s ULTRAA-K suspension with MAXX22T air disc brakes, TIREMAAX PRO tire inflation/deflation system and the HXL5 Ready-to-Roll wheel end system.
Fortune’s focus on excellence earned them ATA’s President’s Award for safety, one of ATA’s highest honors.
So what specific practices helped Fortune Transportation reach that level of recognition? “I’ve asked that same question to a couple of our guys and it’s always the same answer: ‘All of them,’” Fortune Transportation’s Safety Directory Tony Scott said with a smile. “It’s about building a safety culture, staying consistent with your message and the actions you take to support that message.”
“It all comes back to who we hire,” Olson said. “Then, laying the foundation of safe, smart decision-making during our orientation process. Those lessons are followed up with regular training and message reinforcement. The Presidential award is a reflection of our drivers’ habits and allowing our operations personnel to make the right decision even if it is not the profitable decision. We learn from our decisions and strive to constantly improve.”