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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Flavors Of My Rainbow: The Easter Bunny Is Making Hand Bags This Year

My wife's tutorial  and shop on Easter Hand Bags. Gift idea for that significant other!

Flavors Of My Rainbow: The Easter Bunny Is Making Hand Bags This Year: I am in a mad rush to make Easter Bags  for the next two weeks.  I have got to go on a small outing with the girls to "Blow your head ...

A Question of Etiquette
Some good points written by Spot Canuck of Link to their site below:

7/09/2012 I was pretty lucky when i was a boy and able to make trips with my daddy and granddaddy, and their friends. If you know anything about old truckers, you know that they have the gift for GAB. And they naturally love to share what they know with anyone who has the patience to listen — even if you don't.
But boy did i listen. When you're a young impressionable kid and get to be in a big rig with the roar of the big diesel, the smell of grease and oil, the sound of the air brakes and the air horn, it all makes a big impression. This was in the day when trucks carried a spare tire on a rack, a jack and a wheel wrench. (Very few drivers hadn't changed one of those monsters in the snow or rain somewhere along the road at least once.) When i was finally able to get my CDL at 18 , I already had a pretty good grasp on what trucking was all about but had a lot of learning to do.
At that time, trucking was done by proud, honorable men (there were some women as well at that time, but they were few.) Employer's had loyalty to their drivers and the drivers returned that loyalty to them. There was a lot of respect to go around.
In fact, if one of the old timers saw any disrespect from me to another driver, mechanic, dockhand or supervisor, they would quickly straighten me out with a quick boot in the ass. They led by example, and held me to the same example.
It was a day when you would never pass and not stop behind a broken down vehicle on the highway, especially another big truck because someone could always use a hand, need a tool, or antifreeze or oil or whatever. You were glad if you could be of help. And you knew if you broke down, it wouldn't be long before another truck would come along to help you out as well. It was respect and etiquette.
Now then, if a may share just one item of etiquette that I hope you can put into practice and let rub off on those drivers that you may mentor in the future.
Here's the scenario: you're travelling at your chosen road speed down a ribbon of two lane highway. You do one of your mirror checks and you notice a big rig in your mirror. Your first thought should be: looks like this big rigger is travelling faster than i am, and may want to pass me.
Now what do you do?
Not yet, anyway. Keep going at the speed you were going. The driver behind you has already sized up the situation and decided to either follow you at your speed or will pick a safe spot on the highway to pass you.
If he decides to follow you at your speed, he will likely hang back a few truck lengths and that's the last thought you need to have on the matter.
If he decides to pass, this is when you should make the choice to be courteous to your fellow driver: DO NOT SPEED UP. Let him pass — in fact, ideally, if it's safe to do so, slow down a wee bit so the other driver is not left hanging out there in the oncoming lane for an unsafe amount of time. He's driving a big truck too, just like you, and we don't want any accidents!
The same thing applies on the three lane passing lane areas. If you are being followed by a long line of cars and other trucks because you are loaded heavy or are travelling slower than the other traffic, then DO NOT SPEED UP when you reach the passing lane. Be courteous, let the faster vehicles pass, and just ease up a bit if you can.
Don't be shy to show the rest of the travelling world that you are a proud and honorable truck driver.
It's simple etiquette.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Banks No Match for Trucks Where Rigs Pay Twice as Much
Article thanks to and By Jeff Kearns, Feb 5, 2013 10:01 PM MT
A link is provided below:

Robert Boyd quit his job as a bank assistant branch manager to start truck-driving school in September. He graduated in December and landed work behind the wheel of a rig at twice the pay.

