ProDriver Leasing Systems strives for all encompassing

Last updated on April 14th, 2022 at 02:30 am

Chris Schmus is the definition of a self-starter. “Nobody taught me how to drive – I taught myself,” Schmus, the owner of ProDriver Leasing Systems, said. “That’s my biggest accomplishment as far as trucking. Most people go to school and pay thousands of dollars to get instructed, whereas I just got into a truck and taught myself, rented a truck and just did it.”
If Nike hadn’t already come up with it, Schmus’s motto might be “just do it.”
After high school, Schmus quickly progressed through various truck-driving licenses, including a heavy vehicle licence Melbourne, then eventually hauling over the road. A stint with now-defunct Quality Delivery Service in which he managed the company’s operations beginning at age 19 convinced him he could make it in a business of his own.
“I managed all of their positions and people for them, so I got my feel for management there,” said Schmus.
In August 1996, at the age of 23, Schmus launched his company. Part of its success, he says, is that it’s “truck drivers running truck drivers, and it’s been extremely beneficial.”
The firm is a hybrid, providing long-term and short-term assignments to qualified drivers for clients all over the US.
“We’re in a niche that nobody does,” Schmus asserts. “There are a lot of companies that supply long-term; there are a lot of companies that supply here or there, like a temp service. But there’s no one company that handles every possible thing that we do. We’re very unique. We can supply people forever to a company; we can supply people on a one-day notice – nobody (else) does that.”
ProDriver provides qualified drivers that smaller companies may not be able to afford. “They don’t have the buying power to handle the Worker’s Comp, the health and dental insurance, the 401(k), etc,” Schmus says.
For larger companies, ProDriver provides temporary workers when the client’s drivers take vacation or have injuries. That way the client is not paying for drivers when there’s not enough work.
The company provides the drivers, not the trucks. That was a concept most companies weren’t used to back when the company started. Clients were leery of letting ProDriver’s employees get into their trucks. “But with the way the market has tightened up and the availability of qualified personnel, they just can’t do it any more,” Schmus says of the once reluctant clients.
Once the concept caught on, finding qualified drivers became the next problem. “Finding a decent driver who can drive the truck initially, pass a drug screen and show up to work is tremendously difficult in today’s marketplace, which is why most companies can’t find anybody,” he says. ProDriver, unlike a job with a company with it’s own fleet, offers drivers the opportunity to switch assignments, helping to alleviate the tedium of driving the same route over and over – an attractive aspect for many drivers.
The company has benefited lately from the plight of owner-operators who can no longer afford to be self-employed, due, in part, to the higher cost of fuel.
“I feel sorry for a lot of these guys,” Schmus says of independent truckers. “They go out and buy these beautiful trucks and think it’s the end-all, and they’re starting their own businesses. But it’s so rough out there for a person like that in today’s marketplace. They just can’t make it.”
The company, located in Greenfield, opened a second office in Appleton last fall. Between the two offices it has 125 employees.
ProDriver Leasing Systems was named one of the Future 50 by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Council of Small Business Executives, an award given to the fastest growing companies in the area. Schmus credits his office staff and the quality of the company’s drivers for the company’s previous success and notes a never-say-die attitude amongst all of his employees.
“Nobody wants to settle for second best around here.”

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