Heather DeBaillie

Interview by
Published on
May 11, 2022

In this episode...

A long time ago, there were no alternatives to how to weigh your truck and trailer. Finding truck scales can be a tedious process that can waste a very precious commodity that we can never make back - TIME. While these are all necessary steps to make sure that drivers and their trucks remain safe while on the road imagine the time spent on this process: Drive truck to the scale Get out of the truck Proceed to the truck stop Wait in line Pay for the service Go back to the scale Get the truck weighed Go back to the truck stop for the receipt This is what Heather DeBaillie of CAT Scale Company wants to address with the WEIGH MY TRUCK APP - where you can pay for your transaction and get a weight ticket- all without leaving the cab of your truck. More than convenience for the driver, the time spent by streamlining the payment process can allow for faster time to get back on the road and deliver excellence. Life By The Mile talked to Heather about the Weigh My Truck app, CAT Scale Company’s other efforts for trucking, and many things in between on this episode.

Heather DeBaillie

Vice President of Marketing at CAT Scale Company


and then well of course if your name is cat your logo has to look like a cat so when logo ideas were being tossed around it was on a napkin somebody took a quarter and drew a circle around the quarter and added some ears to it and we just kind of developed it from there so it's literally one of those napkins you know what that proves you don't need an advertising agency to come up with a great logo no you just need somebody who likes to doodle and you'll figure it out