Boyd saw opportunities in driving school ads on television, articles in the paper and trucks filling the roads. He contacted recruiters and enrolled at the Western Area Career & Technology Center, about 25 miles southwest of his Pittsburgh home. Demand for its graduates has climbed amid a national driver shortage and a local shale-gas drilling boom that are both boosting competition for drivers.
“Trucks are everywhere, especially on the main highways around here,” Boyd said after earning the Class A commercial driver’s license that helped him become an equipment operator for an energy company. “I’m 38 and this is it for me. This is how I’m going to retire.”
Boyd is riding a wave of job growth at trucking companies as they post payroll increases at more than double the pace of the nation’s workforce since the end of 2010. Demand is being driven by the economic expansion, new regulations that cap driver hours and rising turnover caused by long days and time away from home.
The job-placement rate for the school in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, has never been higher, according to Joseph Iannetti, the center’s director. “There’s a constant demand,” said Iannetti, who has been training drivers since 1978. “We place everybody we train, and it’s never been like that before.”

Rising Wages
The average annual wage for U.S. heavy truck and tractor trailer drivers rose to $39,830 in 2011, up 9.7 percent from five years before, according to the most recent data available from the Labor Department. Average hourly wages increased the same amount during the period to $19.15.

From the end of 2010 through January, trucking companies have boosted payrolls by 8.1 percent, or 102,900 jobs, more than twice the 3.4 percent gain in overall employment, according to Labor Department data released Feb. 1. During the 18-month recession that ended in June, 2009, trucking jobs declined at about double the rate of total payroll losses.
Analysts project more gains as the economy expands and truckers face new limits on hours of service. The industry is more than 125,000 drivers short of what it needs to meet demand, according to FTR Associates, the Bloomington, Indiana-based freight data and forecasting firm. The shortfall probably will more than double at the end of this year to 259,000 drivers, the biggest deficit in nine years, according to an FTR forecast.
‘Fast Enough’
“We’re projecting a continued slow growth in the economy but that growth will be fast enough to keep truck freight growing,” said Larry Gross, a senior consultant at FTR. He said new regulations, which will start to be enforced in July, will cut driver productivity and curb hours driven, resulting in a “significant tightening of capacity.”
The U.S. Transportation Department last February cut the maximum time drivers can remain on duty. Commercial truck drivers can work 70 hours a week, down from 82 hours. About nine in 10 long-distance carriers report that they can’t find enough drivers, said Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Associations Inc., the Arlington, Virginia-based industry group. Annual employee turnover at smaller trucking companies with less than $30 million a year in revenue rose to a five-year high of 94 percent in the third quarter, while larger rivals have a 104 percent rate, ATA data show.
More Tonnage
The ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose in December to 121.8, the second highest in four decades of history. The record was 124.4 in December 2011. The gauge of tonnage hauled in the U.S., based on surveys from members, has rebounded from a seven- year low of 100.2 in April 2009.
“We’re hauling everything from raw materials to finished goods, so we’re the entire supply chain,” Costello said. “It’s a great reflection of the tangible economy, everything that’s manufactured, wholesaled and retailed. You can’t put services in the back of a truck.”
Trucking shares rose to a record last month. The Bloomberg U.S. Trucking Index of 24 companies including J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. closed at 125.12 on Jan. 28, the highest in almost two decades of history after advancing 24 percent from last year’s low of 101.02 in August.
Listings for truckers showed the biggest increase last year among 31 occupations, according to JobDig Inc., operator of the job search engine that matches drivers with companies. The 12,472 new listings and 34,104 total positions posted in the fourth quarter both more than tripled from first quarter levels, according to data from the Minneapolis-based firm, which tracks openings at 25,000 firms.
Signing Bonuses
JobDig Chief Executive Officer Toby Dayton said some trucking firms are turning down business because of driver shortages. They are paying higher salaries, offering signing bonuses and paying for training, certification and licensing for new drivers, he said.
“They know that wages are going to have to go up in this area if they want to get their trucks on the road,” Dayton said. “They literally have trucks sitting in lots that aren’t moving and they’ve got to turn down jobs if they can’t get drivers for 17 trucks that they have in St. Cloud, Minnesota. There’s a very high level of frustration.”
Some companies are paying bonuses of as much as $5,000 for drivers who stay for at least a year and are even starting their own training programs, said Charles Clowdis, managing director of transportation advisory services at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. He sees the need for recruits in newspaper ads and on the air.
‘Many Columns’
“I judge by how many columns there are, and when it gets up to one entire page the shortage is real,” said Clowdis, who advises freight companies. “On any of the talk-radio stations you get nothing but truck driver ads.”
Trucking firms are confronting a “quality-driver shortage” made worse by workers leaving the job because of the long hours and time away from home, which boosts demand for the most experienced with clean driving records, according to Tripper Allen, president of Group1201, a Marietta, Georgia-based advertising firm that specializes in truck-driver recruitment.
Adding to the shortage is turnover because the “challenges and sacrifices” of long hours and stress don’t make the paycheck worth it, according to Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Grain Valley, Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Being Home
Companies including Werner Enterprises Inc. are doing more to retain drivers by keeping them closer to home. The Omaha, Nebraska-based trucker, whose routes span North America from Alaska to Mexico, gets about 70 percent of its drivers home once a week, up from about one-third five years ago, said Werner Chief Operating Officer Derek Leathers. That reduces the extended trips that have been one of the biggest barriers to retention in the industry, he said.
Yet he sees more challenges ahead in recruiting if there is a sustained recovery in housing and construction, which both pull workers from the same labor force as truckers.
“We could be faced with a very tight driver market before the end of the year really depending on at what pace the economy starts to recover,” said Leathers, a 22-year industry veteran who started as a dispatcher and spent time as a recruiter. “Drivers are becoming more and more of a scarce resource every day.”
As a newly minted trucker, Boyd says joining the expanding industry and learning the trade gave him a new respect for the kind of work drivers do and their responsibilities.
“You just have a whole new appreciation for what these guys go out and do on a day-to-day basis -- the complexity, the safety,” Boyd said in a December interview. “You always have to be on your toes. You can’t let your mind wander.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Kearns in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dos and Don'ts when Spec'ing Trailers

