Roadmaster Group doled out nearly $600,000 over a two-month period to its fleet of company drivers and owner-operators as a way to say thank you for continuing to haul freight amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to launch the COVID Appreciation Pay (CAP) program stemmed from a series of Facebook Live chats with drivers, who were struggling to find personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and on-the-road food after states ordered nonessential businesses to shut down in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus.
“When the NBA suspended its season, I think that’s really when the momentum changed on how the business world reacted to COVID,” Michael Fisk, director of marketing, recruiting and development for Roadmaster Group, told FreightWaves. “We realized we were asking our drivers to buy cleaning products, face coverings and hand sanitizers, which we reimbursed them for, but it was just an added expense and an extra burden that our drivers were incurring.”
While some carriers were offering financial assistance to drivers who tested positive for COVID-19, Fisk said Roadmaster Group wanted to reward its drivers who were continuing to risk their health to deliver the nation’s freight.
“It just became more and more difficult for drivers to get basic necessities like food and we needed them to be willing to continue to do their jobs and go into COVID-19 hot spots in the Northeast and the West Coast, so this was one way we could show our appreciation to our drivers,” Fisk said.
The Roadmaster Group, headquartered in Phoenix, includes Tri-State, Roadmaster Specialized and AATCO, all part of the Daseke Group of companies that haul high-security freight.
Fisk said over-the-road, regional, team and solo drivers received a 5-cents-per-mile boost, while local drivers were paid an additional $20 per day. Owner-operators received a 2% increase on standard contract revenue share.
The program, which ended May 31, may be reinstated if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases this fall, Fisk said.
Of the more than 700 drivers who make up Roadmaster Group’s fleet, only two are known to have contracted the coronavirus. Both have recovered and are now back at work, Fisk said.
“This [CAP] was a financial burden, but you have to treat your drivers well because they are the only revenue generators in your company, so you can’t just treat them like a commodity,” Fisk said. “It was the right thing to do.”