Kennesaw Transportation was founded by Pat and Linda Patrick in 1981, and is now headed by their daughter Kelly. Based in Rydal, the refrigerated truckload carrier services the entire country. Commodities include flooring, pharmaceuticals and produce. The company has 310 employees (including 160 drivers), 165 trucks and 230 trailers.
TRUX recently spoke with Kelly Patrick about the company, strategic plans and her leadership goals.
What are your responsibilities as company president?
I manage the day-to-day operations. I make all the big decisions, but I have an amazing management team that walks alongside me through this journey.
Why do you choose to lead?
I think it’s ingrained in me. For my first job at Kentucky Fried Chicken, I started out as a cashier and ended up being an assistant manager.
When my dad and mom started the company, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to run the company and be the boss and be the best. I have a passion and love for trucking, for the people in trucking, and I like to inspire and motivate them.
What’s your leadership style?
I have an open-door policy. I like working with the people on my management team, the employees and the drivers to find solutions when they come to me.
I would like to be a servant leader, and I do want to share the management and leadership. When I help other people develop and grow, I develop and grow and learn along the way, too.
How have you adapted your recruiting and retention practices to fit the changing demographics of the trucking industry?
We’ve increased our pay packages and included mileage bonuses. We’ve hired and added more recruiters. We have incentives for our drivers for referrals. We keep developing our training program.
We focus now on driver retention. We take care of them (drivers) on the road, and we want them to have an outstanding life when they’re not on the road. We understand that time off is very important. If they need to take time off for personal reasons, we try to accommodate them.
How do you approach strategic planning for your company?
We do an annual business planning meeting in the third quarter of the year and then as we go through that year, at the end of the second quarter we review the business plan. In the third quarter, we start working on the business plan for the next year.
I hold weekly sales meetings with our operations and customer service and sales teams, and I have meetings every week with my entire management team. These cover a gamut of situations that we need to work on.
Do you have any longer-term strategic plans?
We have some property up in Chatsworth where there is a huge inland port. I’ve always wanted to get into ports and intermodal and other power-only programs.
I want to continue developing our properties to make sure that they’re nice for the drivers and for the employees. And we have a brokerage, so I will continue to send our overflow there to make sure that we can cover everything.
How do you lead employees toward the company’s goals?
I lead by example, and I continually expand my education. I network with a lot of people and reach out to other owners of trucking companies to learn from them. I just keep growing and challenging my brain and encouraging my team.
I attend conferences and seminars, and I encourage my team to go to the seminars and network with people, to get business cards and to reach out to them when they have questions.
Leadership can be stressful. What keeps you up at night?
Not a lot. I try to get my six or seven hours of sleep every night.
I’m very grateful for the position I’m in and the opportunities I have. So, if I’m not able to sleep, I do a gratitude list. I have a very strong faith in God, that he will get me through anything, day-to-day, week-to-week, year to year. And he always does; he takes care of tomorrow. If I make the right choices, I feel God will guide and direct me. So, I sleep really well at night.
What’s the last leadership book you read?
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. It’s about the laws of management, and although it was written 20 years ago, it’s pretty much on course today.
Any management training?
I’ve loved the Dale Carnegie courses I’ve attended in the past three years. I go to the GMTA summer and fall conferences, and I learn so much every time I go.
I attend the Trucking Profitability Conference once a year in Athens. I look forward to that because it’s just trucking companies, and I get to network and pick other people’s brains.