Don Hummer Trucking: Perspectives from a Third-Generation Trucker


hris Hummer learned about the trucking business from his father, who established Don Hummer Trucking in 1975. As a child, he would spend time

hanging out at the shop, getting to know the drivers and technicians. He obtained his CDL when he turned 18, has held a variety of positions at the company, and is now President of Don Hummer Trucking. “I was a trucking nerd before I even knew what a trucking nerd was,” he says. Chris shares some thoughts about his company’s success and the vital issues currently facing the trucking industry.

Infrastructure and technology play a critical role during a crisis.

“We were hit by two intense challenges this year. The first was the worldwide pandemic, which started in the spring and affected everyone in the industry. The second was an inland hurricane, known as a derecho, that blew through Iowa in August. In both cases, we were able to lean on the infrastructure and technology investments that we’ve made over the years. We made these investments with the goal of being able to support our drivers, regardless of the conditions locally or wherever they are at the time. When the pandemic hit, our office personnel were able to start working remotely without missing a beat. When the derecho hit, we relied on fail-over back-up generators that can provide power to the entire facility. Our main corporate office, where our IT infrastructure is located, was without power from the main grid for 72 hours almost exactly. In that period, we had only about 2 hours of downtime.”

Detention can be reduced, if the need is clear.

“One thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, particularly in the early weeks, was that suddenly drivers could get loaded and unloaded quickly. There was tremendous pressure on the food supply chain, so shippers and receivers became much more flexible and driver-friendly.


What that tells me is that they have the ability to do that. I hope that some of those lessons learned on how to reduce detention and how to make the supply chain flow a little faster can be leveraged going forward.”

We view driver turnover as individual cases, not as a KPI.

“We never look at turnover as a percentage. We look at each individual driver. At least once each month we go through any instances of turnover, determine the reason, and ask if it was something we could have corrected. If you want to have a KPI on turnover, that’s fine, but you need to understand what’s driving each occurrence. Each time a driver leaves, that loss is way more important to me than a number. Some people in the industry seek ways to hire more and hire faster. That’s not the approach we want to take. We want to be a company full of people who are here for the right reasons.”

Plan people first, and the equipment and freight will follow.

“In trucking you have to keep your people safe, and the people you share the road with safe. That’s number one. Number two is providing good service to your customers. Number three is building capacity. In my mind, the capacity piece is no good if we can’t be safe and we can’t provide good service, so we focus on safety and service first, and we build capacity as we can. Instead of stressing asset utilization, we take a different approach. The assets don’t move without the drivers, so we need to put the people first and concentrate on planning the people. The equipment and the freight will follow that.”

We need technology to provide more planning transparency.

“In the old days, drivers were given loads and expected to get it done somehow. In today’s world with electronic logs and all kinds of sophisticated in-cab and enterprise technology, drivers deserve a solution that gives them transparency into load planning. They need to be able to see how the operations department and driver managers are creating the

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