Driver Recruiting
Menu: m

People Person: Dennis Dellinger creates a sense of belonging at Cargo Transporters

By: Brad Bentley

Brad Bentley

A University of Alabama graduate with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, Bentley spent 15 years as a trucking Publisher before becoming the Editorial Director for Randall-Reilly's Recruiting Media division.


Running a trucking business may ultimately be about results, but there is still an exchange between individuals with a very human component. Thus, an important part of what makes a good fleet president is their ability to connect with others, to build rapport and trust. Good managers are open, friendly and authentic. A great manager with their genuine interest in others naturally puts people at ease. Best Driver Jobs met such a leader recently when we sat down with Dennis Dellinger, President of Cargo Transporters, a mid-size fleet based in Claremont, North Carolina.

Dellinger exudes sincerity like a Starbucks barista makes espresso – consistently, with a personal touch. When you sit in his office, Dellinger clears everything from his desk and gives you his full attention. Dellinger admits he wasn’t always that way and that he learned by listening. “One of our drivers came to see me once, and he told me I wasn’t paying attention. That really bothered me,” Dellinger said.

In an industry where Wi-Fi and top-notch drivers’ facilities are standard these days, what elevates Cargo Transporters is the openness and respect for its people. “I want to be known as fair and someone who respects my employees’ position, and I think myself and John Pope, our Chairman of the Board, have created that culture at Cargo Transporters,” Dellinger declared. “Most of our drivers know me by name and aren’t afraid to approach me. The way I treat our people has a lot to do with the way I was brought up – in life and in the business.”

Life lessons

Learning life lessons began at an early age for Dellinger, one of seven children in a military family. With a father who was often deployed, his mother was an influential person in shaping his beliefs. When Dennis was in the seventh grade, his family moved from North Carolina to Germany, and while there Dennis became friends with a boy named Robert Patton.

It turns out that Robert was the grandson of General George S. Patton, and Dennis noticed that things came easy for Robert. “Coming from a large family we were of modest means not always having the things others had,” Dellinger said. When Dennis mentioned this to his mother, she told him to remember one thing: there is no one better than you and you no better than them.

The message stuck.

“It is a simple philosophy, which I have lived and used as I have managed, allowing me to move forward in life crossing social or economic barriers,” Dellinger said.

Rising through the ranks

In high school, Dellinger wanted to go into an Army ROTC program, but it was discouraged after his father’s experience in Vietnam and the political climate following the war. At the age of 16, he began working at a foam rubber plant and within three years was asked to be in a management training program. “They saw potential in me. I never went to college, but I was driven to get to the next level,” Dellinger stated.

In 1977, he took his talents to a company where his experience included warehousing, packaging, and distribution. Dellinger’s responsibilities soon included management of a small private fleet with both straight trucks and Class 8 equipment, and his career has revolved around the transportation industry and drivers ever since.

By the time Dellinger arrived at Cargo Transporters as a Driver Supervisor in 1986, its fleet was poised for growth.

The company actually began as a small regional rental and leasing operation named Catawba Truck Rental, which was purchased by the Pope and Brown families in 1966. Their original equipment included six tractors and eight trailers. Cargo Transporters was started in 1982 after the deregulation of the motor carrier industry.

It may be safe to say the original vision was to protect market share for the rental and lease company.  The vision shifted in the years that followed to become a provider of quality transportation while at the same time creating employment opportunities in the community.

The latter was very important to Tony Pope, the former Chairman of Cargo Transporters, as the fledgling fleet began seeing growth and prosperity. “I am not a second or third generation family member but an outsider who the family saw potential and eventually trusted to lead their company,” Dellinger disclosed.

Over the years, Dellinger held various positions at Cargo Transporters, including Operations Manager, Asst. General Manager, General Manager, and Vice President of Operations before becoming President in February 2004.

