Expectations Exceeded Every Year
Each month NPTC President and CEO Gary Petty writes a column in Fleet Owner magazine that focuses on the individuals, companies, best practices, and resources that make private trucking the force that it is in the American economy. Reaching more than 100,000 subscribers, three-quarters of whom are private fleet professionals, this column provides an excellent forum to communicate the value of the private fleet. Click here to view the archive.
Gary Petty | email@example.com | Private Fleet Editor for FleetOwner Magazine
Gary Petty has more than 30 years of experience as CEO of national trade associations in the trucking industry. He has been the president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council since 2001.
“The company’s warm and family-like culture is… definitely a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining talent.” —Tim Eckhardt, CTP, director of safety at Dot Foods Inc.
DOT Transportation Inc. (DTI)/Dot Foods Inc. is a family-owned and -operated food redistribution business. The company, which was the 2021 winner of the Fleet Owner 500 Private Fleet of the Year award, serves thousands of small, medium, and large wholesale food distributors and food manufacturers across the country.
Tim Eckhardt, CTP, is director of safety at Dot Foods Inc. and is a member of the NPTC Board of Directors and chair of NPTC’s Safety Committee. Eckhardt was honored in April with the 2022 NPTC Private Fleet Safety Professional of the Year award.
Raised in the rural community of Vandalia, Illinois, briefly the state capital where Abraham Lincoln served in the state legislature, Eckhardt attended Vandalia High School, worked after school and during summer breaks to buy a car, hunted and fished, and played basketball. His dad was a rural mail carrier, his mother worked in a local bank, and his grandfather ran a repair shop.
After graduation, Eckhardt attended a state two-year college studying business while also working at an IGA grocery store and at Walmart. He then transferred to Eastern Illinois University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a high school teaching certificate. Later, he completed his MBA from William Woods University.
Eckhardt joined Sherwin-Williams out of college as a management trainee. Over the next four years, he moved up in title from assistant store manager to store manager and relocated his family to several different cities until he arrived in Quincy, Illinois, where he put down roots. He and his wife, an assistant principal at a Quincy K-5 Elementary School, have two teenage sons.
After switching jobs for a few years as a department manager/assistant store man-ager at Lowe’s, Eckhardt landed a coveted role as senior transportation manager at Dot Transportation in 2012. In 2019, he was promoted to director of safety.
“I feel fortunate and very blessed at Dot Transportation,” Eckhardt said. “The company’s warm and family-like culture is an amazing experience. It is definitely a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining talent.”
“Here, titles are not as important as people. Respect and the Golden Rule carry the day,” Eckhardt continued. “And you can turn the ship a lot quicker, so to speak, in getting things done. DTI employees are passionate about their work and have a strong sense of loyalty. Performance expectations are high, and complacency is never acceptable. The Tracy family is directly involved in management and committed to the company’s long-term success.”
“Last year was one of the best years ever for Dot Foods, and projections are for another record year in 2022,” Eckhardt said. “Our private fleet meets the company’s needs very effectively. ‘Fleet justification’ is already built into our business model of best practices and continuous improvement.”
Eckhardt and his team oversee U.S. Department of Transportation compliance, driver training, accidents, claims management, and DTI’s in-house CDL schools for a Dot Transportation fleet that consists (as of May 2022) of 1,800 full-time drivers (up from 1,600 in 2019) in the U.S. and Canada.
“We seek premium drivers—and find them—with one of the best overall pay and benefits packages in the industry,” Eckhardt said. He proudly holds a Class A CDL.
Eckhardt’s engagement with NPTC began in 2014 at the annual conference. He attended the safety conference in 2017 and in 2018 went through the Private Fleet Management Institute (PFMI) and earned his Certified Transportation Professional credential.
“There is a great deal of value in the culture,” Eckhardt emphasized. “I have an excellent network of connections I’ve stayed in touch with over the years. Dot Transportation is fully invested in NPTC. Every year Dot sends eight to 10 employees to the annual conference to build their knowledge and foster industry relationships.”
“We keep a two- to three-year plan of employees we want to invest in and go through PFMI and CTP programs,” he continued. “What we get out of NPTC is actually extraordinary. There’s no organization like it in the industry. My expectations are exceeded every year.”
Tim Eckhardt Photo: NPTC