Shain Ferriss

Interview by
Published on
May 18, 2022

In this episode...

Shain Ferriss has been living the #truckdriverlife. Even today as the president of his own company Greenmiles Inc., Shain continues to reminisce about some of the best places to drive through, his hole-in-the-wall food spot discoveries, and tips to both truck drivers and motorists so that we can all have a safe time on the road. In any capacity, being in the trucking industry prepares you for so much in life - it toughens you up as a professional, you become better at handling people, and your drive for excellence grows. The knowledge you gain and the experience you get give you courage, that whatever life throws at you, you just keep on trucking. Just like Shain did. Listen to Shain share his experiences on Life By The Mile, delivered by FreightWorks.

Shain Ferriss

President at Greenmiles Inc.


the motoring public needs to learn that when you're going to pass a truck by all means pass them but get it done yeah don't linger yeah yeah you get up there you know a third of the way into the truck to about two-thirds of a truck that truck doesn't even know you're there half the time you know get past them get it done and then get back over you know the last thing you want is some truck driver to be in a panic situation he checks his mirror and you're in his blind spot and all sudden now he's on top of you

this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks on butch maltby the host we'd love having the opportunity to talk to people that are involved in the trucking and logistics industry and our guest today is shane paris he's with green miles willard missouri welcome well thank you very much okay now shane we we always kind of just jump off the cliff conversationally and ask the question how in the world did you get your start in trucking and logistics well i was in another business in the automotive repair and um you know i had an unfortunate event where the shop that i had got broken into and we were basically put out of business you were yeah oh yeah a friend of mine was driving a truck and while i was trying to figure out what we were going to do he said well you know what i'm getting ready to take this run you want to go with me uh this is about an 800 mile 800 mile back run and i rode out there and ended up driving back you did just coincidence ended up being a truck driver really how long ago was that that was in 1998 okay um you know got my license went to work for a major carrier out of springfield missouri uh yet worked for them for about 13 years and then started my own company okay what kind of truck was it in that first trip that you took do you remember it was a baby blue volvo 610 with white racing stripes you know what everybody seems to remember the first truck when i ask old old truckers they'll just know in detail so that was your first trip all right and then you worked for a company yes i did and how long did you drive there i drove there for 13 years did about six months as a company driver about six months as a lease operator and then bought my truck and the other 12 years was as an owner were you doing over the road yes did you hit most of the states or uh every continental state yes okay i ain't figured out how to get to hawaii and never been to nobody's been able to do that yet for sure okay well tell us a little bit about green miles uh well we're a 100 owner operator slash lease operator company out of willard missouri which is right by springfield we specialize in refrigerated freight running mostly midwest and southeast we are 100 percent uh driver dispatched you know drivers decide where they go what they do when they want to work how much they're willing to work for and um you know we try to stay out of their way and hand them the reins to run their business and their life the way they want to see what you are is you're really kind of a facilitator for to help them just do everything they can do with excellence and efficiency yeah for the most part i like to say uh that we do everything i didn't want to do when i was a driver so that they can do everything they do want to do you know what must be so good is as somebody that's leading the company to have the experience of driving it's not like some people that run companies they've never driven before you know in a lot of ways it's very advantageous in other ways um you know you're coming out at some things from a driver's aspect whereas you kind of do need to have a business mindset um it's taken a lot to learn that business side because it's different than any other business i've ever been in right right and you know what for for a number of let's talk about owner operators for a minute a number of owner operators they they're not necessarily skilled at business i mean they they can drive and they love to drive and they love to make the money associated with it but they're doing the work they're not working on the business well they're great at operating the trucks and helping their fuel mileage they're great at managing everything you see while they're on the road but there's a lot of back office you know compliance and managing collections and everything else that goes along with running the company that owner operators company drivers the drivers just don't see that side of it and to be quite honest in my opinion you know if if they're out there working their system the way they want to they don't want to see that side they don't need to see that side of it you know it's it's something they would generally hire a service to so we just kind of said you know why hire a service when we'll just take care of everything you don't want to do for the most part yeah i would think uh how many trucks do you have going 20 okay and you got some diversity i'm sure in the drivers i mean you got women men yep yeah we don't discriminate for anything except for bad driving records and lack of experiences there you go talk a little bit about some of the unique challenges that owner operators have what are some of the hurdles that they got to deal with well uh there's several things that that drivers have to overcome we run primarily spot market we don't do hardly any contract freight at all so there is market dynamics that they have to learn they have to you know ride that roller coaster they have to realize the ebb and flow of the markets they have to basically learn to be a mechanic not necessarily saying that they have to work on their trucks but they need to understand their trucks so that if something goes wrong when they take it to a shop they've got an idea of what they're getting into you know when you pull into a shop and uh you know you don't know if you're getting a reputable shop or not when a guy comes out goes oh you need an engine because your truck's blowing you know black smoke if you're familiar with the mechanical end of the of the truck you can turn around tell me you know what black smoke is unburnt fuel it's not it's not oil uh let's look for a fuel problem instead of putting the new engine in the truck exactly right so they've got to be skilled enough to be able to do basic diagnostics and know how not to be taken to the cleaners yeah and that's part of what we do because i do have a mechanical background and our operations manager has mechanical background that's part of the services we provide is helping drivers manage some of the aspects that they're not familiar with are you are you are helping them to become familiar with it yes are you a tanker or a reefer what are you we are uh predominantly reefer we've got one guy that runs power only exclusively we've got one guy that runs uh logistics drive freight you know uh kind of concert stuff or trade show type stuff uh we've we're looking for another guy to do the logistics van type work but out of 26 trucks 24 of them are reefer okay and and what kind of loads of customers are you doing there uh we do being in southwest missouri we do a lot of chicken and cheese you do yes chicken and cheese those go well together in the right kind of sandwich right yes you got you got chicken and and cheese factories and stuff there or yeah we're right in the middle of a tyson and schreiber country okay all right so you got probably more work