If you’re an owner operator either planing to replace or thinking about buying your own trailer, here are some good tips, thanks to  and written by By Kate Harlow of Link to their site below:

Learn from others' mistakes when looking for your next trailer
January 2013, - Feature
When you are getting ready to put a dry van trailer out to pasture and begin the process of searching for its replacement, there are many things to consider: maintenance costs, fuel-economy regulations, payload and the weight of the trailer, to name a few.
One way to navigate through the maze of options is to follow some tips a few trailer manufacturers shared with us.
DON'T focus solely on payload
There are many issues in terms of weight when spec'ing a dry van. The demand is high to make trailers lighter to allow trailers to carry more freight.
“A lot of spec'ing involves options to save weight,” says David Giesen, vice president of sales and marketing at Stoughton Trailers. “Replacing certain materials for higher cost, lighter materials — replacing steel with aluminum, for example — is something that customers really need to consider carefully.”
Glenn Harney, chief sales officer with Hyundai Translead, says the best way to address the weight issue is to make sure you understand your priorities.
“There is no trailer that can withstand all damage and loading challenges, weigh less than any other trailer and sell for less than any other trailer,” Harney says. “There are usually tradeoffs, and the key is to prioritize what needs to be accomplished.”
Another situation to avoid is choosing a floor that will hold the load, but might fail while the cargo is being loaded or unloaded.
For example, when hauling heavy paper rolls, the rolls are loaded with large, heavy forklifts, according to Larry Roland, director of marketing for Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. All of that weight is concentrated on the relatively small wheels of the forklift.
“What you have to consider is what floor rating is necessary to hold the immense weight of the small forklift,” he says.
Others have also seen similar spec'ing errors along this line.
“A common mistake people make is choosing a trailer with a floor rating that does not fit the application,” says Tom Rodak, director of corporate marketing and communications of Wabash National Corp. “Loading a trailer beyond its floor rating can damage crossmembers and prematurely wear the floor out, leading to increased maintenance costs and trailer downtime. Replacing cross-members takes at least three days and runs about $2,000.”
DON'T repeat the past
Maybe the dry van that will best serve your needs moving forward is exactly the same as what you spec'ed and purchased for your last dry van.
Maybe not.
“A mistake that we see often is spec'ing this trailer just like their last one, which is often not in the customer's best interest,” says Roland from Utility. “They may not be aware of the technological advances as well as many other options available to them now.”
Many large fleets are fairly well-informed about the trailer market, and what is new and innovative from different manufacturers, but it is still important to communicate with the manufacturer. And if you're a small fleet without a lot of time to keep on top of all that, it's especially important.
“Customers would be wise to inquire about what is new and what is being specified by most fleets today,” says Hyundai's Harney.
This will give you ideas about what is on the minds of other fleets running dry vans as well as let you in on the trends in the industry.
DO take another look at your old trailer
Before you retire that old dry van, give it another once-over, according to many manufacturers.
“You should inspect the equipment for consistent areas of damage,” says Roland. “If you are seeing a particular cut in the lining that is consistent, we then ask what's going on here in the operation. Maybe there's another spec available that would beef up that area of the trailer.”
DO get into the details
When spec'ing a trailer, one of the most helpful things you can do to find the right equipment is to dig into the details. What you haul is important in many ways, and so to is how you load and unload your trailer.
