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Small Fleet Championship semi-finalist Til Friday holds strong in the face of declining rates

Til Friday Trucking, led by Michelle Hefner out of Maiden, North Carolina, puts all its chips on a simple bet, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. The now two-time Small Fleet Champ semi-finalist operates five trucks with two employed drivers and two owner-operators, only runs local, has drivers home most every night and weekend, and guarantees minimum daily pay to available drivers, whether they run or not. 

Overdrive's Small Fleet Champ logoThis is one of 10 Small Fleet Champ semi-finalist profiles that will run throughout the next month. Perhaps the secret to Hefner's success lies right there in the name. "People remember the name," said Hefner. "We don’t get paid til Friday, and we own our own company, so we're only gonna work til Friday."

In a trucking industry that so often demands work-life balance be sacrificed at the altar of productivity, Hefner and Til Friday hold the line against weekend work, driver detention, repair bills, and virtually every other irritant in the business with a well-thought-out model that's seen the fleet double its size over the last five years. Since our first profile of the fleet, Michelle Hefner and company have persevered through the storm of high fuel and declining rates with a close eye on fuel discounts and active engagement with customers. 

The past 12 months have brought newly intense bid competition from larger  trucking companies, she said. "Rates have slipped so much and the bidding has gotten really tough trying to compete with bigger companies -- and you just can’t do it." She's lost some business on account, including a dedicated Monday run that had been like clockwork for Til Friday until recently.

That customer and some others have moved away from traditional annual bidding to every six months, inviting brokers into the second round. That's when she lost the lane, holding the line on the rate she needed to remain profitable. 

She makes up for lost work by engaging with other local companies with potential business. "I'm working on picking up a couple more" now, she said in August.