On-Time Delivery with Safety Top of Mind
Professional truck drivers leave their egos at home and treat the road and those on it with respect, courtesy, and with safety in mind every time. This safety-mindedness and professionalism are the guiding principles that Gemini Transport has adopted for its drivers. The national freight trucking business, with headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, was founded by Goran Petkovich, who started out with two trucks as a general freight trucking company in 2002.
“Over time, he grew his fleet gradually,” says Leo Caushi, Gemini’s operations manager. “Goran maintains a motto of being a family oriented company … He’s very involved with our day-to-day operations to make sure that our service is top-notch,” he continues. “He considers his employees as part of his extended family.”
Today, Gemini’s national fleet is comprised of 120 trucks, 450 trailers, and 110 professional drivers who serve approximately fifty customers. The company’s main facility also has a warehouse with cross-dock services and on-site trucking and logistics management.
Although it was established as a general freight carrier, the “primary business nowadays is auto freight,” says Leo. The transition began about a decade ago. “Our primary customers are Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Piston Automotive.”
Gemini Transport has a safety department overseen with a safety manager to ensure that, “each driver gets quarterly training in order to be updated with the latest DOT laws and regulations,” he explains. “This business is very dynamic and moves fast, so we want to make sure that all our drivers know the latest rules and regulations.”
Every hour of every day, United States highways are a true test of patience, skill, knowledge, and an eye for surrounding road conditions, encompassed within the framework of the right driver attitude. Defensive driving skills are a crucial aspect of company training, “to avoid accidents and fatalities on the road.”
Every driver is also equipped with the latest technologies so that their jobs can be achieved more efficiently. Equipment such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), tracking devices, and global positioning systems (GPS) are all useful tools.
Gemini’s shipment management system employs software technology that aids the company in managing and tracking shipments, scheduling, updates, and financial details. “It’s sort of a one-stop shop for everything that is needed for this business,” says Leo.
Every successful company wants to confirm that it is meeting its customer’s expectations. Positive customer expectations and experiences maintain trust, lead to loyalty, repeat business, and the all-important competitive advantage.
Gemini Transport has an independent company provide an audit which rates it on communication, performance, and customer service. Then, based on this report, the company works “on things to improve our flaws and improve our customer service,” he says. This enables the company to maintain a focus on its business priorities, “in the ever-changing dynamics of this business.”
In 2012, Gemini Transport partnered with Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), a nonprofit organization established in 1991 with a mandate to create a better economy for Southwest Detroit and focus on better preserving the environment within its communities. Environmental concerns are addressed by working closely with residents, government agencies, community organizations, and industries to improve air quality and monitor land use.
“This is a great partnership,” says Leo, explaining that the benefits have been substantial. The company is ridding itself of older equipment, and SDEV “will take our old equipment and give us a grant in order to get new equipment. The emissions from those old trucks were really high,” he notes. “Now that we’re getting new trucks, the emissions are really low. We’re going in a green direction in order to make sure that all of our equipment has the latest emissions technology – the latest environmental technology – to do our part to save this planet of ours.”
The company is also partnered with SmartWay as a carrier partner in 2015. SmartWay is a voluntary public-private program established in 2004 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The SmartWay program measures and improves the freight industry’s performance by advancing supply chain sustainability based on solid data. “We see SmartWay as a beacon of light in order to see, learn, and comply with a greener earth and to do our part in to keep our environment safe,” he notes.
Leo acknowledges that the shortage of qualified professional drivers in the freight trucking industry is a real concern and one that must be addressed now. According to an article published in TheStreet (July 2018), a conservative estimate of the shortage of truck drivers shows that the industry is lacking more than 60,000 truck drivers in the United States, and this shortage is expected to triple by 2026. Many factors contribute to this shortfall including a retiring workforce, increasing freight demand, and driver turnover rates being high.
“As everybody in this business knows, finding drivers is fairly hard. There are not enough drivers for the industry,” says Leo. The company does provide some incentives to entice drivers such as sign up, performance, and safety bonuses, “if they’re a safe driver, which is the most important aspect of our business. Our primary goal here at Gemini is that we want safe drivers – drivers to be professionals.”
The company welcomes such drivers who realize that interactions with Gemini’s customers are not only a personal representation but a broader representation as well. “They’re actually representing us,” he states, adding that to find such drivers, “is a bit more challenging because this is what we expect. We are very competitive with any other company in the business,” he says. The company has these driver stipulations in place to make sure drivers are doing their part, “as far as being safe, being on time, and being professional.”
Gemini Transport established an import-export sister company in 2018, mainly as a means to expand its services, especially when considering the 2008 to 2010 automotive industry crisis. “We’re trying to have a little bit of diversity as far as going into the different areas of transportation,” says Leo. “Importing and exporting is one of those [with] our expertise in transportation.”
The company’s import and export division, also located in Dearborn, functions as food brokers within wholesale trade, bringing in products from various countries. “We have an agent on site that coordinates that,” he says. “We have Gemini, the transportation company that transports the freight that comes into Detroit to our customers here, as well.” Freight is taken from rail and products are delivered to customers’ facilities. Rather than having an agent, a broker, and a transportation company, customers find all services in one place.
Gemini Transport hopes to expand into Canada and, “move freight into Canada, to initially start within a five-hundred-mile radius from our home terminal and then grow a little bit more,” explains Leo. The company hopes to do the same with its plans for Mexico. “Right now, we go up to Laredo, Texas, which is on the border with Mexico.”
Gemini Transport’s vision is to attain gradual rather than rapid growth. “We want to be able to deliver that safety and that delivery on-time mission statement that we have.”