“Dart Transit Company is built solidly on the success of its owner operators,” says Dart Director of Communications Steve Gundale. That philosophy goes back to 1934 when Earl Oren founded the one-truck company he later incorporated as Dart Transit Company.
Times were tough and Oren couldn’t afford additional equipment so he turned to owner-operators, believing that independent contractors had more ambition and needed less supervision than company drivers. More than three quarters of a century later, 100 percent of Dart drivers are still independent contractors.
Dart contractor Perry Famularo, who has been driving since he left the Marine Corps in 1974, says Dart is committed to the independent driver. “They’re always willing to help out. It’s simple really: You treat them right and they’ll treat you right,” he says.
When hiring contractors, Dart looks for safe, professional owner-operators with independent and positive attitudes, says Gundale. “We offer sign-on bonuses that range from $1,000 to $3,000. For those who want to become owner-operators, Dart offers an exceptional lease-purchase program through participating truck and finance vendors. Offerings include $995 lease-purchase trucks with comprehensive warranties.
Dart also offers a fuel cost adjustment program that pays on both loaded and empty dispatched miles. “And contractors who fuel within Dart’s Advantage Fuel Network receive powerful tools they can use to minimize their fuel cost, such as online pricing for the 1,200 fuel stops in the network, fuel and route available via satellite and negotiated discounts,” Gundale says.
In 2010, contractor fuel discounts totaled $7.4 million dollars, which was an average of $.175 cents per gallon, or about $3,360 per contractor, according to the company. “These discounts are additional profit for the contractors,” says Gundale.
Dart’s efforts have paid off. In 2010 the company was named the Number One Fleet for Owner-Operators and the Best Fleet to Drive For by the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge. Seven times the TCA has named Dart Drivers as Independent Contractors of the Year and three times Dart contractors have held the Overdrive Trucker of the Year title.
“Awards are one way to measure the quality of an organization,” Gundale says. “Service awards from customers demonstrate the quality and consistency of the service we provide and we could not provide award-winning service without our contractors. They are literally the best in the industry,” he says.
“Business is very strong right now. This is a very good time to contract with Dart Transit Company and it’s an extraordinarily good time to become an owner-operator.”