People Person: A. Duie Pyle’s Peter Latta
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.
Trucking company A. Duie Pyle, Inc., celebrated its 90th year in business earlier this year. Started in 1924, this trucking company is now moving into its fourth generation of family ownership.
Leading that charge is Peter Latta, Chairman and CEO, who recently took the time to conduct a Question and Answer session with us:
What was the original vision on which your company was built?
Like many of the companies founded in the early days of trucking, A. Duie Pyle started as a one truck – one driver operation. As the company grew, and to this day, our vision is that a company needs two things to be successful: the company must be profitable and its employees must be happy. It takes both, and you cannot have one without the other. This vision is grounded on the belief that our business is a “people business.” It always has been, and it always will be.
Did you have a background in trucking before taking over?
Pyle is a third generation owned family business, transitioning to the fourth generation of ownership. I grew up working in the business during high school and college, working in customer service, on the dock, in the shop, and driving trucks. Though I practiced as a CPA and lawyer, our family business was always in my blood, and I returned to work in the family business when my dad developed some health issues. We have a great team of people at Pyle, the “Pyle People,” and I am thankful to work with such a wonderful and loyal group.
Do you have a personal mantra or business philosophy? If so, how do you incorporate that into your company culture?
At the center of our Pyle Culture is our number one core value and the Golden Rule, “treat others as you wish to be treated.” For us, this includes customers, vendors, and fellow teammates, and we work to instill this in all of Pyle’s People.
What will you never change?
We are old fashioned in today’s world where commitment and loyalty seem to be a relic of the past. We believe that to gain the loyalty of our Pyle People, we have to extend our loyalty and commitment to them, too. It is a two way street. We want good people to join the Pyle team, we want to help them achieve success in their occupational career and in providing for their families, and it is our hope that when they leave Pyle, it is because they are retiring.
What do you wish you could do over?
I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were growing up, and that my father and I could have had more years working together before he died.
Where would you like to take the company now?
For every 100 family businesses that are started, only 10 successfully make it to the 3rd generation of ownership, and only 3 out of 100 make it to the 4th generation. I like challenges, and I view 3% odds as a worthy challenge, so I have been very focused on building the plan to support successful succession and continuity of our family business to the next generation and hopefully beyond. At Pyle, we believe it is our responsibility as owners to make those decisions which are in the best long-term interests of the currently 2,300+ Pyle stakeholders who work hard each day to make Pyle successful. What better way to meet this owner obligation than to remain a family owned business committed to the same core values which have allowed Pyle to be an employer of choice and grow during its first 90 years?
Any new programs your company has implemented?
On new power units we are purchasing, we have been transitioning to automatic transmissions and our city LTL drivers love them. We recently launched a dedicated driver and equipment service offering, which is a nice complement to our legacy LTL and truckload businesses. We expect strong growth in our new dedicated business.
What do you think the future holds for the trucking industry?
I think our industry will remain very competitive and capital intensive. Increased governmental regulations won’t make it any easier for privately owned family businesses to survive. At Pyle, we will continue to pursue our market position vision, which is to have the best people using the best processes and best technology to safely deliver the best service in the market at the lowest engineered production cost.
What is the biggest short-term challenge facing our industry?
For a multitude of reasons, I think driver supply will continue to be a great challenge for our industry. The driver population is aging, and there are not enough new people making careers in trucking. It is why we developed the Pyle Truck Driving Academy, where we pay Pyle People from our dock and warehouse operations to spend 8 weeks training full-time to become a Class A CDL professional driver. It costs us about $20,000 per graduate, but we believe investing in our Pyle People to expand their skill set is a very worthy investment.
What’s your favorite driver story?
One of our very productive drivers, who you almost have to run alongside of to keep up with him, was so intent on getting to the next stop that he closed and locked the rollup door of his trailer at the customers where he had just completed delivery. When he got to his next stop down the street and opened the trailer door, he not only had his freight on the trailer, but to his surprise he also found his customer from the prior stop.
What is your best or most unique driver benefit?
We have a strong and balanced compensation package with an excellent benefit program including two retirement plans: a pension plan funded entirely by Pyle and a 401K plan which Pyle matches. In today’s world, it is very unusual for a person to have two retirement plans. I think our culture and work environment is very unique and valued by our people who make our culture what it is.
Do you have any interesting hobbies away from work?
I love to work and the people I work with, and in many ways it feels like a hobby. My interests outside of work are my wife, four children and two grandchildren, my German Shorthair Pointer bird hunting dogs, and my larger than life vegetable garden and 30+ fruit trees.
My new hobby I am just starting is raising beef cattle for our family. I jokingly said to my wife that I am in charge of the steaks, and she is in charge of the steers… she failed to appreciate my attempted humor.
What kind of career opportunities is A. Duie Pyle currently offering?
We have significant career opportunities across a wide range of skill-sets, including LTL, regional, and dedicated driver positions. For example, company drivers for Pyle’s Truckload Solutions division experience the benefits of working for a family-owned company that’s growing to meet the specialized needs of the Northeast. With demand for quality regional truckload carriers on the rise, top performing drivers like ours gain added stability.
Other benefits include:
- Weekly pay averages more than 62 cents per mile
- Home every weekend
- Annual Performance Bonus program
- Paid vacation and holidays
- Medical, dental, vision
- EZ Pass and fuel card
- Assigned tractors
- APUs for reduced idling & improved comfort
- Paid weekly through direct deposit
- Paid orientation
How can an interested driver become part of the A. Duie Pyle team?
Call 800-733-4596 to speak with a recruiter. There are also opportunities for owner operators, who can average $1.84 per mile and receive weekly settlements. Interested owner operators can apply by phone at 888-477-0020 (then press 7) or log onto www.driveforpyle.com.