After Hirschbach Motor Lines CEO/Owner Brad Pinchuk obtained his CDL about five years ago, he first used it for responding to trucks encountering diesel fuel gelling due to below-zero temperatures.
The license has been helpful for the head of the Dubuque, Iowa-based refrigerated carrier ever since. He’s used it from time to time in recruiting efforts and also gained insights on how to make improvements to his business.
About six months ago, the company's chief information officer, Chris Schmitt, also obtained his CDL to better understand the job, Pinchuk said, noting how that can help improve the flow of information within the company.
"I think it's really invaluable experience," Pinchuk told Transport Dive in an interview last week. "We're a trucking company. And we're made up mostly of truckers. And for the people that aren't driving the trucks, I think having that understanding as to what we're asking our drivers to do — it's really important."
The company has made improvements to their operations based on these firsthand experiences, for example making adjustments to how much information drivers need to enter for their fuel cards.
Pinchuk uses his CDL a few times each year for hauls. Last year his wife, Jillayne, went on a weeklong trip with him to deliver pork bellies from a plant in Iowa to a bacon facility for further processing in Texas. They also went to a Pilgrim’s plant for another haul.
The driving has highlighted for Pinchuk the challenges that drivers face, such as difficulties in finding parking, running out of hours of service, and getting a truck to a stop for restrooms, a more complex process than what smaller vehicle motorists experience.
"Hats off to all our drivers," he said in a video post last year, noting how his respect for his workers has only intensified with the firsthand hauls.
Jillayne Pinchuk said in a video series about their August 2021 trip that they used the time between hauls to recruit other drivers and promote the company.
Danny Christner, president of Hirschbach-owned John Christner Trucking, obtained his commercial chauffeur's license when he was about 21, he told Transport Dive. He said his license has been invaluable for building connections with drivers, and that other truckers loved seeing him and his dad, company founder John Christner, on the road.
He said his license has been invaluable for building connections with drivers. He said drivers loved seeing him and his dad, company founder John Christner, on the road.
"You can streamline processes and smooth out friction points for the drivers out on the road," Danny Christner said.
Beyond connecting with drivers and gaining a better understanding of the industry, Pinchuk says that having a license provides extraordinary insight into how their customers’ operations work. He said that one customer didn't have wash-out capabilities on site for trailers, but after Hirschbach noted the issue, the company moved to bring the process to the site, saving about four hours of time for drivers.
"You'll find inefficiencies," he said. "I think our customers … usually want to know about those situations and respond to them. But a lot of times, they just don't really have that direct information."
Are you an executive with a CDL or do you know of a colleague who makes use of one? Tell Associate Editor David Taube about it at [email protected].