In 1972, Tom Kretsinger Sr., bought a little company named, E.K. Motor Service out of Joliet, Illinois. It was named after a client, Ed Kramer, who was ready to retire. That was before deregulation in 1980, so the real value of the company was its authority. One of the first things he did was to change the name. He wanted a name that had, as its letters, ACT, because he wanted the company to be proactive, or to act. From there he filled in American Central Transport, which has been our name since, but the company is better known as ACT.
Proactive means acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes. Proactive is the opposite of reactive, which means reacting to problems when they occur instead of doing something to prevent them. In more common parlance, being reactive is “putting out fires.” I know a lot of people in trucking through networking at conventions and meetings. Often during a meeting break, I will see them all out on their cells phones, “putting out fires.”
If you have been around ACT any length of time, one characteristic you will notice is that we are proactive. We think ahead. We anticipate problems before they occur, rather than dealing with problems after they surface.
Let’s talk about compliance. For many trucking companies, the thing most feared is a DOT audit. If you are not in compliance, you can find yourself in the middle of a lot of fires as a result. We, at ACT, never worry about an audit because we are “by the book.” We are compliant. So it is fine with us for the DOT to come in whenever they want and look at whatever they want. We were early adapters of CSA and electronic logs, in anticipation of changes in the law. So when the law does change, it is not a change for us. We are early adapters of hair testing. This allows us to know we have no drug users driving our trucks. By these and many other proactive measures, we know there will be no fires.
Let’s talk about customer service. Our customers look at us as a great service carrier. What makes us different? We look at something before we agree to do it and ask, “Can we do it?” We make sure we can do what the customer wants before we agree to do it. If we can’t, we are upfront about it, and this prevents a fire. Others charge ahead and deal with the problem when it surfaces, which it always does for those who are reactive.
What about service failures? No matter how good you are, things will go wrong from time to time. We watch our loads and try to anticipate any problems. Drivers call us if they have any problems with a load. We are quick to get back to the customer, before the customer even knows that there may be problem. In almost every situation, what could have been a problem goes away. People understand that trucking is not perfect. Given enough time and notice, things can be adjusted to solve problems.
What about accidents and lawsuits? Again, ACT is proactive. Our drivers know that they are the only person to determine if they are in an unsafe situation. They know that they have the authority to shut down and call us anytime they feel unsafe. Being proactive in this way prevents accidents. We also have event recorders. These devices protect us from frivolous lawsuits, and we work with drivers to proactively coach out bad habits before they become an accident. As a result of our proactive measures, we have one of the best safety records in trucking.
What about the driver? We are proactive with drivers as well. We know that they need our help, assistance and support. We know that their time is important. We pay detention after two hours, whether we collect from the shipper or not. We pay holiday pay, because family is important. Depending on the freight season, we work hard to give drivers preplans as much as possible. Getting drivers home on time is mission critical for us. We know you work hard and need to get home for some well-deserved rest and relaxation with your family. We put home time requests in our computer and monitor those carefully while you are working.
These are just a few examples of the many ways the team here at ACT is proactive. We are proud of this part of our culture and practice it every day and we always strive for constant improvement in every aspect of our business.
Happy and ProACTive trucking!