than you know what to do with uh yeah we we have no problem getting freight out of there at all okay talk a little bit because we're always interested to know talk a little bit about where you think the market is right now um i think we're really in a in an interesting place in the market right now about that um you know we're looking at we generally ride the the market dynamics and you know follow the the typical markets where you know end of the month end of the quarter into the year you kind of know when the when the peaks and valleys of the market are going to hit right now it's really confusing because i don't know what the thing's going on next i'm watching supply of equipment and that seems to me to be the biggest indicator of where the market's going and right now all of my suppliers are telling me that you know we can't get you equipment for a year year and a half you know whatever so i see a very strong market right now i don't really see an ease on the market in the near future okay okay and uh you'd base that on indicators like you just said yeah equipment and where do you think things are on the supply side well i don't think we're seeing much of a change in supply i think we've seen a lot of warehouses go up and a lot of warehouses are stocking stuff closer to the destinations i think we've kind of already gone through and filled a lot of that demand so we're not seeing the the rush to fill the warehouses that were over the last couple of years and we're kind of just keeping them replenished now so that demand has eased up but people are still consuming what's really interesting we had a guest on yesterday and he was saying that uh you know the 100 plus ships that were there off the coast in california there's been some redistribution it's like well let's go to charleston or let's go to you know where wherever so sometimes you're just moving the problem around you're not really solving the core issues right one of the big ones of florida one of the softest markets in the country we've seen an abnormal and abnormally high demand out of florida because they moved a lot of the ships right right they just kind of migrated uh from west to west to east yeah talk talk a little bit about uh your own let's get into your own driving experience uh and we're gonna shift gears a little bit uh where are some of the places you really enjoy driving um believe it or not i'm one of those weirdos that really enjoyed driving in the northeast you did okay talk about that that that is definitely an anomaly because i've had people sit in this chair and they are other chairs and they've said i love to drive anywhere but the northeast tell us about that it's a different culture up there you know and and i'm kind of uh well i might you either love me or you hate me i've got this kind of abrasive straightforward question or should i be prepared for something no okay no as long as you don't have thin skin you're good around me right it's just i'm really straightforward about stuff i don't i don't tend to candy coat everything and when i'm running up in the northeast i'm the kind of person that can take a harsh joke okay so 95 doesn't bother you up there not at all you know i mean for new york city for example i drove up there enough to know that as long as i went into new york city after nine o'clock at night they roll up the streets there's nothing in your way right you know don't try to go into manhattan in the middle of the day right exactly now let me ask you this uh so going north south east and west we'd love to ask people tell me about one or two hole-in-the-wall eating places that are good do you have any that you know everybody seems to have one or a couple uh hole in the wall eating places i love cooking from scratch up in a uh it's in missouri up close to sullivan i can't remember the exact town it's in some people remember the exit numbers it's it's been a few years for me i've been in the office for about five years now um you know i remember how to get to them yeah but i don't recall the numbers uh of course you got knicks catfish and barbecue down in arkansas they of course i think every truck driver out there knows that where's that one it's just a little ways east of little rock okay yeah they're they're a pretty incredible place they've got truck parking and all of that or yeah it's a victory park yes yes sir and if you get up in the northeast area kind of ohio and east there's a chain of restaurants out there called quaker steak and lube i'm a car guy yeah it's kind of a that that whole chicken wing hooters feel but more family oriented and more oriented around high performance cars and do they have some air oh yeah they've got lifts inside the building put cars on and have motorcycles hanging from the ceiling it's really cool so for people that are really into uh hot rods and roadsters and bikes and all that stuff it's a great place to eat and look oh yeah and if you're lucky enough you catch it on the right weekend and they'll have a big car show out in the parking lot incredible let's talk a little bit about in your driving experience did you ever have a serious situation did you ever have uh like you saw a major accident you saw stuff that was hard uh yeah i mean i was out there for you know 13 14 years driving yeah i mean i don't want to say i've seen everything but i've seen most of it um you know the unfortunate reality is we we live we live in a dangerous world we live in a date and we work in a dangerous industry uh you know that's why having saved drivers out there is absolutely so important because you know anything can happen at any point in time um you know i've i've seen probably the most memorable one was driving across pennsylvania when a truck driver went off the side of the road and drove down the side of a mountain oh no but yeah unfortunate fortunately about 15 minutes later he came walking back up so that's a blessing it was really scary at the moment but very very relieving when we saw him coming back up that's a blessing talk talk for a few minutes shane about uh the things that most people that are out there driving on the road regular drivers don't understand about trucks i mean they they create unsafe situations a lot of times they don't know things like braking distance and all that but talk you know if you were talking to a thousand regular drivers and and coaching them on hey you need to know some things about driving on the road when you're around an 18-wheeler what would you say um i'd probably say the two most important things is you know when you pass a truck get leave them plenty of room to stop it you never know what's going on i saw a video online just the other day a guy was passing a truck pulling a u-haul trailer and went to pull back in front of the truck and actually hit the front end of the truck the only going everybody i talked to said well he forgot he was pulling trailer i was like well you know it's a little 15-foot trailer if that 15-foot trailer hit that truck then he's way too used to cutting trucks off with less than 15 feet the other one i i really think is more important is the motoring public needs to learn that when you're going to pass a truck by all means pass them but get it done yeah don't linger yeah yeah you get up there you know a third of the way into the truck to about two-thirds of a truck that truck doesn't even know you're there half the time you know get past them get it done and then get back over you know the last thing you want is some truck driver to be in a panic situation he checks his mirror and you're in his blind spot and all of a sudden now he's on top of you right exactly and and people don't realize how long it takes they don't realize how heavy the truck is and how long it takes to stop right not at all i mean yeah and on ramps those are other things that are that's another one of my pet peeves people that you know think that uh going on an on ramp that everybody has to get out of their their way so they can get on the interstate it bothers me because drivers trying to be safe you know you're you're creating a hazard situation and not only that the when the driver has to hit his brakes to keep from hitting you while you get on the interstate at 45 miles an hour