No one model is the best model for everyone, says Stoughton's Giesen.
“Depending on what you are hauling, like carpets, wall stiffness may be a factor, so sheet and post might work better for you. The key is asking questions to find out what the customer needs and then steer them to the best specification — what will work best for them.”
Before you are even able to get into the details with the manufacturer to find the best dry van, you need to do your homework.
“Sometimes the party who is spec'ing the trailer doesn't necessarily have all of the details,” says Brent Beasely, director of national accounts for Great Dane. “They don't have all of the requirements of the shipper. They don't know how the load is going to need to be tied down in the trailer, etc. Without these particulars, we can't find the best option for them.”
DON'T forget about the future
With the onset of Great Recession, many fleets had to tighten their belts.
As accountants searched for ways to save pennies, fleets went one obvious route — extending the life of their trailers.
Even without the recession, extending the life cycle of a dry van from seven or eight years to 10 or more has become more common, so think about your new trailer's longevity.
“Many customers can push the life of a trailer beyond what it is designed,” Beasely says. “On the obvious side, to extend the life you want to reduce your maintenance with things such as long-life lighting systems, wheel-ends with longer warranties, and maybe get a sturdier floor.”


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Alaska Highway

Nice piece thanks to St. Catherine’s Standard, a Canadian News Source. A link to their site is provided below:

NIAGARA REGION - South of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, to the west, the stunning St. Elias Mountains pierce the sky with Mount Logan (5950m), Mount Vancouver (4828m) and Mount Hubbard (4577m) forming a snow-capped, granite trilogy that complements the Big Salmon Ranges to the east. I try to imagine constructing a road through this pristine wilderness with Japan as its author.
The bombing of the naval base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, was the springboard for American entry into the Second World War.
Attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves launched from six aircraft carriers, all eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer.
To make matters worse, the Japanese attacked the Aleutians at Dutch Harbor on June 3, 1942, seizing two islands, and for the first time since the War of 1812, foreign forces occupied U.S. territory. Alaska was now exposed to great danger as well as most of the U.S. western coastline.

I ponder these events as I drive along the result of the Japanese aggression – 2,414 km of Alaska Highway that stretches from Dawson Creek, B.C., all the way up to Fairbanks in Alaska to serve as a U.S. military supply line and support for an air corridor to Alaska.
In 1942, Time Magazine referred to this engineering marvel as “a task for Paul Bunyan.” Nevertheless, on Feb. 11, 1942, construction was approved by President Roosevelt who demanded completion in less than a year!
In March 1942, engineers arrived by boat via Skagway, and on April 11, 1942, construction began with accidents bound to occur. I visit a memorial at Charlie Lake where on May 15, 1942, a pontoon barge loaded with a weapons carrier and a D-4 Caterpillar was suddenly hit by a squall and capsized. Twelve men drowned. Five were saved.
By the end of June, only 579 km of road was constructed, and by July, 1,223 km of road were in use, the precarious route surveyed by men slightly ahead of the work crews.
Food was largely pancakes, tinned sausage and chili as staples. Spam was a main dish. The men were ill trained, most not familiar with the heavy equipment, and unprepared for the harsh climate featuring the 3 M’s: mountains, muskeg and mosquitoes. They were forced to endure grueling schedules and work 12 hours at a time under extreme conditions with no running water, and they slept in tents.

