Friday, December 1, 2017

Schilli NTLS Business Admin Manager Drives a Tractor with an Allison Transmission

Recently, Allison Transmission came to Schilli with a tractor that had an automatic transmission.  They wanted to show us that anyone without any experience behind the wheel of a semi and no CDL could drive it, even the Schilli NTLS Business Admin Manager, Jennifer Toomer. 

She had a total of 5 minutes of verbal training in the truck and took off.  Allison Transmission wanted to show us how easy it was to drive it. 

Jennifer was a little concerned when she was asked to drive the tractor and trailer, as she hadn’t driven a semi before.  But after the 5 minutes of training, off she went.  The gentleman from Allison asked her several times if she was sure she hadn’t driven a semi before because she did extremely well.  The truck was mostly push button, for driving and reverse, and she did not feel intimated after she began, as it was very easy to operate. 

She had a great first experience with the automatic transmission. 

I would like to put a disclaimer here – she wasn’t allowed on any state or county roads.  She drove in our company lot.

Wonder if we have to start looking for a new Business Admin Manager?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Live Blog on Facebook

On Wednesday, November, 1st we did a live blog on our Facebook page featuring Lee Michaud, President of the Schilli Companies.  He went over some changes we are going through here at Schilli and took questions from users watching. 

Our goal is to make this a weekly event, every Wednesday at 11 am Eastern.  We will be covering current events, hot topics in the industry, and answering questions from you.

You can submit questions by:

  • Emailing them to
  • Going to and clicking on Contact at the upper right hand corner of the page and filling out the form
  • Posting on our Facebook page "Schilli Recruiting & Retention." 

Our company is undergoing many changes and we want to involve the drivers so they are aware of what is going on, give them a voice and a connection to management. 

If you would like to watch a recording of the first live blog, click here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

On the Road with Alternative Transportation

Kyle from the American Association of Owner Operators saw one of our trucks on the road recently and emailed us a picture he took. 

Kyle wrote us to let us know he was thrilled that the driver had alternative transportation with him and was taking the initiative to stay healthy.

The American Association of Owner Operators has a YouTube channel that has "tons of videos on exercises" and recipes you can make that are easy and healthy.  Best of all, it's all free!  Check it out by clicking here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Message from a Former Driver

We received a contact form from the Schilli website that a former driver filled out.  Here's what he had to say:

I retired from Schilli Specialized a few years ago. Worked for them for about 4 years. In 38 years I have drove for many trucking companies. I honestly can say Schilli was the best.

When I needed to be home, I got home. If you treated them right, they treated you right. If you had a complaint, you could talk to the Terminal Mgr. and work to resolve the problem. You didn't have to stay in your truck if it was in for service at the shop, you could go on your break and they put you up in a motel. If you want to run and get miles they would accommodate you, no problem.
Drivers always have something to complain about but with my experience they were the best of all that I ever worked for. Did I ever complain? Yes, my dispatcher and I didn't see eye to eye. I asked for a different one and I got one. Did I always get home on Friday for my week end? Not always but they do try.
Remember there are things that aren't always going to go your way but that's the trucking business period. Many things that go wrong are usually not your company's fault.
So that's my story and you have my permission to publish this without my last name.


Charles "Jerry"

Monday, August 28, 2017

4 Mistakes While Driving Near Trucks

Semitrailer trucks aren’t nearly as maneuverable as passenger vehicles, and they take a lot longer to stop. The Arkansas State Police advises motorists to avoid making these four common — and dangerous — mistakes near big trucks:
  1. Cutting off a truck in traffic or on the highway to reach an exit or turn, or cutting into the open space in front of a truck. This removes the truck driver’s cushion of safety. Trying to beat a truck to a single-lane construction zone, for instance, represents a particularly dangerous situation. Take a moment to slow down and exit behind the truck. It will only take a few extra seconds.
  2. Lingering alongside a truck when passing. Always pass a tractor-trailer completely and on the left side. If you linger when passing a truck, your position makes it impossible for the truck driver to take evasive action if an obstacle appears in the road ahead.
  3. Following closely behind a truck when you can’t see the truck driver’s rear-view mirrors. In this situation, there is no way the truck driver can see you. Tailgating a truck or car is also dangerous because you take away your own cushion of safety if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly. Additionally, if the vehicle you’re following hits something in the road, you have no time to react before it hits the front of your car.
  4. Underestimating the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer. Because of its size, a tractor-trailer often appears to be traveling at a slower speed than it is. A large number of car-truck collisions take place at intersections because the driver of the car doesn’t realize how close the truck is or how quickly it’s approaching.
  Article from here for the original article.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Schilli Companies Join Daseke