it frustrates the driver the last thing you need is a frustrated driver right exactly let's talk a little bit about uh what you see in the days ahead for your company for uh green miles what what what do you hope to see in the years ahead well um we're anticipating and i hate to say this because i it kind of makes me feel like chicken little but we've been in such a strong market for so long right now the ebbs and flows of the market haven't haven't really happened the way they normally do so i'm anticipating a pretty healthy drop in market demand once capacity comes back online and i see a real opportunity for people that are planning for that in the near future if if you're jumping in this business thinking hey you know what this is the way it is not not that way at all right so i mean unfortunately there's going to be a lot of companies that came in with that mindset that are going to be going out of business and that's going to create a huge opportunity for those who've been saving to buy their equipment well and you know we had we had a guest on yesterday shane that was saying this is a great time for people that are good planners and they're conservative they're drawing down debt or they're you know making capital expenditures that are strategic but a lot of folks that came in and thought wow this is the way it is all the time it's just not it it's a brutal reality i tell people all the time the best time to join this industry is when we're barely scraping by because you learn how to survive right exactly talk a little bit about from your experience shane because we're always so interested in experienced drivers and entrepreneurs like yourself giving insights what what do you think makes for a good driver um determination a little bit of common sense really helps i mean to be honest i tell people all the time driving a truck is easy i can teach a monkey to drive a truck i can't teach a monkey to do it safely or do it profitably yeah any anybody can get behind a wheel and steer pay attention to everything else and that's where your success comes from yeah because you i've talked to some drivers before who have mentioned colleagues that are not not at freight works we take safety very seriously but they've talked about the fact that when you get an impatient driver or you get a driver who thinks they know it all like i i got this all nailed that's dangerous isn't it oh it's extremely dangerous uh

