These are uncertain times for everyone, but even more so for professional truck drivers, even if they have been determined to be among this country’s “essential” workers.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the personal, societal, and economic changes it has brought are amplified for truckers. They must drive through and to parts of the country where COVID-19 is spiking again, struggle to find hot meals others take for granted, and often find it difficult just to locate a safe place to park when done driving. And, besides, they’re on the road when so many other Americans are now working from home.
So, the last thing a trucker needs is to also worry about how much money they can expect to have each pay period. K & B Transportation brings certainty to that important aspect of their drivers’ lives. Not only does the Nebraska-based refrigerated carrier give drivers a guaranteed number of miles each week, but it’s also raising what it pays for those miles at the end of this month.
Sean Barragan is the director of recruiting for the 775-truck carrier based in South Sioux City, Nebraska. He says delivering certainty to drivers these days is one of the things that sets K & B Transportation apart from other fleets.
K & B’s pay package is highlighted by a guarantee of 2,500 miles each week, which translates to $1,350 per week at a minimum. Barragan said this acknowledges that driving over-the-road can be unpredictable because of weather conditions, traffic congestion, breakdowns, or getting hung up at a shipper. He said K & B’s mileage guarantee is meant to make it so drivers don’t have to fret over how such things will cut into their pay, maybe keep them from paying their bills.
“We’re just saying, if you’re on the road Monday noon to Monday noon and have a bad week, hey, you know what, we’re going to make up the difference,” said Barragan. “You’re trading your time for money and we didn’t give you the money that you should have that week. And so that’s what we’re going to do to make up the difference.”
In addition, at the end of this month, K & B is increasing driver pay by 4 cents per mile across the board. That means a new driver with at least six months of experience begins at 54 cpm, up from 50 cpm. The top of the pay scale will go from 54 cpm to 58 cpm.
The company also offers a variety of accessory pay and bonuses tied to safety, referrals, and clean inspections.
But, it’s more than just the numbers on drivers’ pay stubs that helps attract drivers to K & B and keep them there, according to Barragan. He said the company also wants truckers to have peace of mind when it comes to having the home time they want and need, the benefits they count on, and even the equipment they drive.
K & B drivers can choose what sort of driving they wish to do. The company offers over-the-road either strictly in the Midwest or nationally. K&B also has salaried dedicated driving opportunities in the upper Midwest. Salaries for these dedicated positions are also increasing at the end of the month. The company also has fleets that ensure drivers are home on the weekend while driving primarily in the upper Midwest.
Barragan said the company believes its drivers do better when they don’t have to worry about the condition of the trucks they drive and have some added creature comforts while on the road.
Barragan said K & B’s Fleet is comprised of newer Freightliner Cascadias with Detroit DD 13 engines, mostly DT 12 automatics, ThermoKing and Carrier APUs, Bluetooth radios, Cobra 29 CBs, refrigerators, 2,000-watt power inverters, Omnitracs, and driver-assist technologies.
But, Barragan said K & B’s approach to attracting and retaining drivers goes beyond big concerns like pay and benefits, home time, and access to reliable equipment.
“I like to tell people our dedication to the drivers starts off from day one,” said Barragan.
That plays out by K & B flying new drivers to orientation, whereas many other companies will put them on a bus. The difference between five hours by air versus 18 hours on a bus says a lot to that driver, said Barragan. And, once they get to orientation, they have a single hotel room.
“And we have personalized orientation and personalized dispatch,” said Barragan. “We look at you as a person and not just as a driver.”
But, there’s more, and it’s something pretty fundamental.
“First and foremost, what we tell you is going to be true,” said Barragan, who said he stays in touch with drivers long after they have been recruited, gone through orientation, and get seated in a truck. “We’re going to tell them the truth. We’re not going to mislead them. We pay what we say, we do what we say we will do. And that’s the reality working for K & B.”