Dear Schilli Company Team Members,

I am so very excited to announce that effective May 1, 2017 the Schilli Companies have joined forces with the Daseke family of carriers.

This is an exciting next chapter in the history of our company and one that holds many benefits for all of us. The decision to merge with Daseke was not taken lightly and was guided by my desire to continue the journey of excellence that we’ve been on for many years. By joining Daseke we have joined a unique and wonderful family of open deck specialized carriers. Together we can enhance our services and create opportunities for both our team members and the amazing collection of companies that we’re proud to call our customer. For you and your position within Schilli, all remains the same, including conditions of employment, pay and seniority.

The Daseke philosophy is to invest in great people, provide them with the resources they need to succeed, and then step back and let them run the business. As I’ve said on many occasions it is our team members that have allowed us to achieve the many successes we’ve had and I would never jeopardize our relationships. After a great deal of due diligence I assure you that our merger with Daseke is a great match and fulfills my commitment to provide growth opportunity to all.

Most importantly, our company’s leadership, management, and brand will remain the same with one exception. We are adding Lee Michaud as the President of the Transportation Companies. It will be business as usual except that we will be part of a focused team of sister companies who have a culture of collaboration. Like us, they are considered the best in the open deck specialized industry.

The Schilli Companies will continue to stand autonomously to best support our customers and team members. A merger with Daseke has never eliminated a position! In fact by merging, we are setting ourselves up for the potential for even faster growth.

Daseke Inc. is currently comprised of:
  • Smokey Point Distributing, based in Arlington, Washington (
  • E.W. Wylie Corporation, based in West Fargo, North Dakota (
  • J. Grady Randolph, based in Gaffney, South Carolina (
  • Central Oregon Truck Company, based in Redmond, Oregon (
  • Boyd Companies, based in Clayton, Alabama (
  • WTI Transport, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (
  • Lone Star Transportation, based in Fort Worth, Texas (
  • Bulldog Hiway Express, based in Charleston, South Carolina (
  • Hornady Transportation, based in Monroeville, Alabama (

These quality companies and the professional drivers behind the wheel are now our new brothers and sisters out on the road. I’m so excited about the future and the opportunities this merger creates as we collectively build North America’s premier open deck specialized carrier.

Our exciting journey continues stronger than ever.

Tom Schilli

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vehicle Maintenance Tips for Summer Heat

With temperatures in many parts of the country climbing into triple digits in recent days, AAA is reminding drivers that the risk of engines overheating, older batteries failing and tire troubles grows with each day of a heat wave.
“The effect this kind of weather can have on your car is cumulative so we expect to see an uptick in calls for roadside rescues,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA.

Proper vehicle maintenance is crucial to help avoid a breakdown in high temperatures. AAA offers these reminders:
  • Test your battery and, if necessary, replace it before it dies. Most batteries last three to five years and each day of extreme weather pushes a battery closer to its end.  
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high. Tires should be checked when the vehicle has not been driven recently, and they should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer — not the number molded into the tire sidewall. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located on the driver’s door jamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires. While checking the tire pressure — including the spare — drivers also should inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.
  • Check all fluids. When fluid levels are low, the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.
  • Stock a summer emergency roadside kit. Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a fully charged cell phone on hand so they can call for help. Also needed is a well-stocked emergency kit to ensure everyone’s safety while they’re waiting for help to arrive. Emergency roadside kits should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first-aid kit.

