By Al Muskewitz
WEDOWEE, Ala. – LB3 has a simple yet award winningly effective approach to trucking safety on the highway.
Keep maintanence standards high and treat every car encountered on the road as if it’s your family car with family members inside.
It’s a philosophy the six-year-old carrier has had from the start of its operation and the reason it’s this year’s safest in-state fleet in Alabama.
Two weeks ago, LB3 won the President’s Award, the highest honor for a fleet at the annual Alabama Trucking Association Fleet Safety Awards. Its 20-truck fleet recorded zero accidents over nearly a half-million miles within the state of Alabama. Other companies may have traveled more collective miles across the state, but none have had fewer accidents for the miles (477,586). You can’t have less than zero.
“It was very humbling to win that award considering the other candidates involved,” LB3 chief operating officer Brian Lindley said. “When you’re going up against a lot of these big guys it’s very humbling to win awards like that because you have so much respect for those already who are leaders in your industry, so to be named with those is a very humbling thing.
“One of the things I’ve always told drivers and (wife) Valerie told them during training is you treat every vehicle like your family’s in it; you want to be that safe. That is our main slogan.”
The company has been recognized by the ATA and ATA Comp Fund for its safety awareness and accident prevention efforts ever since forging a relationship with the organization in 2016. Of course, there have been incidental accidents, but only one reportable incident over the last two years. It has never had a personal injury accident.
It’s not difficult to understand. Besides talking the talk, the carrier rotates its fleet of Freightliners and Internationals regularly and keeps the shop stocked with readily available parts for whenever it’s necessary to replace a piece – even before it’s time to change it. And when a mistake does occur, they all learn from it and move forward.
“There’s a reason they call them accidents – things happen – but you never want to get into a critical situation to where you push the limits; you want to have a good program involved,” Lindley said. “When it comes to our trucks and trailer safety, there’s just really no excuses for worn brakes or worn tires. DOT guidelines are minimum. You shouldn’t be running your company where you’re just trying to skirt around the minimums.
“Set your own standard or safety. You don’t want to set your standards to the lowest that they can be. When you set your standards at a high bar you can then kind of start forging your business into an upper echelon kind of deal. In this business if you stop you will get run over. You cannot stop. You’ve got to keep moving forward.”
‘I’m sorry, but you are in the trucking business’
Lindley didn’t start out to operate a trucking company.
He was actually in the chicken business, Laid Back Farms, raising breeding hens in rural Randolph County; the newly built LB3 maintenance shop and yard is located where the chicken houses used to be. That much inventory produces a lot of litter and something has to be done with it. Soon, he started a side business moving the waste as fertilizer, but it takes some wherewithal to move that much by-product.
His business partner suggested they invest in a truck and trailer. Lindley didn’t know the first about the trucking end of it and called around the county for insight and advice. The conversation typically started “I’m not in the trucking business, I’m in the litter business, but …” and as he explained the situation the voice on the other end interrupted to say, “Young man, I’m sorry, but you are in the trucking business.”
From those humble beginnings, LB3 has grown into an operation with 20 trucks delivering refrigerated fresh poultry and paper products to markets primarily east of the Mississippi.
If he was going to be in the trucking business, he was going to do right by his drivers, his staff and his customers. He started a relationship with the Alabama Trucking Association and its programs and have been moving forward ever since.
“You started realizing then there’s more to this than just trucking,” Lindley said. “There’s a safety aspect of it that you’ve got to be mindful of.”
A ‘willingness to evolve’
On this particular day, Lindley was meeting with the company’s safety and compliance consultants, Transafe LLC, discussing, among other items, the merits of forward- and rear-facing cameras for accident documentation, assets that could have made a difference in the resolution of that 2018 reportable accident on its record.
Joel Garrett, the consultant working the account, said when he started working with LB3 about a year ago the carrier’s safety program already was “above average” within the industry.
The key to its safety success, he said, has been its “willingness to evolve.”
“They were already knowledgeable in a lot of it because they had trial by fire,” Garrett said. “They had already been through a compliance review, so that’s where you get baptized by fire into the rules and regulations and the cost of not being compliant. They already had some structures in place.”
The proof is in the various awards they display in the company offices, which Lindley converted from his grandmother’s farmhouse. They’re going to have make room for its biggest award yet.
LB3 drivers will put their safety skills on display next month when the carrier hosts its own version of the canceled state and national Truck Driving Championship. It’s part of Lindley’s way to reward his drivers for a job well done during some difficult and demanding times.
Al Muskewitz is the Editor of Wright Media. He can be reached at email@example.com