Dellinger gives two people a lot of credit for helping him advance within the organization.  “Tony Pope put much trust in me and spent close to 18 years shaping me before he passed away in 2005. We have always referred to our industry as a people industry, not the trucking industry. Tony created such a culture at Cargo Transporters, and I was able to grow as I complimented the same,” Dellinger stated. “Jerry Sigmon, Sr., our Executive Vice President, is very important in teaching me also. He has the distinction of being the first non-family employee of Cargo Transporters. Jerry began working for Tony at Catawba Truck Rental in 1981, and after they obtained operating authority in late 1982, he moved to Cargo. We work well together. Jerry is good with numbers, so he takes care of the business side and I focus on the personnel side.”

Pushing people up, not out

In addition to good interpersonal skills, executives need proper perspective to effectively lead an organization. Dellinger reflected on how he found this perspective several years ago with a situation involving Larry Atkins, a driver who was domiciled in West Virginia:

“Customers who took a lot of our drivers through that corridor were ever-changing. Loads were going to various places and it required weekend deliveries, yet Larry was never available after Friday afternoon. Some people within our organization struggled with that.

Tragically, less than a year into his tenure at Cargo Transporters, Atkins was killed in an automobile accident. I went to the funeral, and it seemed like the whole town was there. I found out that Larry was very involved in his church, his community, and the Boy Scouts. It gave me a different perspective. Sometimes we in trucking forget that drivers have a life outside of work. That trip changed my mindset on our drivers and how they are perceived. There is life outside of work.

That situation also reminded me that people are always watching you – especially children. I never took up golf and gave up hunting and fishing to make sure I was always around for my daughter. When she was 16, she told her mother I was her favorite person in the world. She remains my proudest accomplishment.”

Image is everything

Dellinger thinks our industry must address its overall image, and he is doing his part to make an impact beyond the fleet he manages. For the past two years, Dellinger has served as the Co-Chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Communications & Image Policy Committee, providing guidance and assistance for TCA’s Independent Contractor and Company Equipment Driver contests, their Scholarship Fund, and programs like Highway Angel, Wreaths Across America, and the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Dellinger sees image as a way to combat the biggest short term challenge for our industry – attracting qualified drivers. “There are many barriers, including age, criminal records, driving records, and physical limitations that reduce the pool of applicants,” Dellinger declared. “Safety on our highways will do more to improve image than most give credit.”

Safety First

Safety is not just a priority at Cargo Transporters, it is an unconditional requirement. The fleet continues to be progressive when it comes to in-cab and safety technology – a commitment that began years ago when they implemented Qualcomm’s mobile communication in 1992. “We immediately saw benefits beyond a communication platform and used Qualcomm’s product to enhance safety by using the product to report state mileages for fuel tax reporting. I share this only to take one back in time when a driver was required to pencil his/her odometer readings each time he/she crossed a state line for fuel tax reporting, Dellinger stated. “Try to think about a driver going down the road at 65mph, reaching for his/her pencil and pad, turning on the interior light to see the odometer to then view and transfer to paper a series of numbers. And this was different from today’s texting, how?”

Cargo Transporters quickly moved to ABS brakes before it became an industry standard. This was followed by installation of automatic transmissions, collision avoidance systems, lane guidance systems and anti-roll over systems. They also installed electronic logs during a six-week period in 2008, a move that resulted in less alerts when CSA was implemented in 2010.

“Our newest safety programs include mandatory safety training which we began in 2010 and installation of DriveCam front and cab-facing event recorders which we began in 2011,” Dellinger added. “The DriveCam units were a progressive step for safety, and there was some pushback that we addressed during monthly roundtable meetings. The results have been improved skills and drivers taking fewer risks.”

Cargo Transporters has developed a culture of safety, and their hard work is being recognized. In May, their Safety Director, Jerry Waddell, received TCA’s Clare C. Casey Award, which recognizes the outstanding safety person of the year. In September, Cargo Transporters received first place in the North Carolina Trucking Association’s outstanding achievement in highway miles for fleets over 25 million miles. Most recently, they were recipients of ATA’s Safety Management Council 2012 President’s Trophy for mid-size carriers.

