Anyone who has ever spent much time in the trucking industry knows how challenging the job can genuinely be. The same is true for those who know someone who works in this particular industry. There are a number of challenges involved that range from logistical issues to a lack of communication to being forced to complete a job on time, yet having to wait for 30 days or even longer to get paid. These are the types of problems that have plagued owner-operators for years. Up until now, there weren't a lot of solutions to these problems. That's where a company called TrueNorth comes in. The idea is to help with every form of the trucking industry. Whether you are closely linked to the industry or not, you rely on truckers to bring you the things that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. If you want to know more about how TrueNorth is shaking things up, keep reading. Here are 20 things about them that will probably make you see the trucking industry in a whole new light.
1. The company is headed up by someone with ties to the industry
Their CEO is co-founder Jin Stedge, someone who initially went to school to train in the aerospace industry. She even states herself that she didn't think she would find herself being in charge of a startup that is geared toward helping truckers who are also owner operators streamline their business practices and increase their profits. However, all of that changed when she did an internship at a company that was geared toward similar interests for individuals who operated their own courier businesses. She says that it truly opened her eyes to some of the issues in this particular industry and it was something that she wanted to address.
2. They are capable of seeing things from the owner-operator’s point of view
In fact, one of the reasons that this company is capable of seeing things from the owner operator’s point of view is because of Stedge herself. She had a number of close family members who had their own independent trucking company in the 1980s and she was a firsthand witness to the many struggles that they had to put up with in order to function. It wasn't an easy job. In fact, she has commented on remembering how it was very difficult to run a successful trucking business, even if you were meticulous enough to make sure that practically everything was done correctly. According to her, it's because a lot of the business is set up to support major corporations, leaving the independent owner-operators out in the cold. That's something that she wanted to change so that's where this company places its focus.
3. In some cases, they utilize AI technology
In some cases, they do indeed utilize AI technology in order to help their customers. Much of it comes in the form of software that is designed to help them find the best gigs or even choose a better route in real time as opposed to finding out about something after the fact. By helping truckers book better jobs and then coordinate their loads in a more effective manner, it allows them to perform more jobs in a shorter amount of time. The end result is more money in their bank account and more supplies to get where they need to go on time.
4. The company just raised $50 million
Obviously, it would be almost impossible to pull any of this off without some serious financial backing from companies that believe that TrueNorth can experience long-term success. They just finished their second round of funding in which they raised $50 million. That money will eventually be used to help expand the business, as they are growing so rapidly that they already need to hire more people. There is little doubt that at least some of the money will also go toward additional research and software updates that help the company stay relevant in the face of competition that is also finding its footing in the same industry. Last but not least, They may choose to use some of it for marketing purposes.
5. The company helps truckers find loads
It's already been mentioned that the company helps truckers find some of the best gigs. According to Stedge, when you're an independent owner operator, it can sometimes be difficult to find the best jobs. If you're doing it on your own, you may be able to find loads, but they might not be the ones that pay the best or offer the best set of circumstances. Having had family in the trucking industry, she knows that truckers aren't doing themselves any favors if they end up choosing loads that are woefully underpaid or that require them to jump through a series of hoops in order to get the load to its destination. In order to be profitable, it has to be something with decent pay and a relatively short turnaround time. Therefore, the company helps find loads that meet this criteria for their customers.
6. They also help them coordinate those loads more effectively
In addition to helping them find the loads, they also help them coordinate those loads more effectively so that they can drop one load off and pick up another one in the same city without having a lot of deadhead time. That can make all the difference in the world in whether or not an independent owner operator is profitable at the end of the year. By being able to utilize special software to coordinate loads, independent truckers have the ability to double or even triple the number of loads that they can haul in a single year without spending much more time on the road than they already were.
7. Their system can be used to help truckers send out invoices
Another thing that really sets this company apart is that they actually invoice customers for independent owner operators. It is no longer necessary for independent truckers to spend time in the office sorting through paperwork in order to send out invoices on their own. That can save a lot of time and it's also a money saver because it may not be necessary for them to employ office assistants in order to get their invoices sent out. At the end of the day, the goal is to help them get paid faster and eliminate as much overhead as possible.
