Josh Farmer

Interview by
Published on
October 20, 2022

In this episode...

To celebrate Life By The Mile’s 100th episode, we sit with FreightWorks President Josh Farmer to talk about leadership, listening to truck drivers, and using technology to move your company forward. Josh also emphasizes the importance of building a family culture and honoring commitments as some of the main reasons why FreightWorks has seen growth, especially with driver recruitment as of late. Truck drivers, company owners, and trucking enthusiasts - join us as we celebrate the 100th episode of Life By The Mile, delivered by FreightWorks.

Josh Farmer

From raising rabbits as a business at age eight knowing the “power of multiplication and profits” to later becoming a distinguished student, lawyer and serial entrepreneur...his launch of Freightworks shouldn’t be a surprise.


when we make a commitment we want to fulfill it we don't mind being held to that commitment and if we fall short in any way I want that pointed out it is critical to what we do to make sure we deliver on the commitments that we make welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of America's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by Trucking indicted to tell stories

all here right now it's like by the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch Walton and you know what we've got a very special opportunity an episode today real quickly make sure that you subscribe to the YouTube channel you know that all the audio platforms for podcasts you can find life of the mile help us grow the audience would you and like share engage make comments it's incredibly difficult just because you're in so many different places Josh farmer founder and president of freightworks to get you in the seat and you have no idea how happy I am well Butch I appreciate the opportunity I mean I am I am incredibly pleased with what you and your team is is doing with this podcast effort I think it's a very valuable effort for Frey it works it's a it's a I view it as a valuable effort for us to be able to authentically tell our stories and for people to be able to see our heart and be able to see us you know in the genuine nature that we are as we as we show our existing stakeholders and then potential stakeholders future stakeholders whether it be drivers or industry Partners who we are and what we do outside of the ads and the recruiting promises and things of that nature well you know what's so interesting Josh is from that early point when God put in your heart to start a company and it was a biodiesel company and then you were on an auction online and truck number one came out of that has grown this asset-based carrier that God is really blessing here in Western North Carolina and if you had the opportunity uh and and I hope that you do someday although your time probably won't accommodate it to hear the stories of staff and drivers who sit in that seat and talk about what they love about this company the values and the principles that guide it are clearly coming through and it's been a real blessing and a joy to to hear that well I I Butch I enjoyed listening as I can and as I said I have a view that's a very important effort and communication tool of our company and as you mentioned this is certainly something this Enterprise is something we feel like God has led us to do we feel like it's part of our calling our mission that he's given us for our life as part of our Outreach to others and you know we're we're incredible I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity I'm incredibly proud of the group of people that I have an opportunity to work with every day I am incredibly blessed to co-labor along with this group because we've got an outstanding group of people here that are very dedicated there are very few times during the year where that entire group comes together on site the way that it just happened on September 17th at the annual freightworks barbecue and I've been instructed by the way especially in North Carolina it's pork barbecue we don't we don't just say barbecue generically although admittedly and perhaps a heresy to some we had an incredible beef brisket there as well but we had chopped Port barbecue yes but so we're we we had a wonderful time on Saturday as as we've been doing for quite a number of years we have company barbecues where we have an opportunity to pull together as many people as possible unfortunately of a company of our size and nature and the nature of our operations it's never possible to get everyone together you know at this point we've got over 225 Associates throughout the United States we includes teams in the Philippines and Columbia South America and also Brazil we we're excited to have an opportunity of several members of our Colombian team who are actually here with us on Saturday I think our our total attendance was more than 340 people and I think at least 80 employees as I counted were were at the event so we're just really excited to see everybody people many people had an opportunity to bring their friends and family we we opened the event up essentially to any connection to a freightworks employee we also had an opportunity to invite a number of members a number of members of the community who have had interaction with freightworks you know for example a key stakeholder a key party that we've been working with the town of Spindale we're working on some real estate department development projects which we'll get into shortly and they had their mayor was there and we were excited we're excited to see him also our County economic development director uh was able to come toward the end of the event and she's somebody we've been working closely with and we were