“We want to be known as the little company that is very safe, not only for the drivers, but for the motoring public,” Dellinger said. “We also want our employees’ families to know we focus on safety.”

Clean machines

Having late-model trucks also helps with the safety efforts at Cargo Transporters, who continued to purchase equipment during the recent economic downturn – including 99 new trucks this year.

Prospective drivers for Cargo Transporters will find clean, well-maintained trucks waiting for them. More importantly, they will find an approachable advocate in Dennis Dellinger, who is ready to lead by helping others.

“I’m the face of the organization, and I want to be a good mentor, but there is much greater power in our people onsite,” Dellinger said. “We have good people in place and now is the time to tell our story.”

If you want to hear that story personally, Dennis Dellinger has a chair waiting for you in his office.
For your opportunity with Cargo Transporters, call 877-354-0176 or log onto www.cargotransporters.com today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms, Conditions, HireRight/DAC and PSP Release

Terms and Conditions

In order to use this website to locate job opportunities, you have agreed your use is subject to the Terms and Conditions of this website.

Privacy Statement

This Policy informs you of the information practices for this website, including the type of personal information we collect, how the information is used and with whom the information is shared. This Policy applies only to the information collected on this website. If you are not comfortable with using this website in accordance with this Policy, please exit the site immediately.

This Policy and the Terms may change at any time. Your information on gathered by this site will be treated in accordance with the privacy policy in effect as of the date you provide information to us. If you do not agree with the privacy practices described in a policy, you should not provide us with information. Because your use of this site after changes have been posted indicates your agreement with these changes, we encourage you to regularly visit this Policy and the Terms. If you have questions about the privacy practices of this site, please contact administrator of this site.

This Policy is effective upon the launching of this site.

Application Submission

By submitting this application I certify that I personally completed this application and that all of the information is true and correct. I hereby request and authorize Carrier Companies and their agents or contractors that receive this application to cause to be conducted, at any time, an investigation of my background for employment purposes, which may include, but is not limited to, any information relating to my character, general reputation, personal characteristics, mode of living, criminal history, past work experience, educational background, alcohol or drug test results, or failure to submit to an alcohol or drug test, or any other information about me which may reflect upon my potential for employment gathered from any individual, organization, entity, agency, or other source which may have knowledge concerning any such items of information. I have completed this application of my own free will and hold harmless of all liability all companies, agents and associated parties for the use of this application. As part of our consideration of your application, the DOT requires companies to investigate your employment background. As part of this investigation, they may obtain consumer reports about you from HireRight/DAC as well as obtaining information about your driving record from the FMCSA and/or the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP). HireRight and DAC are consumer reporting agencies. Any decision they make not to hire you based on information contained in your consumer reports will be their decision alone. HireRight/DAC does not make any decisions concerning your employment with these companies and will not know the specific reasons why they may decide not to hire you. In the event you are not hired based on information contained in your consumer reports, the companies themselves will tell you. We also advise you of your right to obtain a free copy of the consumer report from HireRight/DAC and your right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of your report. Your consent for these companies to obtain the report from HireRight/DAC is required. Although you have a right to withhold your consent, companies will not consider your application if you withhold your consent.

By submitting this application I authorize Carrier Companies and their agents or contractors that receive this application to obtain may obtain one or more reports regarding my driving, and safety inspection history from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Any decision they make not to hire me based on information contained in your FMCSA reports will be their decision alone. I authorize Carrier Companies and their agents or contractors to access the FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) system to seek information regarding my commercial driving safety record and information regarding my safety inspection history. I understand that I am consenting to the release of safety performance information including crash data from the previous five (5) years and inspection history from the previous three (3) years. I understand and acknowledge that this release of information may assist Prospective Employers in making a determination regarding my suitability as an employee. I further understand that neither the Prospective Employers nor the FMCSA contractor supplying the crash and safety information has the capability to correct any safety data that appears to be incorrect. I understand I may challenge the accuracy of the data by submitting a request to https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov. If I am challenging crash or inspection information reported by a State, FMCSA cannot change or correct this data. I understand my request will be forwarded by the DataQs system to the appropriate State for adjudication.

