A local trucking company recently increased driver pay in preparation for a federal mandate that drivers log their work electronically.
One of the biggest driver fears Shah hears is that the change—set to go into effect in December—will adversely affect their pay because the log may document small, unsubstantial moves as hours of service, Shah said.
“It’s a big fear for drivers,” he said. “It’s already a hard job.”
A typical guideline is that drivers shouldn’t have days longer than 14 hours and should only drive for 11 of those hours.
The electronic logs help ensure that’s what happens, Shah said.
“But the drawbacks are that they don’t account for extra-long delays at customers’ docks or the fact that some drivers may want to take a break every couple hours to stretch their legs or take a nap,” Shah said.
Shah spent time talking with his employees in an effort to understand their worries. He went into those conversations thinking that drivers wanted someone to listen and be a friend.
“I realized that’s not necessarily what they cared about,” he said. “What they care about is little things, nuances of the job that make them feel respected because they have so much knowledge [about the industry].”
He tackled the compensation issue and has increased pay by 12 percent, he said.
He pays experienced drivers more than 52 cents a mile.
Someone with less experience gets closer to 42 cents per mile, he said.
“There’s a range there, but it rewards the guys that have been there for a long time and done a great job,” he said.
Shah Trucking has also added other features that benefit its drivers.
For example, if a driver gets stuck somewhere for a reason that’s beyond their control, Shah makes sure they still go home with at least $600 for the week.
The drivers get paid by the hour if something pops up that isn’t their fault.
“An example would be if a customer has delays while loading or unloading the truck,” Shah said. “This is time the driver loses on their hours of service where they should be driving, but since it isn’t their fault, we pay them by the hour to make up for the difference.”
Shah has slowly grown his asset-based trucking from one truck in 2014 to 11 trucks now.
In 2018, he plans to add five to 10 more.
“I’m happy with the way business is going,” he said. “The largest hurdle is attracting the drivers we want … Clean records and experience [are] our biggest focus of attention.”
Penny per mile
Shah collects a penny for each mile logged by one of his company’s trucks and gives that money to an area organization.
Last year, he collected $10,000 and donated it to Chattanooga Area Food Bank CEO Gina Crumbliss to fund the Sack Pack program at Clifton Hills Elementary School.
This year, an employee suggested giving that money to the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter.
“Everyone rallied around this idea of helping homeless veterans,” Shah said. “We are going to give a financial donation again this year but [wanted] to do something more.”
So the company is also collecting socks, scarves, blankets and other supplies to give to the organization.
The public can drop off items at Shah Trucking’s office, which is located at 2641 Riverport Road, through Dec. 8.