2019 Recap: Highlighting the best of ‘Fuller Speed Ahead’

On the set of "Fuller Speed Ahead" at FreightWavesLIVE in Chicago, Illinois on November 12-13.

FreightWavesTV experienced outstanding growth in 2019. In addition to adding several new shows and podcasts, the world’s largest news and market analytics source dedicated to freight celebrated the launch of its FreightWavesTV streaming app for mobile, tablet and at-home TV entertainment devices.

One of the platform’s newest and most popular programs is “Fuller Speed Ahead.” Hosted by Craig Fuller, the FreightWaves CEO provides exclusive interviews with prominent and intriguing figures from around the world of freight. The show provides firsthand opinions and commentary by highlighting the topics most pertinent to the guests’ companies.

“Fuller Speed Ahead” episodes are available on FreightWavesTV and YouTube and via podcast on the FreightCasts channel on Spotify, iTunes and Simplecast.

As 2019 comes to a close, we look back at some of our favorite interviews of the year.

Max Fuller, co-founder and executive chairman of U.S. Xpress

FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller sat down with his father, U.S. Xpress co-founder Max Fuller, to discuss his family’s prominent trucking lineage.

Under Max Fuller’s leadership, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress has seen great success operating in the heart of “Freight Alley.” Beginning with just 48 trucks, U.S. Xpress has since grown to become one of the largest asset-based carriers in the United States.

“Building U.S. Xpress has been a lot of fun over the years. We were able to take technology ahead of most people in the industry and really capitalize on it. I think we as a company have really changed our industry through the years,” said Fuller.

In 2017, Max promoted son Eric Fuller to CEO of U.S. Xpress, but he remains active with the company as executive chairman. 

Dan Cushman, president and CEO of P.A.M. Tranportation Services

Upon joining P.A.M. in 2009 during the early stages of recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, Cushman established a plan to diversify the company’s services to avoid losing millions. P.A.M’s largest customer at the time was General Motors, which had suffered bankruptcy. 

Cushman explored other industries for P.A.M. to enter but ultimately decided staying in automotive was the right choice for the company. In the past decade, P.A.M. has massively expanded its customer base throughout the automotive industry. Cushman noted that there isn’t an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that he can think of that P.A.M. doesn’t serve.

“I think we have clearly identified who we are, what we want to be and being the best at what we do in every division that we participate in and we do that extremely well. When I first got there, I really focused on establishing a sustainable profit model and I feel like we’ve done it and we’re true to ourselves,” said Cushman.

Transportation lawyer Cassandra Gaines

Dogs and small pets can bring comfort to long-haul drivers but also can bring costly burdens. Gaines explained that having pets along for the ride can not only be distracting for drivers but can be the cause for millions lost in courtroom settlements.

“Plaintiff attorneys like to hear that a dog is in the cab because they can say that dog was distracting even if it wasn’t distracting,” Gaines said. “It’s very hard to disprove unless you had an inward-facing camera showing everything, which most truck drivers don’t have. It’s hard to argue that it wasn’t distracting.”

Gaines suggested transportation companies should diligently review their pet policies and encouraged drivers to protect themselves from unwarranted legal troubles by keeping pets secured while driving and even consider installing outward- and inward-facing cameras in each truck as the ultimate key to exoneration.

“You are driving a very difficult, very heavy and very dangerous vehicle,” Gaines said. “Safety comes first — not our personal opinions, how we feel or money.”

Matt Silver, CEO and co-founder of Forager Logistics

Silver is on a mission to simplify cross-border shipping. His Chicago-based freight brokerage moves freight primarily between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. According to Silver, it’s a $20 billion industry.

“With Mexico specifically, there are anywhere between five and eight different parties involved in a single shipment,” said Silver. “You’ve got the U.S. and Mexico trucking companies, the border transfer guy, a warehouse potentially where you’re going to cross-dock it, a U.S.-Mexico customs broker, plus the shipper and receiver on top of it and two different languages. Putting all that stuff together takes a whole village to move a load across the border.”

Silver wants to eliminate the risk from cross-border shipping by automating the entire process. As the son of two freight experts, Silver has combined both tech and freight logistics to solve a problem as long as the border is wide.

Bruce Blaise, CEO and president of Kenan Advantage Group (KAG)

With a fleet of around 7,000 trucks, KAG proclaims itself as the only independent fuels delivery carrier with a nationwide network, with operations in 40 states and the ability to provide services within all 48 continental United States as well as parts of Mexico and Canada.  

Bruce Blaise believes that KAG is an attractive company for those wanting jobs in dedicated driving.

“You’re not out over the road for the most part, you’re working local,” Blaise said. “A lot of over-the-road truckload drivers and others that are in a more long-haul-type segment, we attract those guys. After they spent multiple years out on the road, they want to be closer to their families.” 

Driver retention is also key to KAG’s success. Blaise said it’s important to build relationships with drivers. 

“We have worked really hard to develop a great relationship with our drivers. I’m not your typical CEO. I spend most of my time with either customers or out with our drivers and really try to connect with them regarding the purpose of the company, and we feel like we’re really making a lot of progress.”

David Broering, president of NFI’s North American non-asset division

The freight brokerage industry has gained tremendous steam, which Broering attributes to the entrance of new digital brokerages, such as Uber Freight, as well as the aggressiveness of shippers. Broering sees the abundance of data available to shippers and carriers alike as key to empowering them to do more.

“I’ve been in the business for 20 years, and I’ve never seen a more competitive space,” Broering said. “For us, it’s really about figuring out what that margin is supposed to be for us. How competitive do we have to be in order to retain clients or to land new business? Growth is a big challenge for us.” 

NFI is a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that specializes in domestic and international supply chain solutions.

The company attributes its $2 billion in annual revenue to its large-scale presence in warehousing, dedicated transportation, intermodal, brokerage, transportation management, global shipping and real estate services, according to its website.

Chris Spear, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations (ATA)

Spear applauded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for its proposed changes to hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. These recommendations came after the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate took effect in 2016. 

On Aug. 14, FMCSA released a Notice of Proposed Rule that outlined revisions to HOS regulations. The agency is currently reviewing over 8,000 comments it received on changes in rest provisions, splitting time in the sleeper berth, allowing an off-duty break on long-haul drives, as well as extending the time for driving in adverse conditions.

According to Spear, the ATA is in support of the FMCSA proposals and wants to see regulations that promote both driver safety and flexibility.

“These flexibilities are the reality that our drivers face each and every day. The regulations have to reflect that; otherwise, they’re irrelevant,” Spear said.