Erb International Inc., Wins One of Two Grand Prizes in TCA’s 34th Annual National Fleet Safety Awards


Las Vegas, Nevada:

Photo:  Kevin Burch, Patrick Kuehl, and Wendell ErbThe Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Great West Casualty Company are pleased to announce that Erb International Inc., of New Hamburg, Ontario, has been named the grand prize winner of TCA’s 34th National Fleet Safety Awards for the category of truckload companies with total annual mileage of less than 25 million miles.

The highly coveted award was presented to Wendell Erb, general manager of Erb International Inc., at TCA’s Annual Banquet and Awards Dinner held March 2, 2010, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company will be recognized a second time during TCA’s upcoming Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, to be held May 16-18, 2010, in Kansas City, Missouri.

The other grand prize winner, Roehl Transport, Inc., of Marshfield, Wisconsin, won in the category of truckload companies with total annual mileage of 25 million or more miles.

The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety Division Awards announced in January. In order to be granted the prestigious grand prize, both companies had to demonstrate that they strive to meet stringent standards in their overall safety programs, on and off the highway, and were judged to be the best in their commitment to improving safety on our nation’s highways.

Erb International invests strongly in its people, believing that providing employees with the proper tools, training, and recognition is the key to safety success.

The company’s safety program begins with open and frequent communication. Besides traditional communications methods, such as newsletters, a magazine, and staff meetings, all levels of Erb’s management team use a “walk-about” management style. Leaders, including the general manager and president, interact frequently with staff and drivers, demonstrating their accessibility to, and interest in, all employees. This style of leadership encourages communication on all issues, including safety concerns, and reflects a true open-door policy.

A comprehensive Safety Management Program (SMP) is in place which defines the corporate safety culture and covers all aspects of the carrier’s operations. The SMP includes standards manuals, an emergency response plan, providing immediate feedback on potential safety risks, defined expectations for all personnel, training programs, and support resources.

Erb’s Pro-Drive Program is a driver performance monitoring and incentive program. Electronic Onboard Recorders are used to measure the driver’s speed, hard-braking, idle time, routing, and mileage. These measures are then benchmarked according to company and best practice standards and shared with the drivers on a monthly basis. The goal is to instill best driving behaviors, which reduce a driver’s accident risk, creates financial savings, and rewards a driver based on high performance. Those who do not meet the minimum company benchmarks (above average industry standards) receive further evaluation, training, and corrective action. Annual recognition is given to top performing drivers, owner operators, and terminals. Incentives are also given to drivers who remain injury- and accident-free.

In 2009, Erb’s driver turnover rate was just 10%. This long-term tenure can be partially attributed to its two-way communication between management and drivers, driver perks and incentives, ongoing training, and strong support of drivers while on the road. But the company also takes great pains to ensure that potential drivers are good matches for the job and for the company. Personal interviews are conducted with each applicant in a manner that stimulates the candidate to voice his/her opinions and answers; a simple “Yes” or “No” is not enough. A second personal interview is required for entry-level drivers, who are invited to bring along a spouse or significant other. This interview is used to determine if the applicant truly understands the job, the industry, and the lifestyle he/she will be experiencing and committing to once hired.

In addition to earning the 2009 National Fleet Safety Award in the small carrier category, Erb International also ranked as a finalist for the award in five of the past eight years. In 2009, it was also a finalist in Best Fleets to Drive For, a program administered jointly by TCA and CarriersEdge.

The judging process for the National Fleet Safety Awards began with the determination of the top companies in each of six mileage-based divisions. The division winners were selected based on accident frequency only. The top three winners in each division were then able to compete for the two grand prizes. The grand prize-winning companies were judged on their overall safety programs, both on- and off-highway. During the judging, some of the factors considered included safety program organization, employee driver/independent contractor selection procedures, training, supervision, accident investigation, inspection and maintenance of equipment, and outside activities. In an effort to ensure the highest level of integrity in the contest, all grand prize finalists were audited by independent auditors not affiliated with TCA or any of the carriers.

“The reputation of the trucking industry is built upon safety, and this year’s Grand Prize winners have spared no expense building safety programs that are second to none,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “We are proud and pleased to recognize them for their tremendous accomplishments.”