Creating a culture is important in any business. For Nebraska Transport Company, it’s a way of life. Now that family culture is leading to company success.
When Dick Holliday purchased Nebraska Transport Company in 1973, his first haul was from Scottsbluff to Omaha carrying one refrigerator. NTC’s equipment — all used — included two bright yellow Hertz peddle trucks. Holliday covered up the name with black paint, and the company’s colors were born.
“Dad would deliver freight in the morning and make sales calls in the afternoon,” says his son Brent Holliday, who became the company’s CEO in 1998 when his father retired. “People knew us back then as those guys with the yellow and black trucks.”
Dick Holliday had already spent more than 25 years in the trucking business when he bought NTC. After graduating high school, he left his childhood home in the tiny farming community of Paige, Nebraska, and headed west. The 18-year-old landed in Scottsbluff when he ran out of gas and money. To pay for food, he shoveled sheep manure from train cars until he found a job as a freight hand at a local trucking company. Later he joined West Nebraska Express where he had several jobs, including hauling bombs into the Sioux Army Depot in Sidney, Nebraska.
Today, NTC is among the 10 largest companies in the Scottsbluff-Gering region of Nebraska’s panhandle — known for its expansive skyline and the nearby Scotts Bluff National Monument along the Oregon Trail. With 230 employees, 135 trucks and nine locations in five states, the company handles both regional and long haul. The freight ranges from air conditioners to bulk sugar to lumber on a flatbed.
A VNL 730 with NTC’s classic logo and colors sweeps through Scottsbluff National Park in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. NTC has been pleased with the 24 percent fuel efficiency improvement since switching to Volvo.
While 85 percent of NTC’s revenue still comes from its traditional LTL business, it also has truckload, pneumatic and brokerage operations. Offering this broad range of services makes NTC unusual for a company of its size, but Brent Holliday has full confidence in his young management team. “Every day I see them asking good questions and growing more confident in their decision-making,” he says. “You may never see one of our ads during the Super Bowl, but put a shipment on one of our trucks and we’ll get it where it needs to go on time.”
After Dick Holliday retired, he was pleased to see NTC continue as a family-run business. Brent Holliday’s wife Susan, son Phillip, daughter-in-law Sara and nephew Ryan also work for the company. And long-time employees like Tony Lacy, NTC’s chief operating officer, are considered part of the family.
As a young boy, Phillip Holliday would sometimes sit in his grandfather’s office after school and watch him work. Now, as executive vice president of sales, he considers it a privilege to be side-by-side with his father every day, helping NTC serve its customers. “We come from different perspectives, but every day I get a chance to come in and learn from a man who’s been teaching me things all my life.”
85 percent of NTC’s revenue still comes from its traditional LTL business.
In 2013 the NTC team was interested in purchasing trucks with a reliable automatic transmission, and a colleague introduced them to Tom Primozich, regional sales manager for the Volvo Trucks dealership in Denver, Colorado. Since then, NTC has added 18 VNL 300 and VNL 730 models to its fleet — all with Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmissions — and achieved around a 24 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
“Volvo has a great product, but what really sold us is Tom,” he says. “He knows the product inside out, and he does customer service like it used to be. We’ve made the switch to Volvo, and we’ll be purchasing more as we replace our older trucks.”
“I love my job. I love my life. I love my employees. I’m proud to be part of the NTC team.”
Brent Holliday, CEO, Nebraska Transport Company
NTC’s drivers are also proud of their Volvo trucks. “They like the fact that we’re willing to invest in the latest technology not only for the Volvo I-Shift, but also for safety features like Volvo Enhanced Cruise,” Phillip Holliday says. “The trucks are also quiet and comfortable — a nice home away from home.”
Much has changed at NTC since Dick Holliday first made morning deliveries in and around Scottsbluff. But the foundation he built — based on trusting employees and doing right by customers — remains intact.
NTC corporate office in Scottsbluff features an inspiration wall, which is full of quotes and photos that employees have posted.
Two years ago Brent Holliday stepped out of his office with a Sharpie pen in his hand and wrote these words on the newly painted wall outside his office: “I love my job. I love my life. I love my employees. I’m proud to be part of the NTC team.” People stopped what they were doing to watch, and two days later another employee had written a message on the wall. Now it’s full of messages and photos.
The NTC leader had been inspired by a YouTube video about the Zappos company culture — especially the belief that if you value employees and invest in their future, exceptional customer service will follow. The NTC Attitude Team was formed to inspire and motivate employees at all company locations.
“We wanted our employees to open up and tell us the kind of company they wanted NTC to be,” says Brent Holliday. “Now we’ve built something new on the back of what my dad started here.”