October 1942 ushered in one of the coldest winters on record, and only two out of the original seven regiments were left working, one white and one black. The equipment became brittle. Nonetheless, working from both ends towards the middle, on October 25, 1942, just south of the Alaska-Canada border, the last gap was closed with an African American soldier and a white bulldozer driver shaking hands.
In the summer of 1943, U.S. forces reclaimed the captured Aleutian Islands, and with the highway now intact, over 8,000 aircraft were lend-leased to Russia, using the Northwest Staging Route (and Alaska Highway), to assist the Russians with victory over Germany.
The U.S. Army was not desegregated until 1948, and of the 11,000 men sent north in 7 regiments of Army Corps of Engineers, 3 regiments with over 4,000 African Americans arrived with 250,000 tons of materials and equipment. The camps were racially separate. Blacks were considered less capable, and many from warm southern states such as Mississippi and Alabama were exposed to hostile weather and working conditions. In a museum, I view a head shot photo of an African-American soldier, his black face almost totally encrusted in ice, creating a bizarre visual effect.

The route was carved through sheer wilderness and mountainous sub-Arctic terrain. Permafrost slowed down the progress in late summer. Muskeg was extremely hard to build on – frozen hard in winter, but sponge-like in warm weather. Heavy equipment sunk, and soldiers had to “corduroy” the road with cut trees set lengthwise, and logs laid across the width of highway which was then covered with fill.
I view the 91-metre long Sikanni Chief River Bridge, built by one African American regiment in 3.5 days, the men standing in an ice-cold river while working! And when done, they sang hymns at a Sunday service by the riverside.
Along the highway, besides truly spectacular mountains, lakes and panoramic vistas observed earlier by the soldiers, fellow RVers and I also view an impressive array of wildlife – bears, black and brown eating dandelions, bison alone and in herds, Stone’s sheep, mountain goats, elk, and even moose. It’s the Serengeti of the North, better than a zoo, and for the most part, the wildlife could care less as countless cars and trailers break to abrupt stops, disgorging people who jump out, cameras in hand. The mammoth-sized bison often claim the entire road, moving unhurriedly and licking up salt deposits. The bears are thin and hungry, moose speedy, and mountain goats display great dexterity as they navigate the steep rock.
February is designated as Black History Month. Few are aware of the dedicated and courageous the Second World War. African-American soldiers and their splendid success in the building of the Alaskan Highway, now a scenic pathway for tourists like me to visit and enjoy its spectacular landscape.
Read Mike Keenan’s Niagara Blog at:


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Battling Jughandles in New Jersey - On the Road -

Guest blog post by Evan Lockridge, Senior Contributing Editor, Link to their site below:

