Faith Over Fear: Practicing What We Preach
It’s easy to say you have faith in God. It’s a whole lot harder to do it.
Over a year ago, we witnessed true panic as the first wave of the pandemic was shutting down businesses, restaurants, hotels and sports events. Fear was off the charts. Everyone, including our own company, was scared.
Our management team tried to demonstrate calm and leadership. We enacted our company’s crisis plan, established a COVID task force and met every week to discuss safety protocols at our office and for our drivers. All sales trips were shut down, and our doors closed to outside visitors. Our newly expanded headquarters, normally busy with sounds of work and laughter, suddenly was an empty, silent cavern as most dispatchers and other staff worked from home.
I began fielding some very uncomfortable questions from customers and our own team members. How are we going to handle this? What’s going to happen to our company?
We were navigating uncharted waters. But like we always do, we were as truthful and completely transparent as possible. My answer: Faith Over Fear.
It became our rallying cry, and the more we repeated it, the more we believed.
Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, we know God has blessed our company and customers.
- Our business in 2020 grew by over 70 percent.
- Falling back on our technology and experience in meeting difficult deadlines for the food industry, we found ways to handle an increased pace in loads that normally only happens during the peak holiday season.
- Across the country, Syfan Logistics was one of the few trucking and logistics firms to grow and actually take on more business during the pandemic.
- We have learned to be much more flexible in our operations with Zoom videoconferencing and working remotely.
- Despite being apart during the peak of the pandemic, our team and customers have grown closer.
Best of all, we learned that Faith Over Fear is the best crisis plan – and no matter what curveball is thrown in our future, faith will see us through.
Celebrating A Decade Back in Business with our ‘10-Year Rebirth’
This year marks our 10-year anniversary! Well, not really – it’s actually our 10-year Rebirth.
Confused? Here’s an explanation: Prior to starting Syfan Logistics in 2011, we had an even longer run with our former business, Turbo Logistics, which we started in May 1984 and sold back in 2006. We missed our team and customers so much that we eventually returned to “rebirth” a new company, Syfan Logistics – and never looked back.
We struggled with coming up with a theme for our decade anniversary, because we’ve been in the trucking and logistics business for nearly four times as long. That’s why we settled on “Our 10-Year Rebirth” – which seems appropriate in so many ways, particularly in the spirit of Easter that we celebrated this spring.
“Back in 1994, our first 10-year company anniversary was very special,” Syfan Logistics President Greg Syfan said. “Now it’s the second time around, and this 10-year milestone just feels twice as special.”
With both Turbo Logistics and Syfan Logistics, we’ve been blessed with a great partnership of trust and transparency between our professional team and customers. “The only difference is that Syfan Logistics has grown a whole lot faster in a shorter amount of time,” Syfan said.
You’ll be seeing and hearing more about our “Rebirth” theme throughout the year, and it will also serve as inspiration to rededicate our pledge to follow Christian business principles in the way we operate and treat our fellow man and woman.
“Whenever asked about our success,” Syfan adds, “I always credit our team and loyal customers. But our No. 1 reason comes from blessings from above.”
A PROFILE OF COURAGE AND CARING
How We Met Pandemic Challenge to Help Supply America
Back in March 2020, as speculation of a worldwide pandemic suddenly turned real, Syfan Logistics was about to learn what it meant to be an “essential provider.”
The federal designation allowed our company to continue operation. But it came with a responsibility far eclipsing the demands of everyday deadline shipments by our professional team of logistics planners, dispatchers, fleet drivers and carrier partners.
Working with one of our key shipping partners, we were tasked with assembling a network of over 100 drivers, trucks and equipment to be on stand-by and available around the clock. For long hauls, a team of two drivers was required.
The Syfan Critical Express team knew the cargo would be precious and in heavy demand. Shipments would range from ventilators, personal protective equipment, body bags, and medicines to more mundane consumer goods like paper towels and toilet paper in short supply.
Like volunteering for a risky military mission, our drivers also knew they would likely be exposed to the rapidly spreading virus while traveling to the country’s hottest hot spots, places like Los Angeles and New York City.
