Silas Freitas

Interview by
Published on
December 24, 2021

In this episode...

Silas Freitas is the Dispatch Manager for FreightWorks and spends each day coordinating, supporting and leading the company’s vibrant team of Driver Managers. The ecosystem of trucking and logistics is ever changing and sometimes chaotic. Keeping a focus on driver safety, customer satisfaction with an unshakable commitment to improve is a tall order. this episode we’ll hear from an energetically committed front-line transportation manager how real solutions improbably emerge from seemingly impossible challenges. Listen and learn!

Silas Freitas

Silas Freitas is the Dispatch Manager for FreightWorks and spends each day coordinating, supporting and leading the company’s vibrant team of Driver Managers.


so uh yeah when Oliver's playing with trucks you know he calls me and says daddy josh didn't drop his trailing Gastonia he's actually over here in Jonestown bobtail then he's playing with his trucks he's been listening to you yes

life by the mile delivered by freight works is your 30-minute weekly podcast adventure you'll hear the hearts soul and passions of those who keep america moving join us we're ready to roll in this episode of life by the mile delivered by freightworks we have silas freitas he's the dispatch manager and he's going to give us an incredibly interesting insight into how he manages a team of eight driver managers challenges that they face why he loves this company and will even get to hear a little bit about bria and oliver his little family it's a it's just a heart warming story and we know you're going to enjoy it you're on life by the mile it's so great to have you here thanks for having me butch of course and you know what i always feel i have to say this a little bit guilty whenever we have somebody that's on the front lines of dealing with all the things you deal with every day to take even 30 minutes to come for these podcasts but you said it was going to be okay i know you care for your drivers and for your driver manager team so uh let me let me start out by asking you this how in the world did you get to freight works oh that's actually a very interesting and informal kind of thing the way you know everything developed i was working for a local cabinet shop here in town i was actually the foreman i was running the floor i absolutely loved it and then one day i was talking to josh farmer he was just asking how's your work going and i think it's going great you know i just wish i could make a little bit more and uh we kind of started talking about what i did how much i paid and then at the end of the conversation he goes would you like to come work for me i'm like me i don't know anything about trucking i'm a foreigner and all i've done in the states is construction um more specifically uh cabinetry and he goes well we'll teach you my okay and uh that's how we started that is so that is so great and you know what you know what's uh we have this in common you know how much i know about trucking and logistics nothing but you know what's great is every person that goes on comes on as a teacher for me and and drivers of course love to tell you what they know yes and as soon as you tell them i don't know anything they'd love to kind of fill that that void well uh how did you start where did you start what were you doing so i started uh literally at joyce's and jordan's elbow it was kind of a funny story because the building where we were it was a quite small and when they hired me it was kind of like last minute so i didn't have a desk so joyce was sitting here jordan was here and i literally put a chair in between the two of them and i was trying to suck out every bit of information i could from the both of them okay now of course he's referring to joyce sakura who's now the vice president of operations and jordan uh he was the load planner back he was the load pointer back then and one of the things that if you've been following this podcast you you've seen is uh if you need to peel potatoes you back in the day you peeled potatoes if you need to mow the lawn if you need to be on the phone if you need to broker loads but out of that grew a lot of experience and you learned a lot from them and then what happened so um i joyce literally took me under her wing and she was teaching me how to be a driver manager that was her primary goal for me is to take care of the drivers know what the driver's needs and wants and see it too that it happens you know to the best of our uh ability and so i would literally just sit and kind of like inch close to her so i couldn't hear what the drivers were saying so i could you know hear both end of the conversation and so you were getting a lot of on-the-job training yeah you were hearing the conversations what they were saying asking right situations uh how the problems were solved okay it was a uh quite the experience was a total different lingo i didn't know what bobtail was what trailer you know reefer i have i was totally clueless so i would have to ask her what is that what did you just say i don't understand explain this to me and she took the time to explain it to me and then it's a whole language it is it is um and it's actually one of my challenges these days whenever i go to explain to somebody from my homeland which if you guys don't know i'm from brazil english is my second language so when somebody back home asked me you know what do you do i'm like i don't even know how to say these things in portuguese you know it's it's totally different right um but then joyce actually got me started with a couple of her drivers that have a lot of years of experience and i basically picked up the phone and said i've i'm brand new at this industry i don't know anything can you just talk to me and we would have conversations that were 30 45 minutes long um just chatting about life of a truck driver what they were doing what they were seeing and um after a little while those were my four first drivers that i managed obviously i was still under joyce's wings she was teaching me you know the nuances of trucking and uh from there just kept growing um a few years later i actually was um managing a whole team of the dole fleet which which is a a strategic partner of great works it's not we've talked about this in other episodes it's not just a uh we're not just a vendor we're a partner for that yes absolutely um and we have a whole you know team of drivers dedicated just to that account it's you know mostly night driving so um all of my guys i mean they all have my cell phone number back from back in the day where i manage them we were friends you know we would talk about life and children and schooling and healthcare or whatever you know it's just like hey buddy how's your day going today and we developed a real close friendship you know between drivers and me as their driver manager and then it kind of kept the dough fleet cap growing to where i was actually man planning and managing the fleet i was doing the load planning aspect as well as the driver man manager aspect um now seals real quickly yeah we have people that understand trucking and logistics and others that are becoming subscribers to youtube that don't know that by the way real quickly make sure if you haven't done it you hit that click button click the button and subscribe explain to people the difference between load planning and driver management so the best way i can see this my own my own perspective is you have to have kind of like congress and senate right both of them are designed to have counterbalances so a low planner's main goal is to make sure that your customers are serviced and the whatever loads they have are being run the driver manager takes care of the driver's perspective listen i need to stop and take a break i uh my my my clock is running low you can't put a load on me i'm gonna take a reset um you know i got vacation coming up next month please remember to tell the lord planner not to book a load for me so you have to have both parts to work together so that you don't have drivers complaining i don't have loads or drivers complaining you guys are running me to the ground or the customer saying you guys aren't running my loads what's happening i'm gonna have to find another carrier so you have to have both parties working together to keep customer happy driver happy and office people happy too you know i heard someone say one time that it's a little bit like uh having the load planners and the driver managers it's it's like having germans and french talk to each other you know it's a different language and you know the load planner may say oh the customer said it's got to be there we got to get it here are the details and the driver manager is trying to be what we call an ombudsman or a representative for the driver saying they're worn out they got their dog died other things