Politicians generally aren’t known as going against the status quo, but one is moving in that direction in an effort to stop jughandles, which he blames for gridlock at hundreds of intersections in his state.
New Jersey state senator James Holzapfel has introduced a bill that would prohibit the construction of more of these intersections in the Garden State. He’s been pushing for this for 10 years. Now the matter is set to come before the full Senate after clearing the Senate Transportation Committee, which he is a member of.
New Jersey is well known for jughandles, which change how left turns are made at intersections. Most work by forcing traffic to use a ramp on the right side of the road, past the intersection where a driver is wanting to turn left, with the ramp coming out onto the street where the driver is wanting to go -- otherwise known as having to turn right in order to turn left.
In an interview with WCBS-AM in New York City, Holzapfel explained that  traffic has gotten to a point of such high volume, jughandles are often backed up with traffic, causing gridlock at the intersection and blocking the way of other vehicles.
“Talk to an 18-wheeler driver or commercial bus [driver] and he’s going to tell you the worst thing about the state is having to use those things to get across intersections,” he said.
In other words, they may have been a good idea when traffic congestion was not a problem, but not such a good one now.
He went on to say his legislation would not do away with existing jughandles, only prohibit building more of them. Holzapfel cited places that have three lanes of traffic heading in each direction, along with two turn lanes, and computerized traffic signal technology at intersections, that are safer and less costly than jughandles, which he said often require the state to purchase additional property to build them because of their size.
However, not everyone agrees that jughandles are bad. According to published reports, the NJ DOT believes jughandle intersections are good at preventing traffic from backing up on roadways. Supporters of such intersections say they improve highway safety because they remove left-turning vehicles from travel lanes and they provide more space for left-turning vehicles, among other reasons.
Recent polls show that residents in the state, as well as those next door to New Jersey, overwhelming support jughandles. However, the senator counters by saying those who are from out of state and have never seen such intersections are often confused.
With a new report from Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute showing traffic congestion in the nation continues to worsen, plus states and the federal government saying for a long time more money is needed for highway projects to reduce backups, maybe the better thought is to look more at how traffic is moved across the country rather than just throwing additional money at road expansion projects.
Improving inefficient intersections and using newer technology to control traffic signals, just to name a couple of items, can be far less costly than simply adding more lanes to roadways. Unfortunately, politicians, who control the purse strings, and who like to get their picture in the newspaper and on TV so much, such ideas aren’t as sexy as new roads and bridges, and don’t garner as much media attention.
Holzapfel may not get his picture in the paper or on TV if his bill passes and is signed into law, but at least he is doing something different and to stop, as New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen sang in Born to Run, “The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

“My Driver” Kenseth joins the ‘dark side’ at Joe Gibbs Racing
Matt’s driving a Toyota for Joe Gibbs this season. The driver of the old "17" car now will be in the "20" and his teammates will be Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. I’d really rather see him in an American make, but he’s my favorite driver and I’ll still root for him! A die-hard Packer fan from Wisconsin that made it to "big time NASCAR". Story thanks to Nate and you can link to it below:

by Nate Ryan on Feb. 10, 2013, under USA TODAY News
The first public dispatch from the cockpit of the No. 20 by its new driver was quintessential Matt Kenseth.
Climbing into his Joe Gibbs Racing ride for the first time in a December test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kenseth devilishly tweeted a photo of a Darth Vader mask Velcroed to his rearview mirror and added a “#darkside.”
The post — a reference to pro-Detroit Jack Roush’s Star Wars allusion in describing Kenseth’s defection to Toyota — was the type of dry humor that has made the 2003 champion a popular figure among peers and fans who have come to expect daily doses of sarcasm and snark on his Twitter feed.
But this wasn’t the driver’s idea. The culprits were some of JGR’s merry pranksters, who also taped a primitive map of a manual transmission to the dashboard after Kenseth missed a shift that caused an engine change.
Despite the embarrassment, Kenseth tweeted a photo of that, too. The ribbing is one of many signs explaining why the Cambridge, Wis., native has settled quickly into his fresh digs after becoming virtually synonymous with Roush Fenway Racing in a 15-year run.
“I’ve never been in this position, but the first time you walk in a team’s shop that has a driver who’s leaving and you’re coming in to drive that guy’s car, there’s always that anxiety,” Kenseth said. “‘Oh man, that guy, they really loved him. I hope they accept me and like me.’ You want to fit in and be one of the guys. … I feel like the rookie. I’ve got my ears and eyes wide open, although it doesn’t take me long to voice my opinions.”
That assertiveness is highly anticipated by JGR. Though his understated persona often is overshadowed — after winning the Daytona 500 last year, he joked the first three questions of every interview were about the jet dryer explosion, Danica Patrick’s debut and Brad Keselowski’s in-race tweet — Kenseth, 40, is well respected within the garage for knowing what he wants in a car and being proactive about getting it.