While many of the maintenance tasks to prepare a car for extreme summer heat can be performed by the average driver, some are best left to a trained automotive technician, AAA stressed.

To see the article in Automotive Fleet, click here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Driver Wellness Starts at Work

Building a healthy lifestyle can be hard work – especially for truck drivers, who are constantly on the go and constantly under pressure to be on the go. But the rewards that accrue when truckers live and work more healthfully are nothing to sneeze at, from being safer on the road to incurring lower medical and insurance costs to enjoying a higher quality of life for themselves and their loved ones.

Trucking companies benefit as well when their drivers are healthier. By implementing driver-oriented wellness programs, fleets are likely to see accident rates drop, which lowers operating costs and liability exposure. And driver satisfaction goes up, which cuts turnover and attracts new hires.

While no one opens a trucking company to hang out a medical shingle, a trucker’s workplace is the logical place to reach out to him or her about medical or lifestyle issues that could threaten their livelihood or physical well-being.

Think of a driver health and wellness program as a home base drivers can start from and return to for general information as well as specific guidance. Education, not scolding, should be the key aim. Recognition and/or incentives can be deployed to encourage drivers to make healthy changes and attain various goals, such as reducing weight and quitting smoking.

Issues to address

While it may seem that everywhere you turn, there’s new health data to absorb, any number of unbiased studies point to where fleets could direct their efforts to boost driver health and wellness.

A compelling one, conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that two specific indicators of poor health management – high pulse pressure (a blood-pressure measurement) and fatigue – were “highly associated” with truckers’ crash risk (as was the use of cell phones while driving.)

This research also highlighted a core underlying matter: Truck driver health is not well managed. Nearly 24% of the 797 long-haul truckers surveyed were determined to have high blood pressure (each received a basic physical exam) that had not previously been diagnosed and which was not being treated medically. The researchers also found that, similar to previous studies, 62% of the drivers were obese — that compares to 35% of the general adult population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“The high incidence of uncontrolled hypertension was a surprise, particularly given that truckers must undergo medical certification every two years,” notes study first author Matthew Thiese, Ph.D. “It’s another indication that truck drivers’ health needs are not adequately being met and could be endangering them in ways that we may not anticipate.”

Then there’s a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study that found 88% of the 1,670 long-haul truckers surveyed had at least one of three risk factors (hypertension, smoking, obesity) for a number of chronic diseases.

Along with the hidden killer of hypertension and the threat of death by fatigue or distraction, another major concern for many truck drivers is developing Type 2 diabetes. Not only will that threaten their health over the long term, but also more immediately, their qualification to hold a CDL.

Mental health should not be ignored, either, including active alcoholism and drug addiction and also untreated major depressive disorder.

When you think about the inherently sedentary nature of truck driving coupled with long periods away from home spent literally on the road, it makes sense to look at driver health from a holistic perspective. For example, a driver who is at risk for or has been diagnosed as hypertensive may also be suffering from sleep apnea or be at risk for diabetes.

What’s in a wellness program?

Wellness programs should at the very least aim to educate drivers on what their health risks are and what they can do to reduce them. Some fleets may limit their outreach to providing health information and insights to drivers on a regular basis, such as via email bulletins and the like. Others, convinced of the payback potential in lower operating and recruiting costs, not to mention simply improving the lives of employees, may go so far as to install workout gyms for drivers and even on-site medical clinics.

At their best, wellness programs will screen for health issues to identify them for drivers as early as possible and then offer advice on treatment options and behavioral changes that will lessen the severity or onset of these conditions. In addition, fleets can motivate even the healthiest of drivers to eat, sleep and work as healthfully and safely as possible by rewarding them for reaching pre-arranged lifestyle or medical goals.

However, a recent study by nonprofit Rand Corp. of 10 years of data from the wellness program of a Fortune 100 firm found a sharp difference in payback between initiatives that promote lifestyle changes to prevent developing conditions (such as quitting smoking) and those designed to help employees manage chronic diseases already afflicting them, such as reminders to take prescribed meds.