but in that if you have respect and trust absolutely out of that grows the solution it seems for the drivers yes yes and that that's how we've we've you know freight works has grown i've been with the company since november 2017 and uh we've grown considerably ever since and i've grown with the company and learned a lot and thanks to the drivers really you know those 30 45 minute conversations that i had and i was you know just told them look i don't know this industry you have you know you guys are gonna have to teach me and uh everybody that i ever said it to they were very respectful they took the time they didn't think oh this new kid don't know what he's doing you know let's run over no that was never that attitude great people here great people you know it's so interesting silas because and folks you've seen this if you've watched these episodes of life by the mile delivered by freightworks there's really a spirit of respect yes and a deep value for people that grows up out of a frankly a biblical foundation for how the company does what it does and so so many of the drivers when they come in they may have been beat up at other places they haven't been told the truth promises haven't been kept they're a little suspicious some have even said butch i've been suspicious just to see is this really the kind of place that it says it is but across the board there's a it's not perfect but there's an attempt to do it the right way isn't that true yes we try hard and my my motto is i'm always going to be 100 honest and that's the one thing that i've learned that you know drivers tell me you know what i like you i'm like no i don't know what i'm doing you know i'm still new to this industry how do you like me so much and they told me because you always speak the truth we can know that 100 you're gonna tell us black and white what it is what's going on and why we're doing it and then it's easy once both parties know why we're pursuing the goal it's easy for everybody to get on the same page and get it done and uh you know by just being honest saying hey i don't know this what do you think and hash things out then we got things done and then the driver was happy uh the customer is happy and that developed the trust because they knew i wasn't lying to them i wasn't trying to paint a story i just gave facts and once we know what we you know we what our goal is it's easier to accomplish it together you know it's heartbreaking to hear some of the stories that you hear we we have a new driver i won't mention his name who came in from another company it's a name that would be known and he told me the story about being up near the canadian border in maine and the back wheel had no traction and it was dangerous and he called his driver manager and they said you got to go at least 60 more miles and he was just talking about the fact that he knew when he got back from that trip it was going to be time for him to leave look for another company he's come here to freight works and he loves it talk a little bit about your team talk about the team that's there doing what they do that you have management responsibilities for so right now i have the dispatch uh manager position so how many of those are there so i have um eight people on the floor on first shift so we have a otr load planner and the driver managers for that fleet otr coast to coast and then we have the camaro's load planner and the driver managers for that fleet the kamoors is the you know mississippi and tennessee big shippers going all up and down the east coast and then we have dole doe has continued to have one driver manager who is also the low planner because it's such a dedicated run it kind of makes sense so we have eight people on the floor on first shift um and then we have you know uh our customer service department in shelby which is not what i manage but you know without them we wouldn't be what we are um and then we also have two uh dispatchers on second shift and we have one um one or two dispatchers of knights that cover the third shift position so it's uh so 24 7. we have 24 7 coverage so anytime a driver needs something they can call the phone knowing somebody's going to be awake and alert to take their phone call syllabus go ahead for people that are listening uh on podcast platforms or watching on youtube go ahead and paint the picture the kinds of things that you have to deal with every week so uh my little office by the way is right around the corner there from the the driver manager so i hear all kinds of things and sometimes it's like the weather comes in and you just have hail and i mean literally and metaphorically everything hits it once and everybody's solving a problem but help people understand just the pressures that are dealt with by your driver managers and ultimately you every day describing my job is one of the toughest things i've ever been asked because every day is different um every day brings a new set of challenges you never know what the weather is going to be like you know what uh crashes are going to be on the interstate that you know the interstate is closed for eight hours and the customer is saying oh you gotta get there now or else i'm gonna charge a 250 rescheduling fee and it's like so we're sending pictures of the of the new head news headlines you know uh fatal crash on i-80 and delay for x miles and we have to document all