When he was in high school, Sikander “Shawn” Sekhon came to the U.S. from India. “My parents sent me here by myself, and I didn’t speak any English,” he says.
Sekhon, who goes by his last name, knew he needed to find a way to make a living after college. So he learned English, got into construction, then drove a truck for a couple of years with his childhood friend Mani Litt.
Then he and Mani decided to start their own trucking company.
Expanding from intermodal to dry van loads
At National Trucking Services in Kent, Washington, Mani handles the maintenance and equipment and Sekhon handles the accounting and paperwork. A few years ago, Sekhon’s cousin Guri Bhathal joined them to help run the business. At the time, the fleet was small and focused solely on intermodal local freight.
As the dispatcher, Guri saw a huge opportunity to grow. “When I started, we had three dispatchers, 20 trucks, and were only doing intermodal,” Guri says. “After about six months, I said we should start doing dry van.”
When Guri suggested expanding to long-haul dry vans, Sekhon and Mani were willing to give it a shot. Guri told Sekhon to get ready to meet customers the next day.
“We drove to a huge warehouse in Seattle,” Sekhon said, “We drove there and Guri said, ‘So, who should we meet here? There’s a lot of trucks here.’”
It was then that Sekhon realized Guri had a good idea — but didn’t yet have a good plan. Sekhon told Guri, “If you want to start, let’s call the brokers.”
They were excited when they earned their first dry van load — but after their driver picked up the load, he hit a low-hanging power line. It wasn’t the best start, but they’ve operated smoothly since. “That was the only bad incident we had happen,” Sekhon says with a smile.
“We started with one truck on dry van, and today, we have 100 trucks with plans to grow more,” Guri says.
Guri, Sekhon, and Mani saw an opportunity to build the NTS business by expanding the type of freight they hauled. They also saw an opportunity when a friend told them about Convoy, a free app that could help them find, book and dispatch loads.
Growing the business with Convoy
Today, National Trucking Services is a 100-truck carrier — half dry van, half intermodal. They run between 25 and 30 percent of their business with Convoy, and they credit the platform for their growth.
“Convoy is our partner because they help us to grow,” Mani says. He also credits Convoy with saving time finding loads — and less time spent on the phone.
Guri agrees. “After starting with Convoy, we increased our fleet by 30 trucks,” Guri says. “It’s a good company with a good amount of volume. It helped us build our business and customer base in California — something we could never do before.”
They also appreciate the freedom Convoy gives them.
“With Convoy, I can book loads whenever I want,” Guri says. “If I’m sitting free, I can look at the app and see if there are loads available. The other brokers, I have to make calls. That’s the best part about Convoy: being able to search and book loads when it’s convenient.”
Hiring good drivers — and keeping them happy
Guri takes advantage of market slowdowns to focus on hiring and training good drivers. “When the market gets really crazy, no one wants to leave their company and it’s hard to recruit drivers. Now is the time for us to hire.”
He trains drivers to use the Convoy app. “We tell them if they don’t use the app, we can’t put them on Convoy loads, so they won’t be as busy as the other drivers.”
Guri enjoys the ability to search for loads on lanes NTS likes to run and the ability to place bids, all in one place. Plus, if a driver has an issue on a Convoy load, they can get help within the app. “Convoy’s app saves us time, because we aren’t getting so many phone calls, and our drivers can take care of issues themselves,” he says.
But the best part of using the app? “The main thing we love about Convoy is QuickPay,” he shares. “If we go to other brokers, they take percentages. Convoy doesn’t take a percent. The payment you see if what you receive within days of completing the load.”
In this business, safety is king. Convoy — which has some of the highest safety standards in the industry — rates drivers based on their safety records. Along the same lines, NTS awards safe drivers and drivers with clear inspections with a quarterly bonus. “If they are taking care of our trucks, and taking care of our customers, we try and keep them happy,” Guri says.
Advice for other drivers
Guri has recommended Convoy to other carriers who have started using it. “We have had a good experience with Convoy,” he says. “They are good people who take care of you. It’s a good company. “
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