excited to see her well and you know what the thing that I I think is so interesting is is when freightworks says it's a family Josh and so many companies in the marketplace will say that they'll say we're going to pay you well you're going to get good equipment you're going to get home time and you're a family you really mean it I mean as the the key leader of the company you're somebody that communicates regularly we are a family and that was a great opportunity for you to do something that was so important the role of leadership is to Define reality you went through some incredible summaries of updates can you tell us a little bit about that absolutely I'd love the opportunity to go through some of those again for the benefit of folks who are not there you talk you mentioned that we use the phrase that we're that we're like a family and we absolutely believe it a lot of companies use that phrase and certainly I wouldn't say that we're the only one who is that way but we we we would hope that we exemplify a family as a as a company with the way we that's what we aspire to we want to treat people the way they want to be treated and we we View we view the way we treat our Associates the way we people we work together as one of our most you know important missions of what we have to do you know our we we have customers they are important stakeholders in what we do but our our driver force and then our non-driver Force the folks that work on the admin staff and the folks that work on the maintenance staff are every bit as important as our customers in a different way it's a they're a different stakeholder base and there are folks who we have to work hard to make sure that we are meeting their needs I mean they have they have we need to be providing employment opportunities that are meeting their financial needs they're meeting their scheduled needs that are fulfilling to them in every aspect and you know Josh one of the things that we talk often about during different podcasts is that freightworks is a diverse company not everybody is a person of Faith but the reason this company was built was was on biblical Foundation questions and with a commitment as a company for example to keep our promises and it's not just saying we're going to keep our promises there's a why behind the what well exactly when we when we make a commitment we want to fulfill it and we don't mind being held to that commitment and if we fall short in any way I want that pointed out you know it's very it's very strong in my heart that it is uh critical to what we do to make sure we deliver on the commitments that we make well in the middle of the beef brisket in the pork barbecue you gave kind of a state of the union if you will so let's review that let's talk through some of that one of the things I mean uh you know I want to take the opportunity again here as I did at the event to thank the group of people that put this event together there were a large group of our internal folks and then even maybe some of their families and others who who went to a great deal of effort to put this event together Joyce Sakura LED that team and I'm very grateful for that one of the things we're excited to do is we had a giveaway for every one of our Associates we had a customized Freight Works duffel bag within also a Frameworks keychain and several other goodies different colors we had I think four or five different colors I like the orange one personally so that's what I got but we had an opportunity to give that out just as a small token of our thanks and appreciation I realize it's not a huge gift but nonetheless this was this is coming uh at the end of national truck driver appreciation week which was was celebrated and observed last week and you know we our our company barbecue coincided with that so the other things to note we were I'm very thankful for the sponsorship of the event of a couple of our vendors the peat store and Peterbilt are key commercial partners and they've become friends and we we've enjoyed their participation their attendance and their support and we and we bought trucks from them we've just we are in the middle of receiving a 75 truck order of the new Peterbilt 579 Ultra Loft they've they've become a key partner in helping us find helping us Implement a an industry-leading uh in product for driver satisfaction specifying that truck to meet our needs to meet the needs of our driver Force other company sponsors that that help contribute to the event include loves and carotrans cold and also xguard Freightliner of Hickory so things we were talking about we were talking about that new truck order the some of the compelling features benefits of this new truck for drivers and the company include one of them for the company is fuel economy right you know we're we want to we certainly want to be good stewards we want to be good stewards financially we want to be good stewards environmentally and so certainly to the extent that we can improve our fuel economy everyone wins and you know for the the trucks that these uh these new Peterbilt 579s uh are feature for feature uh comparable if not dramatically better than the trucks they're replacing and yet uh are we're seeing the average fuel economy go from about six miles to the gallon for the trucks they're replacing to an average of 7.45 and climbing which multiplied is significant it's huge I mean the the fuel savings alone in an environment of 450 a gallon diesel fuel pay for half the payment on the new trucks and and then the other aspect another aspect would be maintenance you know as many uh the the as many know obviously as a truck gets older its running costs its maintenance costs increase and so we have now loaded up these new trucks with warranty so we're going to be able to keep them under warranty for the entire time of our projected ownership which is four years and 500 000 miles and so we're confident this is going to help us in improve our maintenance costs and also give us more predictable maintenance costs as we go forward certainly on the driver benefit side you know we're being it's an incredibly attractive product for drivers to be seen in it's a it's a great image for freightworks to be able to project the driver's report that they're thrilled with the ride and the functionality of this truck uh you know we I can't say that I've heard I mean the the negative comments have been very few and far between it's not that they're without any problems we've gone through a few teething problems on a few different things a couple of a couple of the drivers had been working with our shop to tweak programming issues and and other things to make sure that we're given the drivers the best experience possible I think we've got I think that last count at least 37 of those new trucks on the road we're expecting so out of an order of 75 that would be another 38 will go on the road in the next 60 days with that beautiful new livery the new logo and all yeah we're excited about that new delivery sort of with the accent stripes and the large Shield symbol uh we find that to be very distinctive and we're we're very happy about that we've at this point uh we've got more trucks on the road than we've ever had in in company history I think we've got about 126 seated trucks out of about a hundred and well about 135 or 140 total we expect to see that number to grow we expect to see Fleet growth in Q4 and in q1 as we're coming up I expect the number of seated trucks is going to rise closer to the 150 Mark over the next six months one thing that I've been appreciative for is the efforts of our recruiting group Jordan Kidd reg Moody Isaac Guerrero and then assisted by the Life by the mile group you know Butch and William you and William Butch the um we've got we've had a lot of success and Traction in the recruiting space in the last 90 days I think we've been able to increase driver head count by nearly 15 drivers in the last 90 days and that is encouraging we we like a lot of trucking companies experienced some headwinds in recruiting during the last 24 months and sort of during the covet era when there was a lot of uncertainty in the market and in the driving for in the driver Force we at this point we're we're excited that the product we're offering the work conditions we're offering the pay package we're offering the the equipment we're offering it's providing a compelling value property it's all coming together the compelling value proposition to our drivers admittedly we still have some older trucks on the road that we're in the process of replacing it would be our goal to replace the very vast majority of those by next year I don't think we've announced it we can talk about it here first today we met with Peterbilt and that the peat store specifically our dealership on Monday to place an order for an additional 50 trucks in 2023 to be delivered throughout the year so at that point by the end of that order we'll have 125 new trucks on the road out of you know perhaps out of a fleet of 150 and some of those some of the non-new trucks that we would be retaining or maybe in special applications so we're looking forward we're looking forward to completely exciting the completing this Fleet transition that's a blessing other things we talked about that we that have occurred in the last 12 months have included a relaunch of our liquid bulk tanker Division and something we've done in the past that we stepped away from from a couple years we've moved back toward so we're we're we're not doing food grade but we're doing chemical tanker work and at this point we've got one customer we're working for that's hauling from North Carolina to Texas and with a with a fleet size of about six or seven trucks we're talking to several other of our existing customers ExAlta comores and Sherwin-Williams about additional tanker opportunities and we hope to work on growing that Fleet the you know other things we've done on the driver compensation side there's been a number of raises for various fleets in the past year we've I'm particularly happy that we significantly improved our 401k plan starting on April 1st of this year there's a much bigger company match uh you know I that we're very pleased to be able to contribute toward you know help help our drivers and it will help all of our Associates save tax free or tax deferred for retirement the other key initiatives going on right now we're in the process of replacing the ELD equipment our in-cab computer equipment we're moving away from blue tree and moving toward platform science which is an industry leading open architecture platform that gives us more flexibility in even be able to or to install additional apps on top of that to provide additional functionality so we're in the process of installing those through the fleet and then also integrating those with our McLeod transportation management system our core software that operates the company we're also in the process of a significant McLeod software upgrade that's something that we do every two or three years it typically takes is probably the prod that that Project Life Cycle is probably at least a year it's at least six months in planning and then another six months in execution and so we're well down that road looking to implement that upgrade you know Joshua November real quickly on this it's been so interesting because freightworks has always had a heart and I know that it's been your heart to find ways to use technology to enhance