of that and send it to the customer same thing with the weather delays we're dealing with that in northern california that's the big weather we're dealing with that today actually we have uh several loads i believe five loads that need to be picked up out of northern california right now all of our trucks are in nevada all the otr trucks that would have been picking up those loads are in nevada you can't get over dollars pass the alternate routes that you have to do you're going to have to add about 600 extra out of route mileage and the customer is saying i'm not paying for that mileage or and then the driver is saying well i'm not going unless you pay me and then the driver says well it's too dangerous to change i don't feel comfortable we totally respect that um so it's every day is a different set of challenges weather accidents shipper delays people being held up at a shipper you know they show up and oh it's gonna be seven hours before you get the product ready people didn't show up too low today you know and so you got three people loading whereas a full crew would have been eight so what happens the driver gets stuck right and then the receiver is yelling and screaming like i'm shutting down production where are you guys well we're trying to leave the ship right you know um and two trying to take care of the drivers um we're really big on uh safety make sure that the drivers feel comfortable with what they're doing make sure that they're not overly exhausted um you know sometimes i literally ask the driver when was the last time you you took home time you know when was the last time you saw family i mean family is important right and uh i'm you know make sure that they have a personal life that they take care of their personal life that they have time to do laundry to buy groceries so they're not having to eat at truck stops every single day um and you know there's a meme everybody in truckee has seen it these days you know where there's water up to the hood of the truck and this patch is calling i need you to get there and sometimes that's you know the things we struggle with you know the drivers and dispatcher on the same page we know what's happening on the ground but the receivers and brokers everybody's saying i gotta have it now and we're like unfortunately we don't provide helicopter service you know so well and you know what it's it feels it it's an urgent kind of business isn't it yes i mean every it's and it's not as simple as point a to point b and you know i i have to admit this folks coming into this new myself uh less than a year ago uh it used to seem like well you just put it in the truck and you have it drive but then you realize you've got weather you've got mechanical issues you've got the human factor you've got receivers and all all the likes here it's really a lot of problem solving yeah yeah and that's the one thing that uh for uh per perfectionist mind is like why can't we never solve the problems well every single day you get a different set of problems and at the end of the day you got to come up with different set of solutions you know um of of course we always uh strive from learn you know from our mistakes if we made any and we always trying to reach out for driver feedback to see what we need to improve like literally three days ago i called the driver and i said listen what do you think about your driver manager you know what do you like what do you dislike do does he or she need to improve and they were like i actually asked them i said look i'm going to sound like a news reporter but what is what is the main things that we need to do for your life yeah to be better yeah um and they said you know if you honor our hometime requests every time that is huge if you listen to us when we talk and we have a problem make sure that you give us the time and the attention we need and what do we you know if uh what was the third thing so getting home on time make sure that they are heard and make sure that everybody in the company knows what's going on so if you call in and saying hey i got home time tomorrow where i got a doctor's appointment coming in coming up in a week everybody knows make sure that that's in the computer everybody knows that way we don't have a surprise day before the doctor's appointments and you know we are always you know striving to get to that to where the drivers feel that they are heard and that we do what they asked us to do and well you know i was talking to a driver recently silas and i said you know freightworks wants to remember that when when that driver gets home it may be that through the window of the front door or little children looking at them yeah waiting for daddy or mom to come home and that that ethic of family is very much a part of what freightworks is all about talk a little bit if you can about the uh camaraderie between the driver managers just how was that team do they help each other out when they need oh yes yes talk about that a little bit uh i definitely encourage the the driver managers and low planners to talk a lot we actually have uh even some um we use slack for inter-company communications we have a chat called driver managers where driver managers low planners and myself are in there and that way if somebody hears of road closure we post in there you know road closure on i-80 near crashville tennessee if you know where i mean

