TMSA Trailblazer Award: Sonwil Transportation & Farmer's Marketing, Inc.

2022 Trailblazer Award Winner


Sonwil Transportation is a long-standing and successful transportation, warehousing, and logistics business based in West Seneca, New York. Jason Ickert was brought to Sonwil as President in April of 2021, to continue to drive Sonwil on an aggressive growth path. One major constraint Jason noticed immediately was Sonwil’s inability to attract and retain qualified truck drivers, just like many trucking companies in North America. Jason reached out to the Farmers team and we engaged in August 2021. To date, 26 drivers, equivalent to 40% of their fleet, have been hired in 8 months with an advertising cost per hire of only $1,500!


Results: Initially, Jason Ickert commented that “If we can hire three drivers from this program, it will be a success”. By December of 2021, 19 drivers were hired, and by March 31st, 2022, 26 drivers had been hired and onboarded!

- Unseated tractors were reduced to zero. This contributed $70,000 and $90,000 in revenue per week, between not paying for idle assets and also being able to generate revenue with those assets.

- In addition to numerous reports and dashboards, we also built a revenue scorecard tracking weekly results. Sonwil can easily see at a glance their weekly results, including what percentage of MQLs, became SQLs, then became hires, and how much their advertising cost is per MQL, SQL, and hire.

- While many trucking companies spend money in various advertising channels, hoping something will work, Sonwil knows what is working. We work to invest as little as possible per channel to generate the results we need on a weekly basis. Due to focus on our weekly needs and metrics, Sonwil’s advertising cost has dropped to the $1,500/range per hire.

- Below you can see that there has been $3.2 million in first year value (FYV) created so far, but, what’s even more exciting is drivers stay at Sonwil for many years, so the lifetime value of a driver hire is approximately 4-5 times this FYV.

- There is now a driver recruitment marketing machine in place and we can dial up or dial down driver recruiting activities and results, even at the specific job level and geo-locations, based on Sonwil’s weekly needs.

This is just a short summary of the many strategies and tactics that the Sonwil and Farmers teams implemented, but due to Sonwil’s action, they solved a major problem. With confidence in their ability to attract qualified drivers, Jason and the Sonwil Transportation team can now focus on their next constraint - finding more tractors so they can hire even more drivers!


Many companies struggle to hire qualified drivers and complain about a driver shortage. Our teams took a less common approach and treated this opportunity as a sales initiative, rather than as just a function of HR. So, rather than looking at this through an HR lens, we built a system and acted like modern sales and marketing professionals by building a lead-generating system and closely managing our sales pipeline. Below are some specific examples of how we built a system to generate leads on an ongoing basis. As the Sonwil and Farmers team dove into solving the driver recruitment problem, we found that there:

- Was a very complicated and lengthy application process

- Were very few drivers visiting their website and calling

- Wasn’t a compelling value offer about why a driver should consider Sonwil Transportation.

- Most ads were ‘me too’, meaning the messaging was similar to most other trucking companies saying ‘Now Hiring’, ‘Great Pay’, ‘Steady Miles’, etc.

- Was no clear strategy on how to consistently hire drivers

- Was high turnover which also contributed to unseated tractors

Sonwil’s truck driver marketing environment and identified the high priority items, Farmers quickly went to work and:

- Implemented HubSpot marketing automation and built out a recruitment sales pipeline

- Surveyed drivers and repositioned how we presented the driver role and Sonwil's value proposition “You’re Essential, Be Treated Like It”

- Sonwil also made significant improvements to the position by adding guaranteed pay, and more home time

- Created new digital assets and recruitment pages on their existing website

- Launched online ads

- Managed the driver leads pipeline

- Most importantly, the Farmers team delivered on their promises

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