what we do that's right we want to use technology to be efficient we want to use technology to make to make things easier you know to to assist in the workload whether it be our drivers or folks in the maintenance shop or folks in the office we want to use technology to streamline and improve communication and so in it certainly not to say that our that our technology stack is without fault but as we continue to improve and upgrade it we're seeing benefits in in each of those areas another thing that we've done is speaking of technology or feedback or communication in the last year we've partnered with workhound which gives a channel for our drivers to provide feedback good feedback negative feedback obstructive feedback it can be anonymous if they wish and that's been a very valuable tool for us to understand cares concerns of our of our driving force I know for each comment that provides sort of a negative or constructive criticism Senior Management goes back and reviews those and reviews that with operating staff and typically we'll also communicate back even if it's Anonymous can message that person back through the platform asking for more feedback and so that's been a very valuable tool for us because we want people to be we want to encourage feedback we want to know what's going on and an encouraging thing for us is work out and tells us workhound works for a with a number of other trucking companies throughout the country and they tell us that that we have an industry-leading driver satisfaction score among our peers in their system now again we're always working on making that better and we always can get better but you know to give credit where credit's due there's a lot of satisfaction out there we want to we want to increase that uh we gave some customer updates but and this is a good opportunity to to reiterate that and it's an opportunity to thank you know various groups that have a hand in these things you know for example a couple of notable achievements the the dedicated Commerce Fleet has is on a string of I think 14 months of a hundred percent on-time delivery when you're looking at carrier controllable on-time delivery message which is unusual you know they're absolutely it's unusual you know there are certain things that are out of our control you know maybe weather events or ship or caused events or things of that nature but we work very hard to serve that customer and its customers to serve comores and its customers well you know particular thanks for that achievement goes to you know Misty Chapman Howell in the customer service department uh comores is her customer Arthur Almeida in the planning department because he's also he's planning those loads they have a key hand in making sure that's executed we've got several driver managers that are involved in that account and it that we're we're very pleased with that and in fact you know the during the beginning of that streak comores had selected us as their gold carrier of the year last year I understand they're going through the selection process for that award this year and we're hopeful that we have an opportunity you know for our drivers and uh you know staff's efforts to be highlighted again this year the we had a update with Dole so Commerce would be our largest customer Dole fresh vegetables would be our second largest customer Misty and I and Joyce had an opportunity to speak with senior Folks at Dole in the last month about State of Affairs state of the relationship there was nothing but good things that they had to say about how we service them we we are their largest outbound carrier from their Bessemer City North Carolina facility essentially that's a salad bagging facility they haul raw product into that facility process it bag it there and ship it out take a grocery distribution centers and so we're we're their largest outbound carrier we're typically going into the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast and we've got a 98 percent on-time delivery score year to date again for Carrier controllable events and as many of our folks many people that listen to this podcast will know Dole schedules are often they're they're particular and they can be demanding and that to it to achieve a 98 on time delivery score given given the requirements that those it reflects a lot about the team's effort it reflects a huge commitment and we're grateful about that and endola is rewarding that commitment with the award of additional Lanes I think we've got um maybe three new southbound Lanes from Bessemer City into Louisiana that we're going to become the primary carrier on uh starting at the beginning of November that will typically be run by that dedicated commercial Fleet it'll be matched with Commerce Freight and we've also just had an opportunity to bid on another significant increase in Freight from Dole we'll hope to hear in the next 30 or 45 days great we you know we get consistent scorecards from Driscoll berry company and ExAlta Coatings company which are other key significant customers of ours and we're we're consistently graded among their top performers I think we're exalta's biggest carrier year you know we're in we're one of the key core asset-based carriers for Driscoll's uh we could also highlight a few additional accounts that we've added in the last year lint chocolate you know I told folks we we had the opportunity for an overage of uh everyone was so happy Josh of Ghirardelli chocolate that came on a truck recently yeah it was pretty good chocolate I enjoyed it it's it's in all the refrigerators it is it they also JBS meets I understand JBS is one of if not the largest Meat Company in the world they operate under a number of different brands but we're hauling out