and then we can call the drivers and say hey i see you headed to nashville you might want to take a detour um and even like um you know i've seen that especially whenever we hire or when whenever we hire a new driver manager we as in a group we always bring that new guy under our wings and we teach him how to run the software and then it's a very friendly atmosphere you know if somebody doesn't know how to do it hey i forgot how to enter this in the system can somebody show me and oh yeah we'll be right there so it's it's a lovely atmosphere it's it's like you said earlier it's it's a very fast-paced uh industry but as far as the people that we have running the floor we're all very good friends see let's talk a little bit about just some of the things that you've experienced this year what has this year been like in trucking um this year has been uh pretty different especially well starting last year with the covid uh that literally totally changed the industry um it's been extremely hard to get parts and shipping patterns have been affected uh drivers know it firsthand because of uh delays in maintenance even getting parts for you know if a truck breaks down or something you go you call the parts everybody is on national back order um so it's definitely become very challenging but we've been very blessed we got very dedicated drivers that really appreciate what we do and we all can see that they give their best and that's made the difference and having that kind of dedication and appreciation has brought us through kovit and we're still in business whereas a lot of smaller companies folded and i'm a firm believer that's because of the dedications and everything from the drivers and the driver managers everybody kind of stuck together and let's get through this and we're we're still getting through it well and what's interesting is a lot of people don't realize that 97 percent of uh if you look at all the trucks in america the three and a half million drivers or so 97 i think the data is is consistent on this of companies in america have fewer than 20 trucks yeah so that puts freight works even where it is we've got approximately 108 less than my company last week right and uh and we're all looking forward to that new peterbilt order 2022 for those of you that have been interested in that there are peterbilt new trucks that are on the way and you're going to be hearing more about that quick reminder folks if you haven't subscribed to life of the mile delivered by freight works hit that button subscribe share like make comments we're always interested in building that kind of community silos let me ask you this as you look at the coming year what are some of the things uh that you see like for example talk about technology the role of technology and helping you do what you do um well we live and breathe uh technology yeah dispatching these days is actually quite different i have talked to a couple of my older friends that did dispatch back in the day and they were dispatching out of binders and and maps i don't have paper in my office it's all computers i have three big old screens and well you know that's an apple one one of the things that is a stereotype about millennials which you are is uh they feel like everything can be done right here yes and uh i know i have a lot of friends that are millennials even as an old guy and uh and they'll often say i don't need paper for anything right but uh so okay so technology is really the background and the nerve center isn't it yeah of helping you do what you do yeah i mean we have we can have so much information so fast uh you know when you know we have a driver i'm having a hard time where are you you know we have gps uh signal on their truck that pins their location within a three to five minute error so we are quickly able to find out where is the driver try to look up we actually tell them you know hey if you stop in five minutes i'll have an exact ping on you and so you can pull up google maps and find out where the driver is actually get down there and see what the satellite imagery looks like and then say hey you need to turn left over here and that you know turn right over there and then you're going to be back on the highway i've done that plenty of times that's that's a lot different than it used to be years ago where it was like there's a big oak tree on the right-hand corner and four rocks make sure after the fourth rock you make a right-hand turn so it's changed it's changed that way and of course we're a mcleod partner as well yes and what does mcleod do for you mcleod is basically the brain of of the dispatch is the common language that we use between load planners and driver managers that's how we communicate where is the where the truck is going to be when it's going to be ready for a next load what kind of load it's under who is the customer how much is being charged i mean everything is like without mcleod without that software uh we'll be back going back to stoneage as far as i know i mean i don't see another way with us without a software that powerful i don't know how we would have managed uh to dispatch as many trucks as we do well and i was talking to somebody recently and the industry is really one defined by what the market wants is more better faster quicker or less yes and uh and so you're in a position uh in oversight here to try to help make make that happen but do it with the