TMC flatbed truck on the highway

TMC and Insteel Industries: Building A Partnership of Excellence

on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Company News

Insteel Industries, Inc. is the nation's largest manufacturer of steel wire reinforcing products for concrete construction applications. Their prestressed concrete strand and welded wire reinforcement are used in construction across the United States, helping to make both residential and nonresidential construction projects a reality around the country.

Robert Welch, Director of Materials at Insteel, who manages both inbound and outbound logistics for the company, saw an opportunity early in his tenure to make Insteel’s transportation more efficient through working with the right carriers. “We looked at everything like a commodity,” Robert says, “and we said, ‘Why don’t we look at freight like a commodity and see if we can’t do something to improve our visibility and improve our cost?’”

This drive to optimize freight relationships led Insteel to select TMC as a flatbed carrier 20 years ago. Insteel was looking for a flatbed carrier that could match their commitments to safety and excellent service—while keeping efficiency and price in mind. Since then, TMC—the largest employee-owned flatbed carrier in the US—has become a valued transportation partner for Insteel as both companies have grown, yet the values at the core of the relationship have stayed constant.

Shared Values Lead to a Successful Partnership

Like TMC, Insteel started out small and has grown into a major player in its industry. But both companies have kept their focus on doing the small things right—always. “Our president, H.O. Woltz, is quick to tell us that we’ve been successful when others haven’t because we’re not above picking up the chains that falls off the table,” Robert says of Insteel’s approach to keeping costs low and building the company through diligence, attention to detail, and hard work.

Robert says that TMC brings this same spirit of consistency and commitment to quality to flatbed hauling. “TMC gives us superior service, safe service, and most importantly, you’re competitively priced in the market,” Robert notes. He knows he can trust TMC to handle loads professionally and safely, freeing up his time to tackle other problems. “When we put you guys on it, I can go to another problem I have because I know those loads will be taken care of,” Robert says.

Robert says that Jeff Floyd, TMC’s Vice President of National Accounts, has been a major reason that the two companies have been able to work together so successfully over the last 20 years. “He’s a true partner,” Robert says of Jeff, who started his career as a TMC flatbed driver and later spent time in operations before joining the business development team.

Jeff’s deep, comprehensive understanding of flatbed transportation has made him especially valuable to work with, Robert believes. “Jeff understood the pitfalls and what you can and cannot do, so he would not overcommit or over-promise. When I first got into this, I was promised everything by everybody,” he laughs. “And then you quickly learn who can deliver and who can’t. TMC has always been able to do exactly what they’ve said they will.”

Jeff agrees that the collaborative nature of the relationship has been at the core of its success over 20 years. “Just like family, we have tough discussions, but we find common ground about all things,” he says. “Even if we come up against a hurdle, we’ve always been able to navigate through it.”

Perfecting Cast-in-Place Delivery

In one particular case, Insteel turned to TMC to deliver its cast-in-place panels to a customer’s construction site. Because concrete is poured around these panels as they are delivered to a construction site, the materials need to arrive on a precise, dependable schedule to meet the customer’s needs. Insteel turned to TMC for the reliable capacity they needed to make this project a success. Robert and Jeff were able to work together to deliver the panels on a schedule that fit the customer’s needs and allowed construction to progress smoothly.

“Jeff did a really good job with his crew to get in front of this and protect the capacity we needed. He has really led us down that road. Jeff and TMC have made me look like a hero,” Robert jokes.

Safety Is Always Top of Mind

One of the key principles of Insteel’s success is the company’s commitment to safety in every aspect of its operations, and they expect the same from the companies they work with. TMC’s emphasis on safety and its 99.7% claim-free delivery rate make it an ideal partner for Insteel.

Robert says that he always knew TMC had a great reputation for safety, but he gained a new respect for the carrier’s commitment to operating safely when he visited TMC’s driver training facility in Iowa and saw how drivers are trained to keep both themselves and the freight they’re hauling safe on the road.

Robert himself took a turn in one of the driving simulators that prepare trainees for real-life road conditions—and he saw how challenging it is to be successful as a TMC flatbed driver: “It takes a superior person, who has got to be trained to know how to handle that 80,000 pounds as it’s going across the United States,” Robert says, referring to the weight of a loaded flatbed trailer.

He was also impressed by the way driver trainees learn to secure loads. At TMC’s training facility, Robert says, “we went into a warehouse with different products, and they would show drivers how to secure them. TMC develops a protocol for how to secure these loads.” And TMC is always working to improve on its exemplary safety and securement record, even developing innovative methods of securing Insteel’s products on trailers to keep them safe on difficult roads.

True Partnership, True Success

Throughout its partnership with Insteel, TMC has proven itself to be a leader in the flatbed industry, says Robert. “I hold you guys in high esteem because of what you’ve demonstrated over the last 20 years,” he states. “You’re the industry standard for flatbed trucking.”

With TMC as a flatbed carrier, Insteel has been able to grow its customer base and seamlessly provide its industry-leading steel wire reinforcing products for construction projects around the country. Robert agrees, saying, “We could not do this as successfully as we have without TMC.”