Collection of Your Information

We collect personal information that you voluntarily submit to us when you complete a job application or complete any other online form or survey. The personal information we request may include your name, social security number and contact information (including address, email address and telephone number) as well as information about your past employment, driving record, criminal history and other information relevant to potential recruiters and employers.

We also collect tracking information as you navigate the Web Site. This information may include certain information relating to you, such as your Internet address, Internet service provider, type of operating system, the time and date you accessed this site and the Internet address from which you arrived at at this site. We may also collect information from you through the use of a "cookie". A cookie is a small file that a web site can sent to your internet browser and is stored on your computer. This type of technology is designed to tell us when you reenter this site, where you visit within the site, and the type of browser you used. You are not required to accept any cookie we might use, although some areas of this site may not be operational without the use of cookies. You can disable cookies on your computer by changing the settings in your browser. The information collected helps us identify data relating to usage and trends, address any problems with website administration and to further improve this site.

Use of Your Information

By submitting your information, you grant us consent to use this information for the purpose of providing the information to interested potential recruiters and employers and other industry related organizations. We do not correct, verify, modify or supplement the information you provide to us. We are not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the information you provide. We simply provide the information you submit on this site to a potential recruiter or employer or other industry related organizations at their request. We are not an employment agency and are not your agent. Other than providing the information you submit on to this site to a potential recruiter or employer or other industry related organizations, we are not responsible in any way for assisting you in obtaining employment nor are we responsible for any employment conditions or employment relationship you may obtain, as a result of using this site. We are not responsible for any use, disclosure, protection or security of the information you submit on this site after the information leaves the possession of the ownership of this site. We may also use the information you provide on this site to communicate with you through direct communications, emails, newsletters etc.

If after filling out an application you decide not to maintain the information you provided or provide your information to potential recruiters and employers, other industry related organizations you should contact the administrator of this site. As you direct the site will cease maintaining your information and/or providing it to potential recruiters and employers.

Once you have found a job or wish to stop receiving communications from our site any email correspondance we have with you will contain an Unsubscribe / Opt-out link that will remove you from those communications from that time forward. You can also email info@besttruckdriverjob.com.

Sharing Your Information with Third Parties

This site will share the information you submit on this site to potential recruiters and employers and other industry related organizations, at their request. The site may disclose your information if we believe it is necessary to comply with law or governmental authorities or in connection with litigation, dispute resolution, or administration of this Policy. The site may disclose or receive your information in connection with a possible sale, purchase, merger or other reorganization of a business.

Retaining Your Information

The site will retain personal information collected through this site for as long as it is needed to fulfill the purpose for which the information was provided or as required by law.

Security of Your Information

To protect the information we receive, this site uses certain security measures designed to guard against the loss, misuse and alteration of that information. These measures include physical, technical and administrative controls including using a secure socket layer (SSL). It should be recognized, however, that we cannot guarantee that transmission of data over the Internet will be absolutely secure. Due to the open nature of the Internet, the information you provide may be in environments that do not have adequate security measures and may be accessed and used by persons other than those intended. As a result, while protection of your information is important to us, the site is not able to ensure the security of information you transmit to us via the Internet and you assume the risk of any third party obtaining that information. Upon receipt of your information, This site will strive to ensure its security on our systems.

Links to other Web Sites

This site may contain links to other web sites. If you choose to access those sites, please review the privacy policy applicable to each site. The links to other sites are made available as a convenience to you and this site is not responsible for the privacy policies and information collection practices of those other sites.

Global Presence

The management, operation and technical processes and systems used by this site may involve transfer of information across borders. For example, information you give may be sent to systems outside the country in which you initially provided the information and it may be processed and stored in a different country. Regardless of where you provide your information, this site will take steps to handle it in a secure manner in accordance with this Policy and applicable law.