Our impressions of Landstar BCO Appreciation Days

Updated Feb 6, 2012

I learned today more about our carrier, Landstar Express America, and its parent company, Landstar Systems, Inc. Learned by attending Landstar BCO Appreciation Days in Jacksonville, Fla.

Diane and I woke up this morning in our Florida vacation house where we plan to stay until mid-February. BCO Days is an annual event. Being new to this company, we are attending the event for the first time. We left the house early this morning to arrive at 8:30 a.m. We will stay at a hotel, courtesy of Landstar, tonight and tomorrow night.

The biggest question on our minds this morning was,  is it worth the time and expense to attend this event even when free food and lodging is provided? Is it worth interrupting our vacation for three days? We had our answer by the end of the day. The answer is yes.

I’m not good at estimating large crowd sizes but I think over 1,000 BCO’s (Landstar’s name for contractors) are attending.

Diane and I are pretty good at keeping up with company news, policy changes, developments and scuttlebutt. We already knew most of the info that was shared today in the general sessions.

Part of the event is a mini truck show in a large tent set up for that purpose. We have attended truck shows before and learned little new there.

The afternoon breakout sessions were more informative. We went to the expedite session that was led by the two top men at Landstar Express America; Landstar’s expedite division and carrier with which we run. Their talks and the discussions that followed with the dozen or so BCO’s who were in the room were very interesting and informative. Visiting informally with a group of BCO’s at the hotel this evening was also interesting and informative.

Overall, learning small bits about the company and industry that we did not know and picking up good information about Landstar Express America made the event worth attending. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, we got the chance to visit with a number of fellow BCO’s and pick up insights from them.

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While today was mostly meetings, the event was upbeat and the atmosphere was festive. People are happy at Landstar and it shows.

Most impressive to Diane and me was the openness and honesty of the corporate leaders — residents of the glass palace as one BCO called them. One of the general sessions was an open forum where the vice presidents of various divisions sat on stage and took no-holds-barred questions from BCO’s.

Truck drivers don’t hold much back and they held nothing back here. Unlike the “suits” at our former carrier, Landstar executives did not try to evade driver questions, gloss things over, change the subject or make a promise to look into something when that was actually a ploy to make the question go away. The same was true in the breakout sessions.

Customers were talked about by name. Confidential information was shared about the company. New company strategies that are being considered were announced and discussed. If a vice president knew that a particular answer given to a question asked would be unpopular or difficult, it was given anyway.

Diane and I have only been with two carriers in our eight-year trucking career so I do not have a broad base of experience from which to speak. But I will say the executives at Landstar are cut from a different cloth than most we have met before.

In the presence of truck drivers, Landstar executives were open, honest, friendly, confident, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, intellectually engaged, focused and tough. They don’t mince words and they don’t disrespect the best-of-breed contractors who they know (really, really know) they need to make Landstar’s business model work.

• I also learned today how to properly punctuate and abbreviate state names. Learned by looking it up in a style guide. Notice the great job I did with Jacksonville, Fla., above. My eighth-grade teacher would be proud (finally).

The new blogging I am doing at the Overdrive magazine web site is motivating me to get better at such things. Overdrive is one of many publications that a large publishing company puts out. At least one of my new readers is a professional writer and editor. That’s scary.