On each side of the shipment, from driver to the end-user, lives and livelihoods were all on the line.
“We knew the impact of our mission,” said Steve Syfan, executive vice president. “And we knew the risks. It required bravery and patriotism. Healthcare workers and their patients, first responders, citizens sheltered at home – a whole nation was counting on us. And we were proud to be part of the solution.”
Challenges and Bumps Along the Road
Driver recruitment was the first order of business. Pulling together large numbers of drivers and equipment, and then idling them — sometimes for days — until emergency loads became available, was an enormous undertaking. As an asset-based provider, we were able to recruit many from within our own fleet in addition to enlisting the most reliable and trusted drivers from our longstanding carrier partnerships.
“It was not only a challenge to amass such a large team on stand-by, but also to hold it together while some drivers were already getting sick from COVID-19 exposure,” Syfan said. “We were very concerned about our driver safety and initiated numerous changes to our protocols to keep them safe and in their trucks as much as possible.”
Our company’s diversified customer base was key in our ability to deliver. As the pandemic settled in over the spring, many of our customers in manufacturing and other industries were starting to feel the pinch of shuttered consumer demand. The silver lining was that the slowdown in some sectors of our customer base allowed more resources to be shifted to support our Critical Express team.
The logistics planning had a lot of moving parts as stand-by drivers were dispatched to locations around the country. As many as 15 to 20 driver teams had to be on stand-by at one time, waiting on site at a pick-up location. And as soon as one truck shipped out, we had to replace it with another hauler team, ready to reload and ship out.
As a financially strong company, we were blessed with the ability to pay our driver teams – on and off the clock – while waiting for loads.
It was a calculated risk, but we knew our financial support up front was absolutely necessary,” Syfan said.
In one sense, the pandemic created conditions like the traditional holiday peak season on steroids. From mid-March through the summer, our load demand mushroomed to record heights. For perspective, consider this: On average, we hauled 15 to 20 shipments a week for one of our key shipping partners prior to the pandemic crisis; afterward, that number soared to as high as 80 loads on a single day!
“In the end, we were successful for many reasons – our competent team of professionals, our longtime experience in over-the-road transport, our carrier partners and other relationships,” Syfan said. “But the biggest factor simply came down to our trust and transparency.
“We tell it like it is, bad or good. And when we make a promise, we deliver.”
Happy Ferguson is a longtime member of the Syfan Logistics team who just celebrated her 25th year working for the Syfan family, dating back to their first company Turbo Logistics.
Happy is our Director of Safety — which means she maintains Department of Transportation records and compliance and oversees our driver safety training.
She and her husband, Phil, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in July. They have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren. She loves spending time with her family, playing with her grandchildren, trout fishing – especially in Cherokee, N.C. – and camping.
We are proud of Happy’s inspirational fight against breast cancer. She recently completed five months of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. “I’m thankful every time I get a clear report,” Happy says.
She has been able to share her journey with five breast-cancer patients and friends, with whom she talks regularly. Their support has been very helpful as she went through treatment and now recovery.
“We are all in different stages and different treatment programs,” Happy says. “Even though they may not be going through what I am at the time, we each understand the importance of having someone to talk with that knows the meaning of having breast cancer and can relate.”
What advice does Happy have for anyone battling cancer?
“Keep a good attitude about the situation,” she says. “God only puts on us what He knows we can handle – not what we think we can handle. As someone close told me at my diagnosis, put your faith in God to put the right doctors on your case and then trust your doctors.”
Syfan Provides Neighborly Help During Texas Relief Effort
Syfan Logistics and our friends in the trucking industry know it’s important to be good neighbors — no matter the distance in between – when crisis strikes like the massive snowstorm in Texas this past winter that left millions without power.
“Whether it’s next door or a thousand miles away, we believe in being a good neighbor,” said Syfan Logistics Executive Vice President Steve Syfan. “When someone needs help, our company and the trucking industry always respond.”