honestly i'd i'd love to find ways just to exterminate the industry of people like that yeah because it it really it really is serious and some young drivers uh come into the industry and they feel like hey you know what i got this nailed i got it all down and the drivers i love to talk to i got a dear friend bud byers he uh rode for 40 years with yellow freight he had more than 5 million miles he had no uh recorded accident along the way and he was just he was conservative he wasn't always just trying to get there so how do you teach that i don't know that you can i mean it it really does it really does help to have the right culture in your company uh it helps to have the right culture around the drivers that you're getting around i've noticed that drivers like that tend to tend to group together and you can kind of kind of find yeah they're rogue or they're reckless and they bind each other yeah and whereas the great drivers they tend to find each other so um honestly

cleaning the industry up from from dangerous drivers i i'll leave that to the law enforcement and the the market dynamics to kind of weed those out we just focus on trying to find the good ones exactly now shane talk a little bit about uh all the language and stories that are out there about a driver shortage do you think we have a shortage no i want you to explain that because you know the headlines will talk about major shortage of drivers then you get studies like the one that came out from mit that talked about the logistics you know people going there and sitting for hours and hours and hours i mean give give us your take on the whole issue of is there a driver shortage no i mean i can tell you right now um i see this industry and i see like driver recruiting and retention different than 90 of this industry drill down on that i want you to talk um my my opinion on driver recruiting and retention is the best way to recruit and retrain and and retain drivers is to take your recruiting department and your retention department and fire them all if you're worried about recruiting don't if you're worried about retaining you're too late you're trying to keep a crisis from happening that's already there take all that effort you are putting forward and put it into finding out what your drivers want what tools they need and provide them the environment that they want to work in if you provide a great environment for your drivers they're not going anywhere and they're going to bring you a lot of other good drivers right because what we find at freight works is that driver referrals are right up at the top you get a happy driver an engaged driver a well compensated driver driver that says i love this company turn them loose with the tools and they'll they'll bring you people right absolutely i mean we actually have a waiting list of drivers we can't get equipment fast enough to put the drivers in it and what is it that the drivers are saying to themselves and others about your company that gives them that appetite if we were sitting in a driver's lounge someplace and and somebody said hey have you heard about green miles what would be the kinds of things they'd be saying um you know we're we're atypical to the industry you know being self-dispatched uh we've they've got the freedom to do what they want to do and how they want to run their company we've got their backs whenever you know something goes off offline you know we don't automatically believe that the customer is always right you know you know i tell all my drivers hey you know what if you're having a problem with the customer call me and i'll make the decision whether you know the customer is right or wrong and if i have to fire a customer because they're wrong then that's the case you know sometimes not all business is good business is it no absolutely i mean and you have to be prepared particularly if you've got a really abusive customer and all of that you have to be prepared to say hey you know what this is not working for us no no our our most important our most valuable asset is our drivers and as long as we keep really high quality drivers they're worth a lot more than the customer is you know let's let's do this let's role play for just a second you're in the role that you're in i'm a driver that's got great potential you'd like to see me be part of the company but i've been playing it kind of loose for a little bit not doing it the way that i should i'm sitting in the chair you called me into the office you're the head what are you gonna say to me um you know butch well butch i'm kind of looking at your your driving history your on-time percentages you're not quite meeting our standards here um i'm not the type are you gonna fire me not immediately okay yeah i'm gonna tell you straight up hey this is our standards you're falling short of this if this continues you're gonna have to find another place to work i'm not going to cut you loose right now but i'm going to tell you you've got like 90 days probation wait what do i need to do to get better

