Company: Admiral Merchants Motor Freight Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Operation: Specialized heavy hauler; Frank Rhoades, executive vp and COO

Problem: Seventy-plus-year-old Admiral Merchants Motor Freight is a 450-truck fleet. Today, owner-operators run all 450 of those trucks. According to Frank Rhoades, that means prompt driver payment is a must. "Owner-operators require much quicker payment than company drivers," he says, "and Admiral Merchants has a reputation with drivers for total integrity, for paying promptly and accurately. That reputation means a lot to us. It helps us attract and keep good drivers. In fact, we just honored a driver that has been with us for 28 years.

"The payment system we were using was developed in-house over a period of many years. It was developed first of all to assure prompt driver payment and secondly to handle dispatch," Rhoades recalls. "The TMW system is allowing us to increase our focus on dispatch. If you don't move the load, you don't have to worry about driver payment.

"We needed to improve our dispatching, but we still had to keep our customers - our drivers and our agents - happy. We also wanted a system that would give us the flexibility we needed to apply other technologies as we move forward; the ability to interface with other systems was critical," he adds.

Solution: After a careful search, the company chose TMW's TL2000 dispatch operations system for the IBM AS/400 to manage its operation. "I attended the TMW User Group looking for dissatisfied clients before we made our final decision," says Rhoades. "The fact that we found no one said volumes."

The new TMW system was installed on April 1, and Admiral Merchant's six dispatchers and their manager are continuing to improve their use of the system, he notes. Live interfaces with mobile communications, imaging systems and automated driver payment services are also in the works.

According to Rhoades, that's just the beginning. "We want our communications to be topnotch," he says. "More and more shippers are going to want some sort of interface with our agents and with our dispatch system, and we have to be ready for that. We already have three of our agents tied into TMW via the Internet, and we are scheduling others. The TMW System is ideally structured to allow for that tie-in. It gives us a base that works for us now and one that we can grow with.

"Last year, Brian Short, our CEO, gave us one goal. He said, 'Every month, I want you to tell me what we've done to make it easier to do business with us,'" Rhoades explains. "So, every month since then we've had to report on our results. The TMW system is helping us meet this goal."