of their Lenoir North Carolina Facility have just been awarded at least three new Lanes out of there and I hope that we're able to replicate some of what we do with Dole with consistent outbound North Carolina Freight out of Lenoir for JBS also we've added uh I think in the maybe in the last year Turkey Hill which is a dairy an ice cream producer in Pennsylvania we've also had the opportunity to sample some Turkey Hill ice cream which was a overage from time to time yeah but you know looking ahead some of the things we talked about we we were excited to update folks on Saturday about efforts on a potential new terminal so we've we've Acquired and control a significant amount of property at the intersection of 221 and 74 U.S highways within Rutherford County probably the key interception very very strategic in our County that in the past has that particular introduction has had obstacles to development due to utility availability and we've we've been able to solve some of those obstacles and we're very excited to announce that at this point we expect loves we'll be building a truck stop on the northeast corner of 221 and 74 on property that they are buying from us a mile away this is just a mile from where we sit at this point it is projected that they would close next month in October of 2022 and it the the projected timeline would be uh commencement of construction in January of 23 and an opening in July of 23 which is that's a fairly aggressive construction schedule they expect they're going to have a restaurant concept there they've mentioned that perhaps that may be a Bojangles I think they project having something close to 60 truck parking spaces so I know a number of the number of our drivers are excited about having a loves option so close to the home terminal and more is going to be developed well we so loves is just the tip of the iceberg and we think that's going to create a lot of opportunity for other commercial businesses who are going to want to co-locate in that area be it Hospitality or restaurant or perhaps grocery Self Storage perhaps residential there's a number of different aspects there that I think are going to be exciting so we we still have in the plan to develop a terminal in that area which at the moment is is slated to potentially be on the northwest corner of that intersection across 221 from loves it's possible that could change to a different spot in the development but we're going to see how this development grows out and see where the best place is for us to to put an expanded terminal so we're we're excited about that opportunity that's something that that we've well you and I both have been working on a lot over the last year you know Josh in the midst of all of that uh there was tremendous Fellowship on Saturday there was incredible food we had one of the people out of the shop that got up at two in the morning and Eddie Gaskin I really appreciate his efforts because he was cooking barbecue at 2 A.M I think they cooked I think they cooked 200 pounds of of pork butts in another 100 or 150 pounds of beef brisket and along with hot dogs and and other things I know a number of people you know made homemade macaroni and cheese or squash casserole and I think my wife Andrea said she spent so much time with the squash casserole the day before she came home smelling like onions and squash well you know what we all left though with the the aroma of incredible fellowship and that dessert table I was trying to describe to people it was 20 feet long it was it was there was uh there was Desert a plenty there but the fellowship was among the best parts and I enjoyed going around and being able to speak with as many people as possible it's not often that I that we have the opportunity to see that many people face to face I was able to meet several folks that I had not been able to meet before and that was the exciting thing for me had a chance to have a few private meetings for folks with folks and overall the the the the reception from our you know from our Associates here the reception from their friends and family and you know other key stakeholders holders in the community was very positive so I think it was a it was a great event we really enjoyed it we are grateful for the opportunities he's given us absolutely we want to be faithful stewards with the opportunities he's given us we want to be you know faithful stewards of the relationships that he's given us with the the workforce that we have with the customer force that we have and we've the the trucking industry can often be cyclical and it goes through its ups and downs but we've we've we're honored with the relationships that continue with us you know be at the workforce and the customer force and look forward to the time ahead this is life of the mile delivered by freightworks I'm Butch malpe your host this is Josh farmer he's the founder and president of freightworks if you came to the barbecue you know it was rich and if you weren't there we wanted to try to bring that experience to you now listen we want to make sure you subscribe to this YouTube channel make sure that you go to the audio platforms like share and subscribe we're trying to hit a thousand subscribers in the next 60 days so help us do that and if you're a driver and you want to kick the tires and come to better understand why freightworks might be a good home for you just reach out to us somebody on the recruiting staff would be glad to follow up Josh I'm so grateful that you took the time but thank you we appreciate it thanks everyone 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 make sure that you subscribe to this channel by clicking here we'll see you there


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