we're here at the mid-america truck show it's the 50th anniversary life of the mile delivered by freightworks i'm butch maltby we love having different guests from different parts of the industry and i'm so grateful to have heather de bali de bailey de bailey heather debaley thank you for helping sure um and and she is with catskill you know what's so interesting is like xerox or kleenex cat scale is like the name drivers use don't they it is and we've worked really hard to make sure that that's the case yeah now tell me a little bit about your story how did you end up there how did you get into trucking and logistics just just get give us your story and don't hold anything back okay um for catscale company this year is our 45th anniversary right so our first scale opened in south holland illinois really in 1970 dutch country so that was that was our test baby and i guess as they say the rest is history we have 2075 locations now across the united states and canada and we're still opening more as you know load generation points change we have to change with that and make sure that we're available for the driver how did you come into this industry how did i personally cover personally yes you well okay well that's a funny story so many many years ago i was working for a non-profit and that particular term was coming to an end and my then current boss was gracious enough to introduce me to delia moon meyer who owns the iowa 80 truck stop and cat scale company and she at that time was looking for a marketing person and i went and talked to her for several hours and she offered me the job on the spot and i've been there almost 28 years isn't that something that that's incredible now what was it that drew you to her or drew you to the company you know i think it was i was intrigued by the fact that they were serving drivers it was a 24-hour business it was something i didn't know anything about and i love a good challenge so i thought what the heck let's give this a whirl and see if i like it well i'm still here so that is so it to me it just speaks the quality of a company when you have somebody that stays so long and you know what it at freight works and by the way we're a customer and we're grateful for our partnership with each other so much let's talk real quickly for the uninformed about how important weight is assume for a minute we've got viewers and listeners who don't really understand the way you do certainly how weight is important can you be a teacher per minute and just describe that so for those even non-drivers or maybe drivers that are hauling local and don't have to weigh i mean when you're out on the interstate and you see those green weigh station signs i'm going to get very elementary here so yeah but do you drive your teacher forgive me drivers yeah um you know the that's the enforcement arm so everyone when those scales are open drivers are required to pull in and weigh because it's it's a check if you will to make sure that they're complying with the 80 000 pound road limit in some cases um you know there's axle you know there's 12 000 pound axle trailer axle weight limits as well but they're fine if they're over you know on an axle or if you're overgross there's a citation that can be written for that so that's where we come in as cat scale is a place for the driver to weigh check their weight get their axle weights get their groceries make sure they're compliant make sure that they're legal before they head down the road because the last thing you know anybody needs is is an extra expense and the delay of you know if they're over they've if they're over gross then sometimes they've got to turn back they've got to call another truck they've got to offload product i mean there's all kinds of you know bad scenarios that happen if they're an oversized load they might get their permit revoked and then the fines can really really rack up so what catscale has done is we guarantee our weights so if a driver weighs legal on a cat scale they go down the road they get pulled into a state way station and they're issued a citation we will reimburse the driver for that citation yes and in many cases when it's a very high dollar fine we will go to court with that that driver as an expert witness and provide all of our maintenance records and and just help them and i guess i can say that we've never lost you know the great thing about this too is that uh you know a driver doesn't want to be frustrated by driving 150 miles getting weighed and then figuring out i got to go back or do something to fix it it interrupts the whole flow and there's a side to this that's driver frustration it's real right it is and you know because as we say time is money and you know drivers if you're an owner operator obviously you're paid by the load but you have a time frame that you have to stick to for that delivery i mean as well as hours of service rules that you have to comply with and if you're you know if you're a fleet driver the same thing applies and you're getting paid by the mile and you're not getting paid when you're not rolling right um so we've really worked hard to make sure that we're placing our scales in locations where drivers need us where that load origination happens we're working very hard to streamline the weighing process to make sure that it doesn't take drivers of you know unreasonable amount of time so that's what led to develop our way my truck app can you talk drill down on that a little bit talk a little bit about that application and what it means for drivers and just some of the features so real bird's eye view it's taking a process that may take 20 to 30 minutes because a driver has to pull on the scale they talk through the intercom they pull off they go find a place to park they walk inside to the fuel desk get their printed ticket if they're good to go they go back in their truck and head on their way but it's lots of steps if they're not then they don't find that out until they're at the fuel desk with their printed ticket and it's like i'm over on an axle now i got to go out and slide you know two holes or whatever they've got to do to get legal and then pull back on the scale weigh again you know that can become a very long involved process so we had already felt like we'd covered the whole guarantee and the accuracy of the weight so how else could we help the driver right and that turned into we could save them some more time so the way my truck app they pull on the scale they open the app it geolocates where they are so they see that on their they're in the truck they're in the truck they don't have to talk on the intercom it all has all their information because they've set up their account and they just verify that say yep yep that's good then it talks to the scale processes their payment shows them their weights right there on their phone so they know immediately whether they're good to go or if they're going to have to pull off and adjust anything so they're self-managing all of this right and they're not they don't have to go inside so they they don't have to park they don't have to stand in line at the fuel desk and we email as soon as they pull off the scale their email box is getting a locked pdf copy of the scale ticket as well so that's their documentation and that is it looks just like the printed ticket and if they're uh somebody who's driving for a fleet then the fleet has probably set it up so they automatically get a copy at the same time so everybody's getting this information so that's seamless and you don't have a lot of disparate processes that are happening and this is all happening with in 60 seconds so that's you know we're saving drivers 20 30 maybe even 40 minutes every time they weigh now let me ask you this heather how does technology affected your product offerings through the years i mean go back in the years that you've been there and just track for us kind of the iterations of what you did and what technology is allowing well i mean the technology even just for our our load cells and our scale instrumentation to be able to we can remotely dial into our scale locations for diagnostics we can get automatic reports from our scales if something just isn't jiving i guess you could say that our our scales are diagnosing themselves if things think they have a problem and they're telling us before the location even knows before a driver may even know and so we're able to correct those things before it affects anybody where was the first location our first scale location was in south holland illinois okay and where