It was determined that the disease-management aspect of the program alone generated 87% of the healthcare cost savings. That amounted to $136 in savings per employee per month, largely driven by a nearly 30% drop in hospital admissions. What’s more, only 13% of the employees took part in the disease-management component. “Put differently, the much higher participation in the lifestyle management component contributed only slightly to the overall savings,” notes Rand.

There are also legal words to the wise to consider. In an employer guide to wellness white paper, the Transamerica Center for Health Studies points out there are requirements imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (better known as HIPAA), and the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that must be met.

“Generally, workplace wellness programs must be voluntary, non-discriminatory, be reasonably likely to promote health or prevent disease, and protect the confidential health information of their employees,” it explains.

First steps

While there is no single best way to design a workplace wellness program, launching various driver-health oriented initiatives can help fleets cut the cost of healthcare as well as life and disability insurance, reduce turnover and boost recruitment.

The first step is to measure what needs doing by assessing the state of your drivers’ health and health risks. This is usually done by asking each driver to complete a health risk assessment and undergo biometric screening. HRAs, in print or electronic form, seek driver input on such risk factors as smoking, obesity and stress levels. Biometric screening captures baseline blood pressure readings, height/weight measurements and cholesterol and blood-glucose levels.

All this information will reveal those at risk so they can be encouraged – but never forced or coerced – to take part in programs offered by the fleet that are personalized to help reduce their risk of developing chronic disease and/or to better manage any disease conditions already affecting them.

The Small Business Administration suggests several sources for help putting together a wellness program. At the top of its list is the Centers for Disease Control, which provides online tools to design and structure programs. Among these is CDC LEAN Works, a free web-based resource that includes an obesity cost calculator to estimate how much obesity is costing a company and how much in savings could be gained with different sorts of workplace programs.

SBA also recommends consulting your healthcare insurance provider, as many now offer tools and resources to help employers develop programs, and checking in with your local SBA small-business assistance group or Chamber of Commerce to see what resources or seminars they may offer.

Fleets also started hiring diet and fitness trainers, putting in walking tracks and gyms at facilities, and began offering in-cab fitness equipment. Some carriers launched sleep-apnea testing for high-risk drivers. Some promote wellness company-wide, including hosting participation-driving events such as marathons and polar swim plunges.

To see the full article in, click here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bridge Report Finds Nearly 56,000 Bridges Still Need Attention

Original article is from Heavy Duty Trucking and can be found here.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the 2016 National Bridge Inventory, which indicates that 55,710 bridges are structurally compromised-- including 13,000 that need replacement, widening, or major reconstruction.

The information was analyzed by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. The information was compiled into ARTBA's 2017 Bridge Report.

The report is produced annually and by comparing 2016 to 2015’s National Bridge Inventory, ARTBA found that progress has been slow in repairing bridges.

The inventory of structurally deficient bridges only decreased by 0.5% in a year's time. At that pace, it would take more than 20 years to address all of the problems structures.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” said Alison Premo Black, chief economist of ARTBA. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

About 1,900 of the bridges are on the Interstate Highway System, affecting millions of Americans. The nation’s cars, trucks, and buses cross the 55,710 bridges around 185 million times every day. While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, their inclusion in the U.S. DOT report indicates that they are in need of attention.

The ARTBA report is presented through an interactive map of the United States, in which each state is color-coded based on the percentage of structurally deficient bridges it contains. By clicking on a state, a separate report on the state can be accessed, breaking down the breadth of the problem as well as the locations of each bridge.

Iowa was the state with the highest number of structurally deficient bridges at 4,968, while Rhode Island was the state with the highest percentage at 25%. Washington D.C. contained the least deficient bridges of the regions tracked with only 9, while Nevada was the state with the least at only 31.

The 2017 Bridge report also offers specific information, including rankings of the 250 most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and the 25 most heavily traveled in each state.

To access the report, click here.