human equation absolutely it's not lost you know drivers it's so interesting s drivers here freightworks tell me i just can't believe people know my name i used to be a number i used to be a truck number and they were so beat up some of them when they come in here it's like i just felt like it was a commodity being pushed all the time with no care for my family right and that certainly is not our ethic and we believe frankly folks we're unabashed and unashamed to say it we've got a strong conviction set of convictions here that grow out of personal faith and that goes right to the founding of the company and josh farmer and papa ray and and others of us that are in positions of some influence i want to talk uh you know i always say this the mark of a good conversation is they go quickly and their time is escaping us yes yes i want to talk about the most important thing that i'm going to ask you about and that's about bria and oliver so tell us about your sweet family who i'm so blessed to know so as i mentioned before i moved here when i was 18 years old it was um 10 years ago actually and uh i was blessed the people that i came in contact with when i first moved here are still my favorite people in the world um josh pharma i've actually known josh farmer since i was a little bitty guy like three or four years old i've called his dad papa since i could you know first started speaking uh so we've we've been a very good family moved here went to gardner-webb university graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's in accounting actually got married uh exactly one month prior to graduation quickly applied for the green card entered the workforce um and then in 2017 that's when our little oliver was born and uh he's now four years old uh energetic kind of kid like i've never seen but lovely uh super smart i'm gonna say it because maybe you wouldn't he is folks he is absolutely precious and i knew him when he was little little little and uh he used to call me ba yeah yeah boss not butch but ba and it was just so sweet and you know it's so consistent silas with the ethic of the company we never want as it grows and becomes larger numerically we never ever want for that spark a commitment to each other as a family to be lost and see let's hear just another expression of that today balancing your home life balancing a team of people that really are i tell folks they're like air traffic controllers it's like you got jets that are out there and you're having to vector them in and some days it feels like it's five o'clock at laguardia airport in new york all the planes are asking can we land yes now yeah i definitely feel it first hand because i run first shift at fragrance my wife runs second shift so um yeah between both of us our lives spent you know we spend 17 hours a day of freight works between me and her combined so uh yeah when oliver's playing with trucks you know he calls me and says daddy josh didn't drop his trailing gastonia he's actually over here in jonestown bobtail then he's playing playing with his trucks he's he's been listening to you yes yes well you know what they train them young they say and who knows what the days ahead will have you know silas uh one of the things that we do for podcast even people that are part of the family that are podcast guests here is we have a little gift for you and uh everybody who comes on life of the mile delivered by freight works make sure you subscribe hit that button uh gets a genuine yeti mug and on the one side it's got that familiar freightworks one logo on the back side it's got life of the mile delivered by great works and uh whether it's your uh lemonade or your coffee or whatever it may be we want you to have that thank you as a thank you for uh coming away and i sure hope that when you go back the report is that everything uh was copacetic everything was just good everything was good while you're away this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks i want to tell you real quickly if you go to the life of the miles site you're going to find some blogs that are there as well the most recent one that was just uploaded is on pets drivers and their pets you're going to hear some guidelines that we have about how drivers can effectively love their pets while they're driving on the road we want to be a kinder gentler company it's not a perfect place but it's a place committed to keep its promises and if you're interested in considering being part of the team give us a call go to the website and in the meantime if you haven't subscribed to make sure you subscribe to the channel the youtube channel we can be found on podcast platforms everywhere and every time that we're going to be together it's going to be an unplugged open-hearted conversation like i've had with silas freitas today and um silas i just hope in the days ahead we get to have you come back and tell us about a growing team as the fleet grows and as our footprint across america grows and it's always done with a sense of thankfulness to the god of the universe who gave us the opportunity to be involved in meaningful work and in a way where we can really consistently care for and love each other which we do this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks my guest today is silas and uh it's been so great to have you thanks for having me come back all right


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