England kicks off Drive Life

Acting on the premise that personal success powers the way to business success, C R England Inc launched its Drive Life initiative on July 24, 2006. Held on Pioneer Day, an official state holiday in Utah commemorating the arrival of the first Mormon settlers in 1847, July 24 is a normal workday at England, but a day when many in the company schedule time off. More than 700 employees and family members attended the kickoff event.

The Drive Life presentation coincided with the introduction of a new logo for C R England, a truckload carrier of refrigerated goods throughout the lower 48 states. It also provided a platform for the announcement of a new compensation package for England's independent contractors and company drivers. Official announcement of the new pay package took place on the Friday preceding the Monday, Pioneer Day, gathering.

Drive Life began as a search for a way to help independent contractors become successful with their businesses, says Dan England, company CEO. Over the past several years, C R England has evolved into a carrier that leases most of it power from independent contracts. The current driver count shows more than 1,600 lease contractors, 1,300 company employee drivers, and 80 true owner-operators who already possessed tractors before signing on with England. Working with an outside consulting firm, England developed a plan that now applies to everyone in the company. “The primary operating principle behind Drive Life is that everybody can set and reach goals and that reaching for personal success can help people to move up in the organization,” he says.

Monthly and quarterly programs

Although not completely formalized, Drive Life will build on monthly and quarterly initiatives. It also will rely on the use of lots of visuals of high-performing (personally or professionally) personnel decorating the company facilities.

In remarks prepared to introduce the theme, England started by noting some things not included in or meant by Drive Life. “It doesn't mean that we will sit passively by and let the direction of our company be determined by uncontrollable conditions or developments in our industry,” he said. “It doesn't mean that the challenges of moving freight, no matter how difficult, will condemn us to providing mediocre service to our customers or operating in an unsafe fashion.”

Addressing the personal side of the Drive Life concept, he said that it “doesn't mean that the pressures and demands of our individual jobs will force us to be less than courteous and helpful to our fellow employees and independent contractors.” In terms of setting and reaching goals, Drive Life doesn't mean “that we become content with unfulfilled goals as a parent, spouse, employee, or independent contractor,” England said.

Noting that C R England has been in business more than 85 years, he said that it had lived through great and testing events including the great depression, which severely tested the founder Chester England, World War II, of which Gene and Bill England, the sons in the original C R England & Sons company name, are veterans, and more recently the war on terror. In that nearly nine decades, the company has been fortunate to have people who take control when things look bad. Confronting those crises contributes to a sense of belonging and allows people to rely upon one another at work just as they do upon their families at home, England said.

One of the goals of Drive Life is to encourage workers to step forward and take control when needed. In particular, England recognized Kent Nuttal and Roy Pierce for service in Iraq.

Taking control is one of the chief concepts behind Drive Life, England said. “We are in the business of delivering the nation's goods and doing it safely,” he said. “We all know that things can interfere with doing that on time. We have the choice of sitting on the sidelines and letting things happen — after all, bad luck happens to everyone — or we can grab the resources available and get it done.

Saying that Drive Life is every bit as personal as it is a company program, England noted the experience of Butch Hansen, a contractor whose tractor was recently destroyed by fire following an accident. Other drivers and company personnel took the time and made the effort to help Hansen, because his personal belongings were destroyed along with the tractor. Drive Life is about always caring enough to go beyond formal job descriptions to be honest with drivers and contractors to assist them in establishing secure livelihoods, he said.

This program is about “being the very best and by doing so increasing personal opportunities and financial success,” England said. “It's not a tag line; it's a way of being, reaching goals, and taking control of our personal destiny.”

New pay package

The new compensation package is called “Super Pay” and is designed to combat the impression that wages at England are lower than at other carriers. England says that drivers consistently make more money every year than the industry average. The reason for this is a longer average length of haul. Longer length of haul means fewer stops, and fewer stops mean more miles, which translate to more money, he said.

“Many drivers just look at pay as cents per mile,” England said. “Super Pay fixes this problem. Not only does it increase pay across the board, it increases pay for short runs in the company's National and Logistics divisions.”

The new compensation package pays independent contractor from 87 cents per mile up to $1.50 per mile depending on length of haul with the higher rate applied to the shorter hauls. Under the new plan, company drivers are paid from 26 to 50 cents per mile, based on seniority and length of haul. The result of these changes in pay will be an annual increase of $4,000 for independent contractors running solo, and $6,500 a year for contractor teams. Company driver pay will increase $2,500 annually for solo drivers and $5,000 a year for teams.

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