has been the most recent one oh gosh now you're really gonna ask me um we opened one in florida just this week and i can't remember i've been on the road so i can't remember exactly you're doing your job so and you have how many now we have 2075 locations and how fast are you growing with the locations what's the pace of that the pace i would say this year we're going to open 70 locations and they're in every state and they're in almost every state we're not in alaska in hawaii well okay there we go i've been pushing for hawaii but nobody will bite off nobody is biting on that yet i i volunteered to be the advanced team exactly except i'm sure there are drivers that would love if they could figure it out yeah now let me let me ask you this when it comes to the whole i've been asked this question before when it comes to the whole issue of weight like gross weight limits how are those calculated i mean on what basis are there even weight limits and why lay people ask me why are there weight limits in the first place well the weight limits it's it's safety it's also the roads i mean if if we're continually if there's no weight limit then you know the let's face it our roads aren't that great to begin with right so the weight limit the heavier the loads breaking down the roads etc so that's you get a lot of degradation with more weight right and it's also a safety thing with you know trailers and tire pressure and you know so there's a lot that goes into the reasoning behind having weight limits okay now you we were talking before we came on for the podcast about the logo i want to hear every detail about how cat scale and its logo was created can you tell us that story well well cat scale isn't you know cat is an acronym right for certified automated truck scale so originally it was certified automatically what a great acronym yes i mean a marketing company would have charged an arm and a leg for that so then it just was shortened to cat and then well of course if your name is cat your logo has to look like a cat so when logo ideas were being tossed around it was on a napkin somebody took a quarter and drew a circle around the quarter and added some ears to it and we just kind of developed it from there so it's literally one of those napkins you know what that proves you don't need an advertising agency to come up with a great logo no you just need somebody who likes to doodle and you'll figure it out and you know what i love stories like this on the back of a napkin uh you have this now brand that everybody is is aware of let's talk a little bit about the future what do you see coming up around the corner for you know giving the market and giving the demands giving new technologies given infrastructure in america what do you see just be a prognosticator for a few minutes well you know for us as cat scale we're always as as length of hall is changing you know distribution centers and freight hubs and intermodal uh hubs as those are changing and those are being added in different places you know we have to keep track of that because like i said before we want to be where the drivers need us right and wherever they're loading that's where we want to be fairly close by so we can be there so you're following the unfolding map of all of that so that you can be that ancillary support we are and you know and i know truck stops are doing the same and they're locating in those same areas and we partner with a variety of truck stops and so if they're going to go into like whom like like a loves ta pilot okay um so we have partnerships with them that we will be the scale at their location okay so in other words your partnership is driven by a need that is there and the fact you're going to get traffic that's there right and so we're keeping track of all of that we're also on the technology side anytime there are improvements where we can upgrade even just our internal software that operates our scale locations yeah you know we take advantage of those opportunities we also with the app i mean we're currently in the middle of a rewrite of our way my truck app right now taking into consideration some of the suggestions that drivers have given us about being able to make changes to their payment method and some of their other account details right in the app instead of having to go to the website to do so oh that's great so in other words it's driver influence and driver inspired developments new developments absolutely and we have feedback forms on our website and we get contact us forms every day from drivers and we welcome that because we want to know how can we serve you better where do you need a scale what would you like to see you know different about the app or you know just what are those things that we can do better that is so good that's like having an ongoing focus group with with people giving you real-time input yeah where does that go just it goes to my email box it does and i decide who needs to act on it that is so great so i read every single one of them that is so that is so good and i'm sure the drivers uh they come to know that because whenever they see changes and it reflects you know it's like at freight works we really want to be a company that is inspired to make change based on what drivers are telling us they need and if a driver feels like you're listening it's a very positive thing isn't it it is and and that's what i think we want everybody to know is we're here to serve the driver and everybody that works for cat scale knows that from the technician at the help desk to the met crew that's out painting the scale and re-lamping the sign as they do every single year at every single cat scale that's incredible whether it's the calibration crew that's out there i mean everyone understands that we're here for the driver we're working for the driver and that's the focus now you know i want you to talk a little bit because you've been there how many years 20 28 28 talk about the culture of the company now you know you you said earlier that wow you've been there 28 years you know that speaks volumes about a company and it truly does because i'm working with people who have a lot have been there even longer some since the very beginning of cat scale itself what what brought them and what keeps them it's it's the family i mean we are a family we're a family run business we understand who we serve we're proud of where we work and we're proud of what we do for the driver and we all just enjoy each other i mean it's it's just a nice culture everybody knows everybody's families and kids and people hang out outside of work and that just makes the job so much better you know it's so interesting because as you're describing your company which is so vital to the industry it sounds a lot like freight works and i think one of the reasons why we have such strong strategic partnerships not vendorships is that when we find an organization a company that has the same values it's real easy to say we're just cousins to the family absolutely and and i think the other thing that helps us is cat scale is our our you know the moon family who owns cat scale company and also iowa 80 truck stop and trucker matt truck washes is our whole focus in everything we do across every part of all of our companies is focused on serving the driver right and focused on listening to the driver and making changes based on their feedback and that is the culture and if you buy into that and you believe that and you live it like i do and many others then you don't want to be any place else let me let me ask you this question and we we've asked it of a number of guests it's an industry that's disproportionately influenced by men and you're an executive and and a woman and have defined yourself incredibly talk a little bit about women that are interested in coming into the industry and what would you say to them i would say go for it i mean it's you know like i mentioned earlier i had no idea anything about trucking and i just gave it a shot and love it and you know it's really a family oriented business as far as lots of families are in trucking so you have generations of drivers who you know maybe they're the fourth generation driver in their family and i love those stories and i i love that because we're a company of generations we have you know families that work for us who maybe a parent and then a kid and now maybe a grandkid they've all cycled and they've all cycled through and you know you don't have a culture like we do and attract people and have them work with you for a very long time if