CO-FOUNDED BY LARRY Sellers, Volume Transportation will celebrate its 30th anniversary in June. During its three decades, the company has grown from a startup with three tractors and three trailers to an organization that includes, with its affiliate companies, 370 trucks and almost 500 associates. Headquartered in Conyers, Volume primarily serves customers in the food service and food packaging industry, traveling the eastern half of the U.S. from Texas to Chicago and now into Canada.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY?
My grandfather was in the wholesale grocery business, and throughout high school and college my time was spent either in school, playing sports or unloading trucks. My father-in-law was also a great inspiration; he and his twin brother were owners of a well-established trucking company.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO LEAD?
I’ve been in leadership roles since I was in high school. I’ve always been very serious about my work; I believe that work is good for us, for our body and for our mind.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?
Our people are, and will always be, our greatest asset. It’s not about me; we talk a lot about teams and teamwork and the discipline that it takes for the team to win. We live and die by a quote from Vince Lombardi:
Individual committment to a group. This is what makes:
A Team Work
A Company Work
A Society Work
A Civilization Work
We believe a company is much like a person, with a heart and a soul and a spirit, and that it grows through the years. When you make mistakes, you fix them, learn from them and move on.
THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY ARE CHANGING. HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED YOUR HIRING PRACTICES?
We’re starting to have people age out from our company, so it’s important to bring in new talent, new energy, new blood. We’re excited about the next 30 years here with the people that we’re bringing into Volume and its affiliate companies.
The technology in our industry is fascinating, and we need young people coming to us, whether as an associate in the office or in the shop, or a driver behind the wheel. The key is making sure that they’re in the right seat. We may bring a young man or a young woman in for an opportunity, but it’s just not right for them. But put them in a different seat and they thrive.
WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH TO STRATEGIC PLANNING?
We plan at least 48 months out. We have an executive team that’s made up of three people and myself, and it covers all facets of our business. Whether it’s safety, maintenance, personnel or operational, we’re thinking not only about what we did yesterday, but what we’re going to do tomorrow with hard assets and with people.
With people starting to reach retirement age, we prepare for their exit 24 months ahead of time. We bring new people in, do cross-training and get ready for their departures so that our customers and the Volume family don’t see a change.
WHAT KIND OF COMPANY GROWTH DO YOU ANTICIPATE?
Our base of customers has always been good for us. We’ve grown anywhere from 12 to 18 percent a year, both within our base and outside of our base.
We have an extremely bright future because of that excellent customer base. It’s very humbling, because they could choose anybody as their carrier, but they have chosen Volume to be their carrier of choice.
LEADERSHIP CAN BE STRESSFUL. WHAT STAYS ON YOUR MIND?
There are many frivolous lawsuits out there that attack our industry, so the challenge is to be safe. We concentrate, day in and day out, on being disciplined in doing what we have to do to make sure we don’t give these “billboard lawyers” anything to work with.
We believe that the job of a professional driver working here in the United States is difficult. The driver is on his own, navigating the hazards of the road every day.
WHAT’S THE LAST LEADERSHIP BOOK THAT YOU READ?
Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney. It’s an amazing, inspirational book, and has so much that we can learn from Eisenhower as a leader. He was a strategic thinker.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ON TOP OF YOUR GAME?
We always have to be thinking about what we’re going to do down the road. In this industry, you’ve got to be ready for change. There’s a saying out there “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.”
We talk a lot here about the slippery rocks in the creek; before we get to the creek, we want to know where the slippery rocks are. It’s my role to be aware of them.