“There’s not a driver that would have ranked higher on our, ‘Let’s go get that guy’ list than Matt Kenseth,” said Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development. “The feedback you get from engineers and mechanics on Matt Kenseth is this is one of the brightest and best guys in the garage to tell you what your car is doing and how to make it better.”
The reception from his new teammates has been extremely warm. Denny Hamlin attended the Charlotte test solely because of Kenseth and tweeted, “Mr @mattkenseth is a damn wheel man. Wow” (“I paid him off for that,” Kenseth jokes) after Kenseth jumped in Hamlin’s No. 11 and immediately matched his lap speed. Kyle Busch, who has moonlighted in Late Model racing against Kenseth’s son, Ross, also likes the replacement for Joey Logano, who moved to Penske Racing.
“Matt’s a huge addition to the team,” said Busch, who recently signed a long-term extension that will keep the trio together for at least the next three seasons. “That was one of the reasons that JGR looked at him, just having that leadership value. He’s the new guy, but he’s the old guy on the totem pole in experience.”
Kenseth, though, planned a rigorous freshman orientation at his new job, spending time in departments of JGR — such as the chassis shop — he hadn’t stepped in for years at Roush. “You feel like you’re getting your first shot,” he said. “Not like you’re starting your career over, but it’s really exciting because it’s different. … Every year something changes, whether it’s a car model or a rule or a couple of crew guys. But I’ve certainly never been through anything like this. It’s a completely different crew, crew chief, organization, car manufacturing, car body style and teammates.”
To help get acclimated, he has communicated daily and lunched a few times weekly with new crew chief Jason Ratcliff. During a test at Daytona International Speedway, he treated crewmembers to dinner at a nearby brewpub.
“From the first time he stepped into the shop, it’s been a lot of fun,” Ratcliff said. “He’s got a neat sense of humor.The guys have really taken to him. He brings more of a laid-back, very confident-type feel that creates a good environment.”
One of the most telling moments of Kenseth’s presence came after a drafting practice during the Daytona test. As Kenseth and Ratcliff debriefed in their garage stall, a crowd that included Busch, Hamlin and several engineers gravitated to them. “Sometimes you just need somebody to steer the ship or it gets off course,” Ratcliff said. “Matt is the kind of guy, even though he’s quiet and doesn’t seem an extrovert, he is good at evaluating where we’re at as a team and a company and helping guide that ship.”
Kenseth, who has 24 Cup wins and has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in eight of nine seasons, would prefer any comparisons to a captain, though. “I’m not a guy to organize meetings or necessarily be a leader,” he said. “I think I try to lead by example.”
Follow Nate Ryan on Twitter @nateryan

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Friday, February 22, 2013

20 Fleets Named 'Best Fleets to Drive For'

The Yanke Group of Companies, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,is the only company to be named a "Best Fleet" for all five years since the program was launched.

Drivers, take note of these companies, if you are looking for a change! Story thanks to Link to their site provided below:
Twenty trucking companies from across North America have been named the 2013 Best Fleets to Drive For by the Truckload Carriers Association and Carriers Edge.
The annual survey and contest, now in its fifth year, identifies for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers. This year’s winners are:

  • Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd. – Breslau, Ontario
  • Erb Group of Companies – New Hamburg, Ontario
  • Fremont Contract Carriers – Fremont, Nebraska
  • FTC Transportation, Inc. – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Gordon Trucking, Inc. – Pacific, Washington
  • Grand Island Express – Grand Island, Nebraska
  • Halvor Lines, Inc. – Superior, Wisconsin
  • Landstar System, Inc. – Jacksonville, Florida
  • Load One Transportation & Logistics – Taylor, Michigan
  • Motor Carrier Service, Inc. – Northwood, Ohio
  • Paramount Freight Systems – Jeffersonville, Ohio
  • Sammons Trucking – Missoula, Montana
  • Spirit Truck Lines, Inc. – San Juan, Texas
  • Steed Standard Transport Ltd. – Stratford, Ontario
  • Steelman Transportation – Springfield, Missouri
  • Tennant Truck Lines, Inc. – Colona, Illinois
  • TimeLine Logistic International – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Trimac Transportation – Calgary, Alberta
  • WTI Transport – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Yanke Group of Companies – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
In addition, five companies have been identified as “Fleets to Watch” (honorable mentions) for demonstrating innovation in their driver programs:
  • Celadon Canada – Kitchener, Ontario
  • Farm2Fleet – Gibson City, Illinois
  • Freight Exchange of North America, LLC – Chicago, Illinois
  • Prime Inc. – Springfield, Missouri
  • Transpro Freight Systems Ltd. – Milton, Ontario
The nomination process began in the fall of 2012, when company drivers and owner-operators were asked to nominate carriers that operate 10 or more trucks. After confirming the validity of the nominations and the trucking companies’ desire to participate, CarriersEdge interviewed human resources representatives and executives of the nominated fleets about their corporate direction, policies, and programs. Nominated fleets were evaluated against a scoring matrix covering a variety of categories, such as:
  • Total compensation package – including base pay, bonuses, vacation, and sick day allotment
  • Health benefits
  • Pension plans
  • Professional development opportunities (training, coaching programs, etc.)
  • Career path/advancement opportunities • Commitment to employee personal growth, including work/life balance, driver family support, and employee-directed charitable contributions
  • Commitment to continuous improvement, including dispute resolution processes and inclusion of driver feedback in policymaking
  • Team building and driver community development activities
  • Annual driver turnover rate
  • Fleet safety record
A selection of each fleet’s drivers was also surveyed, with their feedback compared to management’s and incorporated into the final score. The responses were then tallied, resulting in the selection of this year’s winners and honorable mentions.
This year there was a 50% increase in nominations and participation for the fifth anniversary of the program.
The Yanke Group of Companies, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is the only company to be named a "Best Fleet" for all five years since the program was launched.
“I think that’s a real achievement, considering how much we’ve seen fleets improve their programs since we started,” said TCA President Chris Burruss. “It’s very difficult to get named a 'Best Fleet' to begin with, let alone remain on the list for five consecutive years!”
The next phase of the contest is to announce the highest scoring fleets from each of two categories: Best Overall Fleet for Owner Operators and Best Overall Fleet for Company Drivers. These overall winners will be honored at the TCA Annual Convention, March 3-6, 2013, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Deciding on a Trucking Career - My Story

Thursday, February 21, 2013

GAO: Regs will improve oversight of impaired drivers

Article thanks to Jill Dunn of Link to their site is provided below:

The Government Accountability Office has reported new regulations should mitigate weaknesses in safeguards meant to keep impaired commercial drivers off the road.The GAO stated its previous work found vulnerabilities in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s oversight of impaired CDL holders, such as inadequate medical certifications for commercial drivers. The agency issued a Nov. 30 update of that research in response to a request from the Senate subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. It examined FMCSA controls to prevent medically unfit or impaired commercial drivers from operating commercial vehicles. The GAO, considered the investigative arm of Congress, also reported examples of commercial drivers with potentially disqualifying impairments such as epilepsy or substance abuse.It identified cases through roadside-inspection data and the Commercial Driver License Information System and Social Security Administration disability insurance files. The latter pays benefits to those who cannot work because of a medical condition expected to last at least one year or expected to result in death.A match of CDL holders with SSA disability files produced 204 commercial drivers who drove a commercial vehicle as recently as 2011, despite having epilepsy. Thirty-one of these drivers were involved in accidents, The GAO also identified 23 cases where state licensing agencies issued or renewed CDLs for drivers after SSA diagnosed them with epilepsy or noted drug or alcohol dependence.The GAO reported the two-year transportation reauthorization bill passed in July implements measures to ensure that could help address some of these problems.That law requires the FMCSA to implement a national clearinghouse of commercial-driver controlled substance and alcohol test results by July 2014. It added that the agency also has taken some action and now requires CDL holders to provide a copy of their medical certificates to the state licensing agency.