Carrier Interview: ATW Trucking

September 16, 2022

Since January 1, 2014, ATW Trucking has been driving lanes in and out of Greenwood, Ind., and Vice President Kevin Shaw has been there since the beginning. Operating a 25, 53-foot dry van fleet, Shaw ensures that all aspects of ATW’s business flows properly so that its customers’ freight arrives from point A to point B on time.

For the last five years, ATW Trucking has partnered with Spot to help manage its freight and to connect its drivers to shippers that align with the company’s values. In this exclusive interview, learn more about how Spot has played a role in ATW Trucking’s growth over the years.

What does ATW Trucking do?

KS: “ATW – We are a carrier. We have about 25 trucks out of Greenwood, Indiana. We operate within a 250-mile radius of Indianapolis. All our guys that come in daily will be the guys in the trucks hauling your freight from point A to point B.”

How would you describe your fleet?

KS: “We are all 53-foot dry vans. Like I said all of our guys are home daily, we like that schedule for everybody. Good consistency and balance between home and work life.”

How did you get into the business?
What was the first step? Getting a couple trucks and trailers?

KS: “It was actually a sprinter van, which I drove. I drove to Cleveland, Ohio and back. So, we started as an ‘Expedite Company’ and now we are all 53-foot dry vans.”

So, what has it been like to see that grow?

KS: “It’s been interesting. It’s been very fulfilling, personally. To see something from just an idea build into something that’s not only supporting the people that you care about and providing a life income for them, but just through the ups and downs, I think everybody would say for the last couple of years it has been the wild, wild west out there. I think the biggest thing I’m grateful for and what I like to see the most is when we have these challenges like we’re in and we respond to them. Then going to the other side and being able to look back and saying that we did this right, we did this wrong but we survived it and grew through it. It’s just really seeing that growth and almost treating the business as it’s living and breathing. Like how you want to see your kid; baseball or sports or what not, you want to see them improve. So, that’s kind of how we see the business. It has been very fulfilling to see that.”

How has Spot played a role in ATW Trucking’s growth?
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How does Spot differ from other 3PLs that you work with?

KS: “I think everybody who has been on the carrier side can understand that when you say is this a broker load or not comes with some connotations, some stereotypes. Spot I feel like is a partner, not a broker. They understand our business. Austin Williams, who I work with specifically, he is taking the time to understand what we do well, how our business operates, and what we can and can’t handle.”

What are ATW experts in and how does Spot help accomplish its goals?

KS: “Our expertise is rededicated freight. Same thing every day. We run it like clockwork. In terms of relationships, I don’t feel like we are just a number with Spot. We work on solutions together; we handle our problems together. I feel like Spot is a part of our team at ATW. I know that if I need to talk to somebody at Spot, whether it be Austin or anybody else, I know that I am going to get answers quick, I know that I can trust what they are going to say, which is huge for me. In this industry having people in your corner that you can trust that are going to be looking out for you and the people you take care of, I feel like I have that with Spot.”

What makes Spot different?

KS: “I think it goes back to the trust. Trust and expectations. I know exactly what I am going to get from Spot when they are approaching ATW with an opportunity. I know that I am going to be told the truth about it, we’ll go over the ins and outs and the what ifs. I feel like with Spot I have a solid game plan that allows my operation to do what it needs to do to meet the customer’s expectations.”

How does working with a partner you trust affect your reputation?

KS: “Being able to work with people we can trust is huge for the longevity of our company. Every time I have a load that we’re carrying, if ATW’s names on it, that’s my personal integrity on it because I gave somebody my word. If I can’t trust who I’m working with, that’s going to compromise the integrity of me, which I don’t really enjoy too much. But, again, we’re in an industry where your word has to mean what it means. If you say you’re going to get there, you need to get there, and if you’re not, there better be a dang good reason for why it wasn’t better communicated. So, being able to work with people like Austin, at Spot, and Spot in general, we have those expectations set up front. The communication flows. I feel that loads I take from Spot, we’re safe with because we understand each other, and the customer understands.”

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How does Spot go above and beyond to help protect your reputation and get the job done?
How do you view your relationship with Spot employees?

KS: “I view the people at Spot as friends, as a part of our team. We have that kind of relationship where, you know, when you work with somebody in the trenches and figure things out together, you develop that rapport, that friendship, you earn your battle scars together. I have that relationship with Spot, and that is a big difference from the rest of the brokers out there.”

How does ATW Trucking prioritize driver wellbeing? How does Spot help?

KS: “Driving’s not an easy job. A lot of people think it’s just sitting down in a truck. No, it’s not. They are carrying 80,000 pounds plus going down the road at 60 miles per hour or more, having to be constantly on guard. What I want to do and what I think our guys appreciate at ATW is just understanding what they go through. They aren’t just a number, they are a person, they are a valued individual, especially on our team. What’s going on in their personal life and at home, you know that time matters to us too.”

“I think that’s probably a big piece of what we do. We have a lot of guys that come from other carriers where you are just a number. What we’re trying to do at ATW is buck that trend. I mean we run a smaller operation that allows us to do that. At the same time, you are going to see that in transportation, they are lagging behind the rest of the world that has a set schedule, that has set family time. I know it’s a different profession, but I see that it is progressing towards that, where you’re going to need guys that do X to X, but you got to have that work home life balance.

Spot allows us to accomplish what we want, as far as giving our drivers expectations with time frames and whatnot. Spot knows what we are after. They know what kind of customers fit the mold, that fits our drivers’ schedules, that fits our company’s values. Being able to connect us to that allows us to grow, allows us to maintain what we do after we do a good job for Spot, and in return a good job for their customers.”

What would you say to somebody in your shoes that is not working with Spot?
How do you feel like Spot is advocated for you and your drivers?

KS: “In terms of being a part of what we do and understanding what we do, Spot on multiple occasions has approached us when the markets are doing the ‘up and down’, asking ‘How do we figure out this solution?’. These are open conversations that I can have with Austin or with anyone at Spot who’s handling our freight. No issues.”

“I mean these are open conversations. I feel like when we are going through anything that pops up, we just talk about it. ‘What’s the solution? How’s this impacting you? How’s this impacting your customer?’. Then we kind of meet in the middle and are able to develop a game plan. I think that’s fair to all parties. Which is pretty unique, you don’t really see that too much.”

“Spot is invested in our longevity and our relationship together at ATW. I don’t feel like Spot is looking at each load like a dollar sign. They are looking at longevity.”

What’s next for ATW?

KS: “What’s next on the plate for ATW is organically growing with our customer base. We’re not going to be the guy that’s going to throw 150 trucks on the road. We know what we do well, and we are going to grow organically with our customer base and capture the right opportunities when they pop up. We’re not in a rush or anything.”