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iTech: Managing a Fistful of Trucks

By Bruce Lilly, Contributing Writer

This story appears in the August/September 2013 issue of iTECH, published in the Oct. 14 print edition of Transport Topics.

I’m an Excel spreadsheet girl,” said Patricia Newkirk, owner of Troublefree Transportation in Butler, Mo., “so literally at the end of every quarter, I was taking every single trip envelope and putting my miles by state into an Excel spreadsheet. I had to enter all of the data manually. It took me hours and hours at the end of every quarter to do my fuel tax.”

Welcome to the world of small trucking companies. Chores that are routinely automated at companies with large fleets often are handled manually when only a handful of trucks are in play.

Yet not all small carriers are willing to stay confined within the spreadsheet mode of business management. The technology provided by a transportation management system can bring valuable efficiency boosts to carriers of any size, as Newkirk discovered.

She learned about an affordable TMS from the National Association of Small Trucking Companies. Headquartered in Gallatin, Tenn., NASTC offers members a discount on its application, MYSTC (Managing Your Small Trucking Company).

“I could bill my invoices in there, it would run miles, it would figure my driver payroll and it would do my fuel tax,” Newkirk said. “I was amazed at all the time it would save me. I honestly wasn’t looking for a software solution, because I figured I could not afford it. When I looked at the time savings, and the fact that I could get the software through NASTC for such a low price, I knew it would be a good deal for us. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a no-brainer.”

Versions of this story are occurring nationwide, because in the trucking industry, small can be big. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 97% of the country’s 440,000 for-hire truck fleets have fewer than 20 trucks. So in terms of the number of companies hauling freight, small carriers rule. There are more than 425,000 fleets that run fewer than 20 trucks, compared with about 13,000 that utilize 20 trucks or more.

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