It’s hard to say whether Matt Heroux chose a career in trucking, or it chose him. In one sense, trucking is in his DNA. Hailing from a family that’s been in the freight transportation industry for the past 100 years, he’s been surrounded by trucking for his entire life. Some of his earliest childhood memories, he says, involve heavy-duty trucks.
It was 2016, after working in the trucking industry for more than 20 years that Heroux and his wife and business partner Lisa decided to start Fresh Freight, their own brokerage and logistics company. Today, the partners run the operation together, where Lisa—whose family heritage includes a California-based produce operation—manages the company’s finances.
Heroux’s ultimate goal, though, was to eventually transition the operation into an asset-based carrier—a trucking company of his own. In 2019, that dream became a reality when he began adding company-owned equipment to the Phoenix-based provider of food transportation solutions.
“I didn’t see a lot of people who were looking to become fleet owners,” Heroux says. “Everyone wants to be tech-driven. They want to develop an app or software. I wanted to use the best technology to provide the most efficient fresh food transportation and logistics services.”
Blended capacity model
Today, Fresh Freight transports food and food products for a variety of well-known brands in food service, produce and grocery retail businesses. To meet their supply chain requirements, the company employs what Heroux describes as a blended capacity model of company-owned equipment, carrier partnerships and exclusive private fleets. As a logistics company, it also offers warehousing, consolidation and special project services.
“The food logistics industry is fast-paced and constantly changing,” Heroux says. “We’ve thrived by being able to rapidly respond to our customers’ dynamic needs, by being agile, adaptable and responsive.”
Emphasis on partnerships
The Fresh Freight company fleet consists of 15 Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft tractors and 18 Hyundai Thermo Tech refrigerated trailers. After spending decades managing fleets, Heroux notes, he knew early on that he didn’t want to operate a mixed fleet with a variety of makes and models.
“We’re big believers in uniformity,” Heroux says. “That means we place a lot of emphasis on partnerships with OEMs. The same way that we don’t win over customers based on price, but rather on service, we don’t invest in the least expensive equipment on the market because you get what you pay for in this business.
“Premium equipment also drives reliability,” Heroux continues, “and that is a major factor in our continued success. A shipment delay caused by an equipment failure can cost our customers thousands of dollars in shelf life value. They depend on us to deliver on time, every day. Our rapid growth and our reputation are built on providing consistently high service levels.”
As a selling point for customers, Fresh Freight also has an exclusive partnership with a company that provides equipment that cleans and sanitizes the air within its trailers during transport. By removing airborne bacteria, mold and allergens, Heroux explains, the food stays fresh and has a longer shelf life.
“Our insurance underwriter, Great West, has also been a valuable asset,” Heroux says. “They have been a key part of developing our safety training program. Their comprehensive resource library allows us to provide best-in-class training resources to our drivers.”
Fresh Freight’s drivers are considered a big part of the company’s ability to offer high quality service. “Our premium equipment gives our drivers pride and comfort while running over the road,” Heroux says. “Attracting and keeping great drivers is much easier once the word is out that you only have top-of-the-line tractors.
“Our driver compensation practices, which include full-time weekly salaries in place of traditional mileage-based pay, company paid medical and dental benefits, consistent home time and paid time off, remove many of the driver retention obstacles that frequently arise in over-the-road trucking operations,” Heroux adds. “Fresh Freight drivers are safer because they are not chasing extra miles.”
Heroux is also quick to compliment Fresh Freight’s fleet managers, John Murphy and Molly Cash, for ensuring that the fleet’s equipment is running reliably and efficiently. “Through our integrated systems, we receive real-time fault code alerts and focus on upcoming preventive maintenance needs,” Heroux relates. “For trailers, we utilize Coretex iBrite software to remotely operate and monitor reefer units, and have instant visibility into a comprehensive list of health metrics and maintenance records.
A huge benefit to the Fresh Freight fleet, according to Heroux, has been its partnerships with Rush Peterbilt and the entire Peterbilt dealer network. Through the RushCare Service Connect program, he notes, the fleet has assistance for sourcing in-network coverage for any unscheduled service needs. All maintenance records are also managed in their portal, and the company has immediate access to in-depth information and unit service histories.
Growing up in a large family of farmers, grocers and food transporters, Matt Heroux learned at an early age to understand what it takes to be successful in transportation. A high school job working for a transportation company, and a focus on logistics and supply chain management in college, also contributed to the foundation of his commitment to excellence at Fresh Freight.
“We take pride in providing services that are a class above our competitors,” Heroux says. “All of our resources are dedicated to the food shipping community, and our understanding of the complex dynamic of food and produce logistics management helps guarantee our customers have the best, long-term supply chain partner in the industry.”