Revenue growth is rapidly driving expansion at R.B. Humphreys, a Westmoreland, N.Y.-based temperature-controlled, for-hire truckload carrier. Experiencing growth, the company has seen its revenue increase by more than 100% in the past year, bringing about the need to expand its staff of employees, drivers and agents to nearly 100 people.
None of that, however, is much of a surprise to R.B. Humphreys President Marvin VanSlyke. “Our company is exactly where we envisioned it being at this point, last year,” says VanSlyke. “We’ve worked hard over the last two years to preserve the old-school work ethic that this business was built on, while also continually modernizing, implementing positive changes and ensuring that we have a talented and highly-capable staff.”
R.B. Humphreys, a temperature-controlled trucking company with overnight capabilities, services all points east of the Mississippi River, and has 48-state operating authority. Outbound and inbound destinations for its refrigerated hauls include New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and all of New England.
The company serves upwards of 175 food producers and distributors in the dairy products, meat, bakery, ice cream, produce, grocery supplies and frozen food markets, many within a 400-mile radius of its headquarters. On the client roster at R.B. Humphreys are Byrne Dairy, HP Hood, Hillshire Food, Lindt Chocolate, Crowley, Smithfield Foods, Americold and others. With its recent growth, the carrier has also quickly become a major player in the Southeast and just forged a new business relationship in the Midwest with one of the country’s largest egg producers.
R.B. Humphreys operates from a new facility on a 30-acre parcel, located about 45 miles east of Syracuse, N.Y., that provides trailer parking along with shop and dock facilities. Rapid growth in its business has also meant a significant investment in equipment.
Upgrading and expanding
Recently, R.B. Humphreys spent $5 million to upgrade its fleet, which now numbers over 70 tractors and 85 trailers. “We’re anticipating growing to 100 power units within the next year,” VanSlyke states. “Simultaneously, we’re focusing closely on fuel economy and on driver comfort as we upgrade and expand our fleet.”
The latest tractors to join the R.B. Humphreys fleet are Freightliner Cascadia Evolution models. While that choice was partly made for fuel efficiency, VanSlyke also relates that the carrier is constantly evaluating new systems and components, a practice that led to the decision to buy auxiliary power units [APUs] for its new vehicles. “Our APUs are too new to quantify just yet,” he says, “but we suspect that they will pay dividends when the figures are in.”
VanSlyke points out that a dedicated maintenance staff pays off for the R.B. Humphreys fleet. “Our experienced mechanics have the tools to perform everything from oil changes to engine rebuilds,” he says, “and always maintain our vehicles so they will operate in a safe and reliable manner.”
Driver retention is also an important consideration at R.B. Humphreys, VanSlyke notes, adding that the carrier “takes pride in offering competitive wages, equitable fee arrangements for owner-operators, and a driver-friendly culture. Building a more driver-friendly culture has improved the professionalism of our drivers and that has a direct impact on customer service, which helps us expand our client base.
“R.B. Humphreys takes care of its drivers,” VanSlyke continues. “It begins with hiring and retaining the most capable staff of people who are going to be interacting and serving as a contact point for our drivers. We also have many incentives in place for drivers such as safety and human resources departments, and we regularly host driver appreciation days and monthly meetings.”
Another part of the focus at R.B. Humphreys is on addressing industry issues that are a challenge for the company. Chief among them today, according to VanSlyke, are accessorial charges for shippers that are not keeping pace with the added costs associated with new hours-of-service regulations and CSA requirements. “That said, we have a business development director for all crisis management and to keep a finger on the pulse of any new developments within our industry,” he adds.
Ralph B. Humphreys, a local farmer, founded R.B. Humphreys in 1961. In 2001, Ralph Humphreys retired and sold the company to Thorn Apple Valley, an investment group with extensive trucking experience as a major meat products producer, and as specialist in finance, operations, logistics and warehousing. The new owners continued the expansion of the company and strived to keep the same attention to customer service that had been tradition under the Humphreys name.
Born and raised in central New York, Marvin VanSlyke started his own business 25 years ago. He joined R.B. Humphreys in 2010, merging it with his thriving brokerage firm. Since becoming president of the carrier in 2012, he has seen the company grow exponentially and continue to solidify its status as a leader in the transportation field.
“R.B. Humphreys has always had an outstanding reputation for providing reliable service, equipment and personnel,” VanSlyke states. “We’re known for a strong work ethic and a commitment to providing a high level of customer service. We work hard at keeping the lines of communication open with all of our clients and to provide the best and most dependable customer service possible at all times.”
This column appeared in the February 2014 edition of Fleet Equipment. You can read the entire issue on your phone or tablet by downloading the Fleet Equipment app.