Four truck drivers for independent mattress manufacturer Southerland – one of the few mattress producers to operate its own trucking fleet – have been recognized with the company’s Safe Driving Award for their commitment to safety. The four drivers have racked up a combined 4.3 million miles without incident, marking the first time in company history that its top drivers have surpassed the 4-million mark for accident-free miles.
The milestone – the equivalent of about 35 years’ worth of accident-free driving – has been achieved while delivering mattresses to retailers in 43 states, despite increasingly congested highways and strict federal regulations limiting drivers to 11 hours per day behind the wheel. “We’re not in the trucking business as a primary operation, but operating our own fleet gives us a distinct competitive advantage in the mattress business because we control the product from the time it leaves our loading dock until it reaches the dealer’s warehouse or showroom,” said Bryan Smith, president and chief executive officer of Southerland. “We see it as an extension of our customer service since many of our drivers are on a first-name basis with our customers and can address issues almost immediately.”
The leading driver, Simon Quinonez from the company’s Phoenix factory, has nearly 1.8 million miles without an accident, while John Robinson from the Nashville factory has logged more than 930,000 accident-free miles. In addition, Richard Erb from the Nashville factory has more than 835,000 miles without an accident, and Anthony Jordan of the Phoenix factory has accumulated more than 772,000 accident-free miles.
“Considering that the average truck driver logs 125,000 miles per year, every driver in this group has gone at least seven years without an accident, and one is closing in on 13 years,” said Smith. “This group is the best of the best. Without drivers like them, we couldn’t consistently provide safe, timely delivery to our customers.”
He said the limits on driving time make delivery scheduling critical, so drivers are monitored closely, and the company makes sure their next load is ready to go by the time they return to the factory. “Every minute is important, and there is no wiggle room once you hit the limit on driving time,” he said.
Southerland currently operates 45 tractors and more than 100 trailers from its factories in Nashville, Phoenix, Tualatin, Oregon, and Oklahoma City, and makes between 1,000 and 1,200 deliveries a month. Drivers are full time employees of Southerland Transport and typically work a Monday through Friday schedule, which gives the company another competitive advantage because that helps keep turnover lower in an era when hiring new drivers is difficult because of a severe driver shortage nationwide.
About Southerland: Southerland has been making quality mattresses in the U.S. since 1893. Using only best-in-class materials and components, Southerland currently sells its line of mattresses and adjustable bases throughout 43 states. By implementing its stringent quality assurance program, Southerland manufactures mattresses that are backed by the company’s “making it right” philosophy that stands behind every product delivered. Each of its products is delivered to retailers via its wholly-owned transportation company. The company’s six production and distribution facilities are located in Nashville, Tenn., Cleveland, Phoenix, Tualatin, Oregon, and Oklahoma City total more than 480,000 square feet.