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On the Road with Con-way Truckload’s President

Open Letter from company President, Joe Dagnese

As part of my onboarding at Con-way Truckload, I decided it would be best for me to learn what we do from the ground up by taking a truck trip. I set up the week to spend five or six days out on the road with Mr. Frank Merrill, one of our professional Driver Finishers. We had a mix of tough days with short miles, mechanical issues with our trailer, and axle weight distribution problems on an automotive parts load, but we powered through, logging a total of 2,327 miles - not bad for a rookie.

My experiences from the trip were humbling and helped validate the key areas we are working on to improve our company. We have to think differently about how we approach what we do, and how we do it. One of the most important things I realized was that engaging management with our driver workforce is critical.

I discovered, during a long conversation with Frank one night, that management and drivers don’t always communicate well with each other. For example, a question was posed by one of our drivers in a “Your Voice is Heard” call, which, although the senior management team answered the question, they didn’t really answer the true underlying question. It took Frank and I almost 30 minutes of back and forth to get at what was really being asked. We, the management of the company, need to take more time to truly understand what the driver issue or need is. I have asked our management team to ensure we are addressing the true root of the questions being asked. I would also ask that you, our professional driver, try to frame up questions as transparently as possible. If you see an improvement opportunity, state the problem and reason it is an issue. Of course, your suggestions and input as to how to address the problem are absolutely welcome. To submit a question or issue, email communications@conwaytruckload.com.

Frank and I also discussed the Smith Key Principles of Safety in detail as part of creating a safe driving environment, which is the foundation of our culture. What I found is that these same principles apply to how we need to think about transforming our company to make it stronger.

1. Aim high in your steering = Aim high in your goals for success.
2. Get the Big Picture = Every employee at Con-way Truckload should know how their job fits into achieving our company goals.
3. Keep your eyes moving = Have eyes for improvement to eliminate waste and inefficiencies. Do not accept “this is the way we have always done it” unless it is proven to be true.
4. Leave yourself an out = Our key focus priorities will change with the landscape of the market. It is imperative we stay ahead of what is happening around us.
5. Make sure they see you = Be a relevant company in our industry and with our customers.

I appreciated both Frank’s time and honesty. The trip opened my eyes to some important issues facing our drivers, company and industry and my purpose is to ensure that we continue grow stronger as a whole. I ask you all to share your thoughts and ideas to help us all improve. Thank you for your commitment to safety and to Con-way Truckload.

Stay safe out there,

Joe Dagnese
President, Con-way Truckload

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