Getting to know Director of Dedicated Operations Ken Reimer
Hi Ken, tell us a little about what you do with TOTAL?
Well, I’m the Director of Dedicated Operations. Overall, I’m responsible for TOTAL’s Dedicated Division. Day-to-day, I handle the sales, design, pricing, while implementing and managing the operations. I’m very active with the day to day of helping drivers and dispatch operations. I’m also one of the contacts for our customers. Lastly, I work closely with the payroll and billing departments to make sure everything goes well in those areas.
How long have you been with TOTAL?
I’ve been with Total for 2 years. As a young adult, I had some experience with trucking and freight dock operations. My family owned a produce distribution business where I worked as a teenager. I really got started in the industry while in college with a 2 year internship at Exxon in their transportation department. After I graduated college I was recruited by an LTL company, Central Transport, and I moved to Atlanta, GA. While there, I managed a cross-dock that supplied parts to many automotive plants. That was my first experience with dedicated operations. After two years there, I took a position with Ryder Integrated Logistics and managed several dedicated operations over a 5 year period. After several years at Ryder, I ended up going to US Xpress who wanted to start a dedicated division of their own. US Xpress had about 80 dedicated trucks they acquired when they bought another company. While at US Xpress, we grew the division from 80 trucks to over 2500 over a 13 year period. In 2013, I moved to Florida and was the Vice President of Operations at Indian River Transport, a food grade tanker company. I left there in 2015 and went to work for Walpole which is a pneumatic tanker carrier based in Okeechobee, FL. In 2016, I decided to move back to TN and now I’m at TOTAL back doing Dedicated.
How many in your department?
We have 8 people in this department that fill all the traditional roles you’d see in operations. We have fleet managers, load planners, and customer service reps just for our dedicated operations. Then we have about 140 trucks and around 155 drivers running dedicated routes. We started with 10 Dedicated trucks here and now have close to 150 in just 2 years.
What is your short term objective?
To continue to grow the business at the rate we’re doing it right now. We want to grow with existing customers and develop our relationships with them while quoting future business. We’ll continue to market the product line to our existing customers while trying to add new ones. We’re producing about $2 million in revenue a month and we hope to at least maintain, and hopefully improve on that.
What is your department’s biggest challenge moving forward?
I think that’s people; having the right amount and the right quality of people. Drivers are the most important people in our division. Drivers are critical since the routes and jobs are very specialized. From a management standpoint, the Account Managers also have to be able to not only handle dispatch operations but must also be proficient with payroll, billing and customer service functions.
Dedicated sales is also one of the most difficult in the industry. It is a very long sale cycle and a highly competitive business segment. That’s always a challenge. If you just continue to work on deals, you’ll get many of them, but it’s a challenge.
What do you think is your department’s greatest strength?
Our greatest strength and asset is our people. Our drivers and managers are some of the best in the industry and work hard every day to meet our customer’s delivery schedules. In addition to the people, another core strength is flexibility. In today’s environment, we have to be flexible to handle all of our customer’s needs. Handling extra loads for customers adds value and is a requirement for any Dedicated operation.
What are your department’s long-range goals?
The goal for the Dedicated Division to make up 33% of Total Transportation’s revenue. In 2019, we are projected to nearly double in size and end next year with a 250 dedicated fleet. We’re going to need to grow a full organization. It’s not unlike building your own company. I think that it will model the truckload division in size and perhaps people.
What would you like our drivers to know about what you do?
The business that I’m going after primarily are jobs that drivers want. For the most part, drivers just love these jobs. They want more frequent home time. They want a certain level of income. Some of these drivers are working four days a week and are going to make $1,500. I don’t think that really exists in a lot of places. Now there are challenges with that of course, but what drivers need to know is that we’re going to continue to sell and to bring aboard customers with driver friendly jobs. We’re going to continue to look for routes that offer drivers an income where they can support their families and have reasonable time off to spend with family or raise children. In many cases, truck drivers are absentee parents. These jobs are going to give drivers the chance to change that. Drivers actually thank me for giving them this opportunity.
Is the story about you camping out for weeks at a customer true?
Yeah, when I was setting up the VASCOR account, I hitched up my travel trailer and took it to Muscle Shoals, AL for 3 or 4 weeks to get the business started. This allowed me to be close to the operation and save the company money with hotel bills etc. I was able to cook all of my meals and still be close to the operation to make sure everything went as scheduled.
Tell us a little about your family and what you do for fun.
Well, I’ve been married for 25 years in March. I have two sons in college and they’re good. I’m very fortunate to have a pretty good family life. What I do for fun? I like outdoor stuff. We have a camper we tote around different places from time to time. It’s a good way to keep the family together. I do fish some and I like to hike, to boat… anything outdoors. I like to be outside.
I like old cars and classic cars. My dad was into that, so that’s something we always did together. I’m fairly mechanical so I maintain and repair my own cars. I’ve got an old 1987 Chevy Camaro IROC which is the car I always wanted as a teenager.
What’s the best thing about TOTAL?
I think our biggest strength is that we understand time critical and time sensitive. We understand our customer’s business. When we have a problem with a time sensitive load, we solve it quickly. This is great, because to me, time critical should mean more money and better profit. I think that’s why we run a little higher level of profit than a lot of our competitors in the business. We understand that it’s stressful, and it’s more demanding, but we take on that challenge and hopefully, we’re able to accept a higher rate basis for that type of activity.
What do you like most about trucking?
I have been a big fan of trucking since the 1970’s. Our family had trucks and the business is very familiar to me. One thing about trucking is that it is a puzzle. Trucking is a constantly evolving business. You have to be able to make changes hour to hour to get the product to our customers. No two days are alike in the trucking business. It requires you to really be able to think quickly and learn new things on a regular basis. You have to be open minded and try new things. The other thing is that I’m creating jobs that people like. I’m actually creating jobs that are improving people’s lifestyles by increasing their income and their home time. There’s quite a lot of positives in that. You can influence others to make their lives better. You end up forging some really strong and positive relationships that pay you back in more ways than one.