it wasn't a place that was friendly and inclusive and i mean you wouldn't recommend your family to work there you wouldn't recommend your friends or your cousins or and we have a lot of that and and that just is i think that's what makes it so heartwarming and then the fact that we're families serving families and i just i love it and i've known there are drivers that come to iowa 80 or that i've known over the years that have come to trade shows you know here in louisville and i see them year after year and it's it's awesome you know what we're all growing older together right right time stop please exactly now because you've been in the industry as long as you have can you just paint a picture of what you see for the days ahead even outside of the unique niche that you're in what what do you see ahead uh technology just the rapid pace that technology what do you think like for drivers in the days ahead i think it's going to make their jobs easier in some regard um but i think there's a learning curve you know with all the technology coming on but there's so many cool things that i'm seeing i'm seeing trucks without mirrors and they're using cameras and that field of vision is so much better it's odd i'm sure you know we had a mirror eye demonstration at uh at freight works so that whole that's so interesting so that i mean just the other safety features that are that are existing now with the lane departure just like we're seeing on our cars you know and the the automatic braking and i mean that is helping the driver be safer and you know all of the things that i see with the the cameras and the forward-facing cameras to help drivers you know if there's somebody cuts them off or it's now recorded so it isn't always the driver's fault like used to be the default now we can say check the video right you know so those things and i just think that kind of technology is going to keep evolving and also all the apps and all the things that are right there on their phone or their tablet that help them run their business better you know if they're an owner operator or even if you're a fleet driver it helps you do your paperwork you know easier it helps you way you know faster it helps you stay in touch and communicate with your family i mean all of those things are wonderful advancements that's so good now i'm going to ask a question that i've always wanted to ask are you a monopoly do you have competitors we have there are probably 7 000 truck scales in the u.s and we have about 2 000 of those seven okay so there are a lot of grain elevators and different places that are also public scales that are open that that drivers can utilize but i would really say probably the biggest competition is a driver's choice to not weigh to think that they're just going to risk it and they're going to take their chances and they're like i've been driving for a long time i know exactly what this load feels like do we have any data on what percentage of drivers do like how prevalent is that that's just you know chatter that's talk but um but you do get people that do that well of course and drivers that are listening they know they know that people do that they've probably done it themselves a time or two be again because they're like i don't have time i don't have time but if they know that you're inviting you're efficient you've got tools and utilities that are going to help dissipate that fear or concern or anxiety then they're going to come absolutely and and it seems that you put a high value on making it even physically a nice looking place right you know it's you don't have dumpy catskill locations no no no talk about that for a minute so the other thing too is we wanted to make sure that we were visible so when we chose the colors to for our signs you know i look for the black and gold look for the black and gold well that is a high visible combination off the interstate and even at night too and i know we have the locator app and everybody's got their routing but if you just happen to be driving and not route using an optimizer or anything like that you know that they're black you know that that's a cat scale and and it was so important for us that we actually trademarked those colors so no other scale company can use that color combination we have it trademarked isn't that something that was somebody's brilliant marketing decision who did that that was our owner that's that's really really good now how about you for you personally what are you hoping for in the days ahead i am hoping that i can get to go home no in the days ahead i really think that um you know for drivers it's important for me to stay connected to drivers and not um get caught up of being in the office so the fact that our office is located at iowa 80 truck stop i can i go to the truck stop every single day you do i do and i walk through the truck stop and i look around and i say hi to people and i listen that's like your mobile office it is it is i go in every morning i get coffee i walk around i say hi to people and i just i want drivers to know that we're open to feedback and maybe we can't do everything that people suggest but when we get enough suggestions of one particular thing you can bet we're gonna act on it i have a marketing idea for you can we talk about it sure okay so i just think it might be interesting if life by the mile every so often called you when you were there at the truck that had you come on uh remotely and we get updates well we could do that we could certainly do that and also you know we've got our walcott truckers jamboree coming up in july the 14th through the 16th that would be a great thing to call and talk about that is wonderful that so you're still you're very involved in in all the marketing stuff in all of it yes do you have any new ideas that you can share that aren't private no okay you know what great marketing people aren't quick to share any of their ideas you know what let me ask you this you keep you after all these years you've kept an incredibly positive energetic attitude where did that come from how do you do that because some people it becomes familiar it becomes rote they just don't like their job anymore or something how has that happened for you because it's striking it really is well thank you i really think that it's because i get to do so many different fun things i'm involved in a little bit of everything and the nothing ever becomes mundane and if something does then that's my own fault because i need to be coming up with something new and fun you know i used to tell my employees that if you make a two circles and one circle is go work and the other circle is go play you wanted to make sure that the go play circle was enough in the go work circle that you were happy to be at work every day it seems like that skills and and just enjoy it and and if you don't then you need to find something else that you do love i mean because life's too short that is so good well you know what the mark of a good conversation is that they go really quickly give us one or two quick things if if somebody's not a cat scale customer why should they be they should be because you need to make sure that you're legal and we guarantee it so it's a no risk deal and it's easy it's fast use the app and it's it's cheap insurance i guess is the best way and again without going into the weeds too much talk talk about what it costs and how all that works to weigh it's twelve dollars and fifty cents and a reway is three dollars and like i said that's pretty cheap insurance that's very cheap and they're no surprises no surprises and if you're a fleet driver i'm pretty sure your company's gonna reimburse you for it or they're paying for it up front anyway that is that is so good well you know what as a we know you're the brand ambassador for cat scale but we want you to be a brand ambassador for life of the mile delivered by freightworks it's kind of our we know you've got a a house full of hats i'm sure it's our patriotic back there it's the life by the mile logo and so that's our gift great well thank you for being on today thank you and heather we uh we love our partnership with you we encourage everyone everywhere to get on board with catscale you've been a delightful guest today and we hope you've got a great set of days coming forward well i appreciate it thank you very much thanks so much thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by a trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more episodes click here and 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