8. It also works to assist owner-operators with optimizing routes
There was a time when truckers had to figure out their routes by looking at maps and little else. Of course, they now have GPS and that can be a huge help, provided they're in an area where the GPS actually works. That said, a lot of truckers that go through areas like the Rocky Mountains can't use GPS because some of the routes are so remote that the system just doesn't work. TrueNorth helps these truckers optimize their routes so that they're taking the most direct route to their destination. In addition, their system also takes other things into account such as road construction, the terrain, and other pertinent issues that might help truckers decide on another route that's actually faster, even if it is a bit longer. The best part about it is that it works throughout the United States, not just in highly populated areas.
9. The company even helps truckers get paid right away
This is the thing that really sets TrueNorth apart from virtually all of its competition. They make sure that truckers get paid for loads immediately. Traditionally, they've had to wait for at least 30 days to see any revenue from the jobs that they have completed. TrueNorth addresses this issue by actually paying their customers themselves and then collecting the money from the truckers’ customers when they pay their invoices. That means that TrueNorth is waiting 30 to 60 days to get paid for jobs, but they're paying their own customers upfront.
10. They raised $11.8 million during their first round of funding
It's already been mentioned that they just finished their second round of funding, which netted them $50 million. During their first round of funding, they raised considerably less, only $11.8 million. The fact that they were able to raise so much more during this most recent second round goes to prove how much more major financial backers are paying attention to their efforts. At first, a lot of people scoffed at what they were trying to do, believing they would fail almost overnight. Today, many of those same potential investors are starting to take them far more seriously.
11. They only have 50 employees
Despite the fact that the company is rapidly growing, they only have about 50 employees. They do plan to hire more people in the near future but at the same time, they also want to keep the company small enough that it can operate efficiently without being so big that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.
12. 25 of their employees are women
They're changing the landscape of this particular industry in another way besides helping independent truckers make money more easily. They've also made waves by ensuring that roughly half of their employees are women. That is an important factor in any industry, but especially when you consider the fact that the trucking industry has traditionally been dominated by males.
13. They can even help truckers get deep discounts on insurance costs
They also help independent truckers save money in another important way. They can help them search for insurance that will ultimately cost them roughly one-third of what most independent truckers pay for insurance on their own. That's a huge discount in and of itself. Instead of paying $30,000 or even $40,000 a year for a policy, truckers can now find one for as little as $10,000.
14. They currently have about 200 customers
Right now, the company has roughly 200 customers. That may not sound like a lot, but it's important to note that they've only been in business for a short while and they are growing on a daily basis. As a result, they anticipate doubling that number in the relatively near future.
15. They secured $10 million in working capital so they could make prompt payments
In addition to the $50 million that they just accumulated in their second round of funding, they also went out on their own and secured an additional $10 million in working capital that is used specifically to pay their customers upfront. That allows them to pay each customer immediately after the completion of a job and then be reimbursed for that cost when the truckers’ clients pay them roughly 30 days after the fact. Securing the money separately from everything else ensures that they're not using money that they've raised through their funding to pay their clients. In short, it's a good business practice.
16. They’ve already developed a reputation for helping people find the best jobs
So far, they have a stellar reputation. In fact, they've developed a reputation for helping their customers find the best jobs in the shortest possible amount of time. That fact alone has generated a lot of buzz about the company, something that helps them grow their bottom line as well.
17. So far, they haven’t placed a major focus on marketing
At the moment, they haven't felt the need to place a major focus on marketing. To date, all of their customers have come to them on their own accord, many of them through word of mouth. It's astonishing to think that they have experienced this level of success early on with virtually no advertising. It leads one to wonder what they could accomplish if they did advertise.
18. Roughly 90% of their customers recommend them to someone else
As opposed to focusing on marketing, they've been placing most of their focus on getting results for their customers. It definitely seems to be working, as roughly 90% of their current customers recommend their services to other independent truckers. That's quite an endorsement in and of itself.
19. They charge a percentage of each load
They make money by charging anywhere from 15% to 18% of the value of each load. Some people might think that this sounds like a lot of money, but it's shocking to note that the standard in trucking is for independent truckers to be charged somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% from each load, meaning that they only get to keep a little more than half of what they actually deliver. This way, they're getting to keep closer to 80% of their profits.
20. Their current profits are up by more than 3.4% in the last six months alone
The company is growing rapidly, as previously discussed. As a matter of fact, they've grown by 3.4% in the last six months alone. That's an astonishing amount of growth. It's exciting to see where they will take this success in the future, especially with regard to the funding that they just secured.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee