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3 reasons we see people flipping to a fuel card:
“My team is helping customers during this pandemic and we have a wide variety of issues we deal with for our customers. We’ve planted the seed in our customers’ minds to say ‘Please let us know what your needs are. We want to help you through this crisis.’ Our customers who are sheltering in place find they don’t have access to the systems they normally have in their office. We are helping them take care of their employees, meet payroll, and even when working from home seamlessly run their business. As a result, their drivers on the road can continue to take care of the work of delivering goods and essential services.” WEXer LaTaschia Velasquez, Fleet
LaTaschia Velasquez has been helping WEX customers in the trucking industry for almost eight years. During this particularly difficult time for the world with the coronavirus turning everything upside down and forcing a lot of us to shelter in place, she feels particularly proud of her customers and feels a fondness and care for them which is reflected in her work.
— WEXer LaTaschia Velasquez, Account Management Team Lead, Fleet
“I have been passionate about helping my customers and making sure that they have the tools and resources that they need to keep their trucks running during this crazy time. I have wonderful clients that have made the transition to working from home or have taken on extra responsibilities to reduce the amount of staff that is needed in their offices each day. I have been amazed at their dedication to not only keep delivering the goods and products that we need but their dedication in taking care of their drivers. I have one client that I know has loaded extra funds to their drivers’ cards so their drivers could purchase cleaning supplies to keep their trucks safe.”
— WEXer Katherine Harmon, Fleet
“I would say that whether we are talking to a client or a vendor, it is great to hear that so many companies (including our own) are doing their best to get employees working safely from home whenever possible. Also, the people that are working from home are doing their best to keep business going as usual so that customers, vendors, and partners alike don’t miss a beat even though they may be working with limited resources or without all the tools they are used to having. I am impressed with how well most businesses and employees are handling all of the changes during this trying time.”
— WEXer Kate McAndrew, Client Specialist, Corporate Payments
“The transition to working from home has been an unexpected change for many. Due to world events, it’s allowed us to see things in a proper perspective. We are now focused on our wellness as well as genuine concern and care for one another. One thing that I know for sure, is that our WEX team is comprised of resilient individuals who strive to bring a sense of normalcy back into our lives. More than ever before, we understand the importance of work and family balance. Although we are spatially apart we have grown closer as a team through daily online huddles as well as sharing momentous pictures of our home life and pets. Our spirits are definitely high. Integrity, Innovation, Execution, Relationships, and Community have taken on a whole new meaning for all of us.”
— WEXer Tamela Mills-Stephens, Customer Service Support I – Triage, Corporate Payments
AllCard is our card production vendor in Ontario, Canada who produces and ships cards to our Fleet customers located in Canada.
When the provinces of Ontario and Quebec announced lockdowns in late March due to COVID-19, WEX supported AllCard in their efforts to gain “essential service provider” exemptions from the lockdowns. Having essential service provider status would allow them to keep producing our cards without disruption. On their behalf, we argued that our card products provide the ability to procure fuel for first responders and truckers that are keeping the supply chains open and flowing for critical supplies to be distributed all across North America. AllCard was soon granted the essential service provider exemption and have been manufacturing and shipping our cards without disruption since.
Since that time, AllCard has expanded its operations to produce PPE equipment for those on the front lines of the pandemic. Specifically, they have been working on the design of a Face Shield using equipment they have on hand for card production. They are reconfiguring some of their production equipment to manufacture these Face Shields and are using materials that are coming directly out of their card plant located in Cambridge, Ontario — the same one where they manufacture our customer’s cards.
“WEX has always taken pride in building partnerships with our vendors and this is a perfect example. As Ontario was looking to shut down non-essential services our newest partner, AllCard, reached out to us on March 23rd to provide support to obtain “essential service provider” status. AllCard received that status within the next 24 hours and now they are able to pay it forward by reconfiguring their production equipment to support the front line workers in the fight against the Coronavirus.”
“Love’s believes professional truck drivers are the heroes of the highway. By serving them, we’re participating in getting America’s vital goods, including medical and food supplies, delivered throughout the country. We’re particularly proud of drivers who are delivering fuel and other important commodities to keep the country running during the fight against COVID-19.”
Love’s has shown their appreciation for truck drivers who are out on the roads today in various ways:
“The major truck stop chains have always been an invaluable resource for truck drivers and have become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to them for providing critical fuel and a safe environment for over-the-road truckers. During a nationwide shut down as we are currently experiencing, the resources they provide are crucial for these drivers to make sure critical supplies, including medical supplies and equipment, are delivered in the most efficient and timely manner possible,” says WEXer Lynn Alexander, Vice President of Client Service Operations.
D&D is committed to keeping their business up and running as they, like others, face many challenges. They are out on the roads every day delivering goods to keep products on the shelves for those of us sheltering in place. Because they are a small operation, it’s all hands on deck: they don’t have the bandwidth to provide back-up if people are not able to come into work. While they do have a few employees working from home, they feel it’s important that they be in the office for the constant interaction needed with the company’s drivers. And their drivers are on full force out there making deliveries through this pandemic.
As Heisten puts it, “We have good freight coming out of our core customer base but backhauls have died down substantially. A lot of our contracts involve making deliveries to places like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Burger King distributers. With many stores shuttered, that type of freight is drying up, and we are doing more delivery transactions with brokers. They are paying high rates to haul, which had included bonuses, but there are no longer offering bonuses. A majority of our freight is shuttle movement within a 125-mile range for food manufacturing businesses. I have heard that Walmart has pushed orders to new levels. Their biggest single day to date was 2.3 million pounds shipped which last weekend went up to 3.2 million pounds. These numbers have since leveled out to normal levels of pounds shipped.”
Some of the things drivers are faced with are long delays loading and unloading, and an inability to find places to eat on the road but their spirits remain high and they are grateful to be able to continue to bring in an income.
“Rusty Heisten and his team at D&D Sexton have been putting in long hours to ensure their drivers can stay on the road and keep food deliveries happening all across the country. They are out in the field every day keeping the economy going. I’ve been working with Rusty for 19 years and his passion for trucking has always impressed me. We are proud to support him and his company and help them get through this difficult time,” says Bridget King, Manager of Account Services, WEX.
Mercer Transportation, founded by Bill Howard and Jim Stone, has been in business since 1977, based in Louisville, Kentucky. As Brian Helton describes it, “So here’s the crazy part. These guys started up a trucking company and they had zero trucks. And neither one of them drove a truck. But they had the right to haul freight if they could just figure out how to get some trucks.”
What Mercer did back then to get their business off the ground is what is now referred to as trip leasing. Before every load, Stone and Howard would meet each truck driver, inspect their equipment and let them run under their authority for one trip. Once Stone and Howard got a couple of trip leasers, they started telling people they were ready to haul freight. They built a fleet of over 2,000 trucks that way. Just one driver at a time. Nowadays drivers lease on under Mercer’s authority and haul just for Mercer. Mercer now has 2,300 independent contractors hauling freight for them.
While Mercer has many types of freight that they haul, the U.S. Government is their biggest customer for whom they haul military equipment across all 50 states. This was what Jason Miller was hauling when he ended up with Vienna Sausages for dinner a few weeks ago.
As Helton describes it, this is what happened: “Just two weeks ago, when things were just starting to get kind of spooky with COVID-19, we had a driver over in West Virginia, Jason Miller, who had just left home that afternoon and after driving for several hours was ready to get a bite to eat before settling in for the night. It just so happened that he’d hit the road on a day when people in the area were beginning to be concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. Truck stops weren’t really sure how they were going to serve people yet and where Miller had pulled off to purchase a meal, in Richmond, Kentucky, that particular truck stop had temporarily shut down the restaurant and they were in the process of cleaning everything. The employees at the truck stop were in limbo waiting to find out how they were going to proceed to help prevent the spread of the disease. Miller ended up picking up a can of Libby’s Vienna Sausages at a local convenience store to satisfy his hunger for the night: that was dinner. He’s talking to his wife on the phone telling her his whole story of woe and unbeknownst to them, their son, Logan, is eavesdropping on the conversation. The next day, Logan, a thirteen-year-old boy, takes his allowance to Sam’s Club, makes lunches, and goes up to the truck stop near his home and hands out lunches to the truck drivers there at the truck stop. This kid’s spent $100 of his own money, built up from his allowance, to make sure these drivers don’t go hungry. That’s an awesome story from the field.”
“We’re so proud of Logan Miller and grateful to his dad, Jason, and to all the truck drivers out there on the road for our customer, Mercer Transportation. Thank you for making sure supplies are continuing to be transported during this pandemic,” says Donniss Leathers, National Account Manager, WEX.
Here’s a wonderful radio interview with Brian Helton, Logan Miller, and his dad, Jason Miller. (Mercer Owner Operator)
Video of Logan Miller talking about what he did:
TA/Petro Stopping provides places along the major arteries across the U.S. for truckers to refuel, grab a bite to eat, use shower and restroom facilities, and take a break from driving. They are essential to the livelihood of the men and women in the Fleet industry as they can sometimes be the only option open at certain hours of the day and in some locations. As TA puts it, “Truck drivers have one of the most important jobs right now and TravelCenters of America thanks them for their unwavering commitment and dedication. We are taking appropriate and precautionary measures to make sure truck drivers are taken care of while continuing to work hard to keep America moving during this pandemic.”
In order to be safe and remain an open option for truckers, TA has implemented new measures in the field: “Our employees are working tirelessly to ensure that our sites can remain open and ready to serve drivers when they need it. All fuel lanes are open, all TA Truck Service centers are open and RoadSquad 24-Hour Roadside Assistance is available. We are increasing our cleaning frequency and continue to use best-in-class, food-safe cleaners to disinfect common touchpoints within the restaurants and travel centers. These include showers, restrooms, registers, doorknobs, tables, menus, chairs, booths, counters, and all dishes, utensils and cooking surfaces. We are following individual state mandates regarding closures of full-service restaurant dining and are continuing carry-out services in these areas where we are able.”
TA also provides a mobile app, TruckSmart, for truckers which allows them to reserve and pay for showers and parking right from the app. The app also gives real-time location updates, including weather and construction updates. During this pandemic, it can provide drivers with a feeling of comfort and security to know that places like TA are open and welcoming them in as they continue to work hard out there providing essential services for those of us sheltering in place.
Says WEXer Lynn Alexander, Vice President of Client Service Operations, “The major truck stop chains have been great partners for WEX and we’re grateful to them for providing critical fuel and a safe environment for over the road truckers. With what they are providing, truckers can continue making sure critical supplies, including medical supplies and equipment, are getting where they need to be.”
A WEX customer, Tenet Health, is a healthcare services company based in Dallas, Texas providing essential services during this pandemic. They called WEX on Sunday, March 22, looking for help. Due to COVID-19 and the increase in the need for medical equipment and supplies, Tenet was running into supply shortages with their existing vendors. They needed a new way to purchase medical gear and a different way to access the supply chain.
With 113,000 employees, Tenet serves 65 hospitals, 24 surgical hospitals, and 480 outpatient centers. When you think about it, that’s a lot of supplies to keep stocked. They turned to WEX to help resolve their supply chain dilemma so they could continue to care for their patients during this difficult time.
Tenet is a client Jessica Cook implemented in the summer of 2019. So, when she was tapped to work on this project she was already familiar with their business practices and was able to quickly start work on a solution. It was essential for Tenet to find creative ways to pay suppliers for the goods they needed. Jessica used WEX’s TransAct Global (TAG), a proprietary processor of WEX, which allowed her to provide immediate results for Tenet. She turned the implementation around quickly that Sunday night which allowed Tenet to be up and running just a few short hours after they brought the issue to us.
Tenet’s program is working well and with hospital supplies still in high demand, this will continue to be a great tool for them. As Cook describes it, “With WEX’s flexible technology, we are able to create a virtual card instantaneously. And during this shortage of hospital supplies, Tenet can use that virtual card to turn to less commonly used e-commerce web sites like Ebay, Amazon, and others and purchase from places they do not normally bulk order supplies.”
We are grateful for organizations like Tenet who are working tirelessly out in the field to ensure the safety of their patients and care providers.