Syfan Logistics joined the effort led by the Georgia Motor Trucking Association’s Convoy of Care to aid the citizens of Texas who were still recovering from the severe winter storm. In addition to power outages, freezing temperatures burst pipes and damaged the water source for millions.
Syfan was ready and willing, providing our own trucks and drivers for the delivery of bottled water to relief sites in Texas. Whatever and wherever there is a future need, we pledge to always be there for our “neighbors” across America.
Jim Syfan Serving On Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority
We applaud Jim Syfan, our CEO, for his service with the Development Authority for Lake Lanier Islands, a major lakefront tourism site near Buford, Ga.
Lake Lanier Islands is one of Georgia’s top entertainment sites for business meetings and family fun.
Through the years, Jim has given his time to serve on numerous community and transportation industry boards. He was appointed to the LLI Development Authority in 2020 by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
“Lake Lanier Islands is such an important economic driver for our region and the entire state,” Jim said. “I look forward to offering guidance and helping it to continue to grow and prosper.”
The Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority provides administrative oversight responsibility and support with Lake Lanier Islands Management Company, a private company that manages the year-round destination.
Training Our Drivers to Spot and Stop Human Trafficking
For more than a year, our company has been involved with Truckers Against Trafficking, a national effort to stop human trafficking.
Part of our work with Truckers Against Trafficking involves training drivers to recognize potential incidents of human trafficking. Truck stops and rest areas are often frequented by traffickers looking to sell their victims.
The Truckers Against Trafficking organization encourages drivers to be everyday heroes in the course of their jobs by reporting potential criminal activity.
We urge all our friends in the trucking industry to get involved. Working together, we can make a significant impact. For more information, visit www.TruckersAgainstTrafficking.org.
Let’s Keep It Rolling:
Syfan Continues Streak As Top U.S. Trucking Company
We are proud of our trucking division for earning national recognition — for the third straight year – as one of the best at what they do.
Inbound Logistics magazine recently recognized Syfan Logistics on its list of the Top 100 trucking companies in the United States.
Inbound Logistics is a national trade publication covering the transportation industry. Each year, the magazine’s staff researches, conducts interviews and evaluates information provided by trucking companies from around the country to determine its list of Top 100 Trucking Companies.
The recognition is based on criteria such as operational excellence, innovation, network of customer relationships, and quality of services.
It’s a great honor for our company and a tribute to our professional team.
Driver Spotlight: Dewey Franklin
Dewey Franklin loves to drive and has found a home doing what he loves at Syfan Logistics.
Dewey has been a driver with Syfan for almost a year and has been an over-the-road driver for the last three years.
“I get to see all different places, and I really enjoy that,” he said. “I also really like the people here at Syfan.”
A Wisconsin native, Dewey now lives in Hall County and has three children. In his spare time, Dewey likes to work on home projects and spend time with his family.
Pray for Brecklynn – It’s Still Working!
A lot of people ask for updates on the condition of Brecklynn Allgood, our warrior child whose cute face became a social media sensation across the world during her difficult battle with cancer several years ago. (She is the daughter of Zach Allgood, who works at Syfan Logistics, and Courtney Allgood, and the granddaughter of Greg Syfan, our president). We’re happy to report that Brecklynn is doing quite well these days. Her most recent scan on April 1st was clear. In the past weeks, she joined Zach at a Father Daughter dance and enjoyed her neighborhood’s annual Easter egg hunt. She is a second-grader that loves school. And like a lot of her family members, she loves playing golf, too. Thanks to all for your continued prayers for Brecklynn.
Syfan Logistics Partners with Local Elementary School
Helping young people and local schools has always been a focus of our company and a way to give back to our community.
For the last two years, we have enjoyed contributing to the next generation as a Partner in Education with Mount Vernon Exploratory Academy in north Hall County.
“We are so very thankful for Syfan Logistics and all of their support,” says Mount Vernon Principal Jennifer Westbrook.
Last fall, our company installed picnic tables at the school – which allowed the students to have lunch outside and spread out more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coordinated through the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the Partner in Education program allows companies to provide in-kind and monetary support to schools, teachers and students.