Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Your name and your logo are a little
unusual in the trucking business. Tell me how you came up with that
A: You can say that again.
Although I was born into a trucking family, I left the family
business to pursue my passion, which was taking pictures. I
specialized in taking school pictures and I named my business
Pollywog Photography. It was something fun, entertaining and could
make a kid smile. When I got back into trucking, the name Pollywog
With all the trucking companies competing for
freight, I found Pollywog to be memorable. That's not always good if
you screw up. But we have earned a reputation for delivering
exceptional customer service, for honesty, for integrity and for
reliability. So the frog stands out and that's a good thing. Some of
my customers even have fun with the name, saying we haven't seen any
of your Polly-wagons around here! Or what's going on over in the
pond. We like to say that the name keeps us at least one leap ahead
of the competition.
Q: How do you compare owning your own
photography company and owning your own trucking company?
A: I think it's important to
recognize that regardless of what business you are running, we're
all in the people business. That means we must have intimate
knowledge of our customers. In the photography business that meant
bringing a little frog along to get the kids to smile. I've
continued to use that image to delight my customers to this date. It
also means valuing your relationships, watching your costs and
keeping your word. Do these things and you can sit back at the end
of the day and take pride in your accomplishments. Believe it or
not, I've even used my photographic background in this job. I had a
shipper that was not packing his product well. Not only were the
trailers a mess to look at, it forced the receiver to spend more
time in the unloading process and there was more product damage. I
photographed his unit and one that was well packed and asked him
which one he would like to work on. It didn't take him long to
improve his packing.
Q: You grew up in a trucking family.
What did that teach you?
A: Trucking is who I am. My
father and family exposed me to all aspects of the business. I
started in the secretarial pool and worked as a grease monkey, a
tire changer, a mechanic, a driver and office operations. To succeed
in trucking you must help your customers solve problems. It's an
action orientation that rewards those that keep their word.
Q: You grew up in a regulated
environment. When you returned to trucking it had been totally
deregulated. What's the main difference?
A: It's funny because I was
always the one in the company, even as a young kid, that questioned
the validity of these regulations. I wanted to do things for the
customer but the government wouldn't let us do them and my uncles
weren't as progressive as I was. I'd probably still be in
photography had the trucking business not been deregulated. I don't
want the government, or anybody else for that matter, interfering
with the relationship I've established with my customers.
Q: Trucking has an image problem. How
do you combat that?
A: I think we need to begin to
let the drivers know how important they are. I often tell the story
to my drivers in orientation that they are at the bottom of the food
chain. I draw a picture of the shipper on the top that calls the
trucking company to deliver its freight. The trucking company then
calls the driver to deliver the goods. So the driver is at the
bottom of the food chain. At least that's how many people think and
act. But I turn the picture upside down and show the drivers that
they really are on top. Because as a consumer, they each pick the
stores they want to do business with. Without the driver and the
rest of us shopping at their stores, the shipper has no customers
and nothing to ship. We can't forget that.
Q: What are your guiding principles,
those attributes that have made you a success in this business?
A: I believe in the Golden Rule.
I always try to treat customers, associates and shareholders the way
I would want to be treated. In fact, we take it one step further: I
try to treat others the way they want to be treated. Part of that is
keeping my word and doing what I say I'm going to do. I also have
been around long enough to know that I have to be profitable and
debt free. I pride myself in controlling our costs, avoiding the
temptation to spend precious resources in a frivolous manner. And
finally, we deliver uncompromised customer service. Transportation
essentially is about solving problems and I want to make sure that
we solve our customers' problems. If that means I have to run a
load, I will jump behind the wheel and get it delivered.
Q: What would your customers say
A: That we keep our word and
that we make them more successful. If I misquote a price, I'll honor
my commitment. If I see freight that has been loaded improperly,
I'll work with my shippers to improve that.
Q: Tell me about a business mistake
that you made and what
you learned from that.
A: Sometimes you run a business
and you don't know something is missing. We had one of our drivers
that died suddenly. He was a young guy that had just finished a run
and gone home where he collapsed. We realized that he wasn't
participating in our life insurance program. Now everybody that
comes to work for Pollywog has a minimum of $25,000 in life
insurance. We value our employees by offering them many of the same
benefits as a Fortune 500 company, primarily because we haul for so
many of them.
Q: How do you get new customers?
A: We get many of our customers
by word of mouth or from relationships that we formed many years
Q: Describe your equipment
A: We have 50 power units,
primarily Freightliners, and some 90 trailers - primarily reefers
but an increased number of flatbeds and dry vans as a result of our
recent acquisition of Cline Trucking assets in Garrett, Indiana.
I buy both new and used trailers. My philosophy
is that new tractors take a year and about 100,000 miles to break in
and the best value comes in years two and three. When we buy a new
unit, they typically spend more time in the shop with warranty work.
Because I spent so much time in the shop myself, I realize this is
where we can ensure our commitment to reliable performance. We
measure the maintenance expenses on each power unit. We have no
fixed trade cycle strategy measured on years or mileage. Any time
that cost exceeds 15 cents per mile, it's time to rotate that unit
Q: Describe your commitment to
A: We have always believed that
to deliver on our commitments we need to always look for new and
innovative methods. As a result, we were one of the early advocates
of mobile communications technology. We equipped all of our units
with PeopleNet's on-board system six years ago. We thought it was
important to know where our assets were and to provide our customers
with that enhanced visibility. We've automated much of our
dispatching which has dramatically improved our driver productivity.
By automating our fuel tax compliance, we've also been able to
recover the salary of one person that was solely responsible for
performing those functions.
Copyright © 2005 Pollywog Transport, Inc.