Riding a 25-year reputation of innovative industrial materials hauling, this bulk logistics carrier looks to transport its business to even higher standards of performance. David Soyka reports on how this family-owned company keeps on truckin’.
In the hauling business, it’s not who gets there the fastest that wins the race for new and continued business. It’s who gets there the fastest in the most efficient and safest way.
That’s not only the trifecta of modern transportation logistics, it’s the guiding principle of success for a family-owned entrepreneurial bulk hauler whose name epitomizes its practices – Modern Transportation.
The company specializes in transporting dry and liquid minerals and materials throughout the U.S., both for the producers and the manufacturers that use this material to make their products. This encompasses such industries as glass production, roofing, chemical manufacturing, and natural gas drilling and production.
“You know, these days everyone has a GPS with some kind of software package to plot the most fuel- and time-efficient routes,” says Richard Kushner, vice president of sales and marketing. “But a truly effective and value-added logistics solution involves considerations beyond mapping the shortest way between point A and point B. Which is why our customers depend on Modern Transportation for their dry and liquid bulk hauling requirements.”
First and foremost, Kushner emphasizes, is safety. The transport of bulk materials across public roadways always carries a certain degree of risk, but Modern Transportation minimizes that risk to the lowest achievable levels. “We have the highest insurance company safety rating of any hauler in the industry,” Kushner notes. “That’s a huge differentiator. This isn’t something you achieve through advertising. It’s something you earn, day in and day out. It goes without saying that no one ever wants anyone to get hurt on the job. It’s also a fact of business that accidents increase costs, so the fewer accidents, the lower your operating costs.”
It’s not enough to promote safety as a company value among your drivers and to hire experienced operators with safe driving records. You also need to invest in systems that help ensure safe operations, Kushner points out. These include on-board systems that monitor not only fuel efficiency and mileage, but also driver behavior, which include speed alarms and real-time logs of driving hours. In addition, tractors and trailers are equipped with the latest collision avoidance, cab integrated video monitoring, lane departure warning and anti-rollover systems.
Another key feature related to safety exemplifies Modern Transportation’s innovative approach to servicing customer needs: the employment of dedicated drivers, routes and facilities. Currently we have about 28 regional operations in place where our drivers do the same runs with the same tractors and trailers day in and day out,” Kushner explains. “In terms of safety, that means we have experienced people totally familiar with where they need to go, when they need to get there. That experience and familiarity significantly reduces the chance of accidents because you’ve reduced chances of the unexpected. There aren’t likely to be many wrong turns anyone winds up regretting.”
Such fixed expectations also help Modern Transportation recruit the best drivers. “Everyone in the trucking business faces the same problem: how do you get and retain quality drivers?” Kushner notes. “Well, in addition to competitive wages and benefits, drivers are looking for stable working conditions that keep them close to home. With regular routes, our drivers can plan an effective and consistent work/life balance. That’s very attractive to many experienced drivers who are tired of irregular schedules that keep them away from home.
What particularly distinguishes Modern Transportation is its ability to cost-efficiently set up a new operation whenever a customer needs it. “We take particular pride in our ability to establish service delivery lanes faster than anyone – whether that lane is from a new materials site or to a new manufacturing facility. We have the flexibility to build a supply chain from the ground up for a number of reasons,” Kushner notes. “First, we’re not simply a ‘truck-for-hire’ business. We’re not primarily focused on getting the most ROI out of our trucks simply because we don’t own our tractors and trailers. We lease them. So it’s not a huge investment on our part to add to our fleet as needed.”
He adds, “These are not your average tractor trailers, but are especially designed for transporting minerals. And because they are leased, they represent the latest technology as nothing in our fleet is over three years old.”
Customers are attracted to a dedicated transportation operation because it helps them reduce costs and ensure an efficient manufacturing process. “Large plate glass manufacturing is a good example of a mission critical environment – it’s extraordinarily expensive to run high-temperature melts required to produce glass,” Kushner points out. “You can’t afford downtime. So if your supply chain breaks down and you don’t have the materials you need to keep your furnaces running at optimum levels, that’s money your burning. A customized logistics solution with dedicated transport services ensures that critical raw materials always arrive safely and on time so your manufacturing process always runs at premium performance levels.”
Which is why Modern Transportation has been a leading dry bulk hauler almost since its inception 25 years ago. “Our heritage actually dates back to the 1950s to a company that employed mobile conveyer belts to trans-load off barges and trains,” Kushner explains. “Modern Transportation was founded in 1987 with a few trucks to do sand hauling. That’s evolved today to over 700 drivers transporting bulk industrial materials for major producers and Fortune 1000 manufacturers hauling hundreds of thousands of loads yearly from coast to coast.
While celebrating its silver anniversary, Modern Transportation isn’t content to rest on its laurels. “The growth of the natural gas industry, particularly here in Pennsylvania, has been a significant opportunity for us,” Kushner says. “And in a way the current economy works to our advantage because what’s driving companies today is the need to optimize their process to achieve the highest efficiencies at the lowest cost, which is precisely what Modern Transportation provides.”
He adds, “But we’re also looking to broaden our base in the industrial sector. Our core competency is as bulk materials carrier. The knowledge and experience we’ve accumulated over the years lends itself to offering customers consultative solutions that encompass a variety of fleet management, brokerage and logistics automation services.”
Bottom line, Modern Transportation has the track record and expertise to ensure the critical raw materials customers need in their supply chains always arrive safely and on-time. That’s the Modern approach to anyone’s transportation needs.