Cooper Freight is dedicated to serving its customers through innovations and by always keeping promises.
By Stephanie Crets
For 41 years, Cooper Freight has operated with the motto “dedicated to service.” The company is committed to helping its customers, remaining straightforward and honest in all of its business dealings. With its 100-truck fleet, Cooper Freight transports anything from HVAC equipment to tires to raw materials for production across the United States.
Cooper Freight originally began in air freight as Cooper and Sons. Over the years, the company evolved from a less-than-truckload (LTL) operation to truckload. Now it operates with terminals in Memphis, Tenn., and Grenada, Miss.
“Our mentality comes from the air freight days where everything is hot, so our approach to truckload has been the same,” General Manager Mark Cooper says. “That dedication to our customers and service aspect and having a good name is important. We want our name and reputation to go with what we say, how we act and what we do. That idea went to LTL, then intermodal and finally, truckload. Truckload seems to fit us the best. You don’t have to have as many employees, terminals or a lot of extra parts to it. So, truckload is where we landed in the late 1980s and stayed there ever since.”
Cooper Freight also works to stay ahead of the curve with new innovations and cost savings that will benefit customers. “Technology is changing and I’m able to set the tone if we don’t like something,” Cooper notes. “I like to know we’re the best we can be no matter what.”
Cooper recalls driving trucks and only getting five miles to the gallon, but with new technology, everything has been upgraded to both assist drivers and be more energy efficient. “Our trucks are cycled out every four years and trailers are rotated out every 10 years now,” Cooper explains. “We’ve always been very maintenance conscientious. But you can’t work on a truck today like it was in the ’70s. I have techs that understand wiring diagrams and the software that’s been implemented. It’s a huge difference.”
Cooper Freight prefers to think of its customers and vendors as partnerships and develop long-term relationships with each of them. “We’re all blessed and have a good working relationship with everyone,” Cooper says. “If I commit to you as a vendor, you get all of my business. I do things completely different. If I tell you something, it’s going to happen. Plus, I’m old school, I prefer handshakes.”
One of its key partners is FlowBelow, a company that provides tractor-mounted aerodynamics systems with proven fuel savings. “After I tried five units, I started looking at numbers real close and noticed it’s a quarter-mile to the gallon,” Cooper says. “Now, all of my new trucks are equipped with FlowBelow’s systems, and I’m even retrofitting some of the older trucks. Now, my trucks don’t even look right without them. It shows the community and our customers that we’re on the cutting-edge of technology that really works. I can vouch for FlowBelow.”
Cooper Freight credits its long-term partnerships to the fact that it’s a very family-oriented company. Most of the employees have been part of the company for more than 10 years but the younger generation is gradually making headway in it as well. Plus, Cooper and his three siblings have worked together for the 41 years the company has been in business and looks forward to many more.
“When you come through the door, it’s a place of employment and friendship but also the income we make represents all the families we are responsible for,” Cooper says. “I’m looking forward now to the growth of our next generation of team members, which would include family. We announced that it won’t be us four running the show; we’re going to pour ourselves into other employees here so they’re getting ready. Our focus is showing others how the work is to be done so we don’t lose our reputation or service level that we’ve maintained for 41 years. That’s been exciting.
“You see younger people learning and they do an excellent job,” he adds. “And I’m just very thankful for this company because it’s provided a wonderful opportunity for me to grow, learn and every day is a new challenge for me, and I can pass that on now.”