Garner Trucking sets its sights on continuous success

Bigger is not always better, but it is possible to grow without losing sight of the things that lead to a successful business.

This is one of the immediate results from a conversation with Sherry Garner Prombo. For the president and CEO of Garner Trucking, the one thing that hasn’t changed about the company her parents founded more than 60 years ago is a commitment to customers and employees.

Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Garner owns 90 tractors and 350 trailers serving customers in the upper Midwest. The average length of a dry cargo carrier for a regional truckload is 350 miles.

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“We are a family business,” Brumbo said. “We have 150 employees, and everyone here understands that working together is what makes a difference to us, our families, and our customers.”

This approach, according to Brumbo, is what led Garner to focus on the health and wellness of all of its employees. And in 2021, it took a step in that direction by making the Rolling Strong health and wellness app free companywide.

“I was looking at our store,” Brumbo said. There were trucks in every bay and units being serviced in the yard. Then it shocked me – we probably take better care of our equipment than our employees, especially our drivers. We follow all the rules for [U.S. Department of Transportation] Medical cards and health insurance checks, but what do we do to help people make healthy lifestyle choices? ”

“The Rolling Strong program puts health and wellness at the forefront,” Brumbo continued. “Truck driving comes with unique challenges – some people say sitting is the new smoking – so we see great value in a driver-centric approach to ways to stay healthy on the road.”

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Since the company made the decision to make the Rolling Strong app free to all employees, participation has doubled. Brumbaugh also credits competitions she runs using app data to incentivize more employees to participate.

But Brumbo doesn’t expect Garner’s employees to just take her word for it. She is also an active participant in the programme. “If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to go the route,” she stated. Earlier this year, she scored a top-five in the Women Driving Wellness competition sponsored by WIT for scoring her nutrition, fitness, hydration, sleep and training sessions in the Rolling Strong app.

Garner’s focus on drivers doesn’t stop there either. “Home time is important for drivers and their families,” Brumbo said. “We are working very hard to make sure drivers go home when they need to and do so safely.”

“Driver retention has been more difficult in the past several years, and the truckload segment continues to have the highest turnover,” Brumbo continued. “We’re always looking for good candidates, but we also know that people have more options today, so it’s important to be very grateful to the drivers who remain in the industry.”

Garner’s efforts have been recognized by the industry. For the sixth year in a row, in 2022 the company was named Best Fleet to Drive in the program produced by CarriersEdge in partnership with the Truck Carriers Association (TCA), and received top honors in the annual competition’s Small Carrier category.

There are other issues that pose challenges for Garner as well, including higher fuel prices and the cost of new equipment and parts supplies. At GCM Truck, Trailer & Auto Repair, a process that serves Garner’s fleet and external customers, for example, there are a number of trucks waiting for parts.

“In these cases, we can’t get jobs done and that leads to more downtime,” Brumbo said. “It should be a wake-up call that our supply chain is not as robust as we thought, and that we need to manufacture more things in-house so we can limit our exposure.”

With Brumbaugh at the helm, Garner is well positioned to weather all these storms. What she brings is her lifelong experience in the family business. She also serves on the boards of directors of several industry associations, and in 2020 was the second woman to be appointed as the chair of the board of directors for American Trucking Associations.

“Garner remains a highly rated truck carrier in our region,” Brumbo said. “It’s in large part because I’m surrounded by people who care about Garner and our future like I do, and customers who know we’ll always appreciate their business.”

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