well it depends upon on what you're doing i've been i've been late and i've not been communicating very well um we've got a team of people in the office to take care of that um you know if you're not communicating i'm gonna i'm gonna tell you hey you know this is our standard you know let us know when you arrive we've just invested what to me is a ton of money in a in a software system to help kind of create that workflow digitally for the customers to see you know all you have to do is follow and use the tools that we put in place if you use the tools that we put in place everything else works out if you don't use those tools then there's nothing i can do i i can't make you do your job i'm not out there with you okay well mr ferris i appreciate you being straight with me i'm going to work real hard and i hope that you'll see starting right now a change in my behavior because i really want to be in the company i i and i want you here i absolutely want you here um let's go ahead and move forward with that you know like i said we're going to really be watching you hard over the next 90 days right you know and as long as you do real well over the next 90 days we're kind of pro we're going to ease up then and you know let you go back to doing your thing but i expect you to keep that same standard great you know what i loved about what we just did it was clear the role of leadership is to define reality you made it clear you're not to the standard not going to turn you loose right away but you're going gonna have to be transparent communicative and accountable and that's that's the way it ought to be now let me ask you this so many drivers that come to freight works tell us i just feel beat up i wasn't valued i wasn't honored i wasn't told the truth i was promised every company says we're going to give you great home time you're going to get a great paycheck we're going to give you good equipment we care about your family everybody says that but we get so many people that come to us at freight freightworks and say i'm going to kick the tires because i've been told this before i don't really know if it's true or not do you find that too do you have drivers yeah we get that all the time and it happens on both sides of the aisles i mean to be honest with you there are a ton of companies out there that'll tell you anything they need to to get you recruited and there's a ton of drivers that'll tell you anything that they think you can hear to get hired yep i mean and a good company i've watched really good companies come in drivers that came off the road made their own companies and tried to set up something to keep drivers happy and build us something and they get enough drivers that are dishonest that it sours them on drivers to be honest it it's hard sometimes but you've got to decide who you are if you're going to be in leadership or of a company you have to decide that no matter how many people do you wrong it's not going to change who you are or your goal just like a driver if if you get a bad company man you you've got to realize there are good companies out there and if you're chasing you know you're just right really really off the wall promises you know you got people out there saying you know what we're gonna speaking from the owner operator side we're gonna lease you on or we're gonna lease you a truck and we're gonna put you know ten to fifteen thousand dollars a week on your truck every week you're gonna make you know five thousand dollars we could take home if it sounds too good to be true yeah it's you're you're setting yourself up for disappointment right exactly and uh you know what uh loyalty is inspired by keeping your promises treating people like people respect and honor and uh when that disappears when a driver starts to say i'm not sure i can trust the company you're in trouble aren't you right um you know i've i've always said you know people come to me and say you know i i don't want to tell you this but this is this is what's happening you know what tell me this is trucking things don't go right in about half the time right if there's something going wrong right just let me know as early as possible so that at least i can brace for the impact right you know i can mitigate my damage right and you know what's a shame we don't know each other except we've gotten to know each other a little bit here what you come across as is a leader in the company that's going to shoot straight people aren't going to have to wonder what you're thinking are they no that's that's that's one of my greatest assets and greatest uh liabilities you know what saying that shane ferris at green miles you're not going to have to wonder what he thinks you know what i call that that's a penetrating look into the totally obvious right you're somebody that's going to tell it the way it is uh shane let me ask you a couple of more quick questions the mark of a good uh interview and conversation as it goes quickly and we've only got a couple of minutes left here what uh if you were talking to some new drivers brand new drivers and you had 50 of them standing right here and you just wanted to give them some quick encouragement about what they can do to start their driving career well what would you say to them you're the coach what would you say to the team um while you're out on the road find things to keep you engaged find things to keep yourself educated get start listening to audiobooks find things it doesn't you don't even have to necessarily learn about the industry learn about business find an audio book about business find an audio book about creating connections and and you know learning people the more you learn people the more you learn how businesses work regardless of whether you plan on being in business yourself you'll learn how your employer thinks and you'll be able to provide a service for them regardless of whether you're a company driver or a business you're marketing yourself and as long as you can provide value then you will receive the compensation commensurate with that value you know shane i i i appreciate so much the fact that you're real you're authentic and you're transparent and we're really grateful that you came on today and we actually have a little gift i know that you probably have a closet full of hats this is a life by the mile hat it's yours got a little patriotic theme in the back we want you to be a brand ambassador for us so put that on at some point you know what people can also in the spirit of what you just said to be educated and alike you can also go to life of the make sure that you subscribe like comment and share you're going to hear great content like this it's a trucking company inspired podcast we believe the fastest growing in the country right now and it's because we have quality guests on like you this is shane ferris from green miles in willard missouri it's been just a pleasure to have you on and be safe out there make sure that you stay in touch with us and i'll i'll get your number and i'd love to call drivers on on the road do you still drive or no um very rarely i do i do still occasionally go out if i have a driver in a situation and the load needs to be rescued i'll go that is great see even that i mean that's participatory management that's what we call servant leadership it's like you're not telling the fighter pilot hey go shoot down the plane sometimes you'll say hey here's how you do it i love that that's that's good good leadership to do that we wish you all the best with your uh company and just real quickly have you come to mats before yes i actually had 10 mats every year for the last 10 years except for the last two that it hasn't happened okay okay and what do you like about mats just real quickly as we end about half of what the reason i come is really just connecting with other industry professionals uh meeting drivers kind of you know it's a lot it's a lot of networking i also like seeing a lot of the new um products that are a lot of shiny innovations man i love to be able to see where things are going right right it's it's looking up around the uh the curve here well we hope you have a good day today and this is life of the mile delivered by freightworks i'm your host butch malthy and make sure you tune back in every week thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest 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 the channel by clicking here we'll see you there

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