Panther Executives: Time to lose the suits and get haulin'!
The open road. Being close to America from end to end. Freedom from the ol' 9 to 5. That's what you love. And then there are the challenges of making it to pickups and waiting for loads. Andy Clarke and Ed Wadel, CEO and CIO of Panther Expedited Services, will be doing their best to see as much of it as they can the week of December 7. Together, they'll be hitting the road and living the lives of Panther owner operators.
As part of Panther's recent expansion into a fuller line of ground, air, ocean and logistics services, Clarke and Wadel are taking over one of its' fleet owner's Sprinter Cargo Van for the entirety of the week and "will be on the road ourselves: getting the load offers, taking the loads, delivering, making sure we meet time schedule--the whole nine yards."
While this new team is certainly looking forward to the experience, it's a trip that's more inclusive than that. Clarke hopes to gain a keener perspective on how his owner operators work on a day-to-day, shipment-to-shipment basis, which means that he and Wadel will be sleeping and showering at truck stops, eating where they can and generally living the same life of the very folks who work for them every day.
Clarke also hopes to learn more about how well Panther's in-cab technology works on the road and to meet customers on the shipping docks. He expects to take away from this a fuller sense of how Panther can maximize the value equation for everyone involved -- because at the end of the day, if the drivers are making more money, so is the company.
This isn't to say that he isn't expecting any bumps along the way. Clarke worries, "What if I get a load on Thursday headed for California? How will I get back in time and still make money? These are decisions made every day by our drivers--I want to make the right decisions, too." Also, he's conscious about keeping healthy.
"I know the challenges on the road are hard. Sometimes the only choice you have is a fast food stop when you are starving and only have 30 minutes to be at a pickup. If I am running constantly, I know this will be a challenge." Surely, this is a concern of many of his drivers, as well.
While there's much to be gained professionally by the project, the simple fact of the company's CEO and CIO running deliveries is sure to draw attention--not that anyone might notice off the bat. "Most of them will not know me personally," Clarke says. "However, I think they'll appreciate it." True enough. It's always admirable to see an executive willing to get his hands a little dirty in order to see what happens on all levels of a company--and in the expediting industry, it simply requires a few road trips. This, of course, is something that Clarke and Wadel are very aware of. "I want to see what it's like to walk in the back door instead of the front door."
A central aspect of their undertaking is support from the Panther crew. Everyone in the company is aware of the project and Clarke thinks that his drivers will appreciate that the team is "running in their shoes for a week." Adding more to the mix, Clarke and Wadel will be taking the money they make from their shipments and putting it into Panther's Charity Program (Toys for Tots).
As for the experience itself, Clarke and Wadel look forward to the sheer fun of the project; it's an opportunity for them to see how the company works from the inside out, from the top to the bottom. The team plans to blog the experience through the week, and he expects to post pictures and video as well. You can follow Andy Clarke and Ed Wadel's week as Panther drivers beginning this December 7 at www.expeditersonline.com/sub/pantherii/2009/2009.html
Panther Expedited Services, Inc
4940 Panther Parkway
Seville, OH 44273