Stallion Transportation's Butch Rice on the Biggest Challenge Facing the Trucking Industry

In 1992, Garland E. “Butch” Rice opened Stallion Transportation Group with two employees in a 450-SF office in North Little Rock. Today, the company occupies an 18,100-SF office, a 12,000-SF maintenance facility and an 11-acre drop yard at its headquarters in Beebe. Stallion Transportation has 128 employees, 74 tractors, 180 dry van trailers and gross sales of $40 million. Rice also owns Classic Promotions LLC, a corporate apparel company, and Rice Racing Stable LLC, which races, breeds and sells thoroughbred horses.

Born in 1962, Rice grew up in Rose City and attended North Little Rock Northeast High School. He continued his education at Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas State University at Beebe. Rice serves on the boards of the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and is a member of the ASU-Beebe Chancellor’s Circle.

Tell us about Stallion these days: What services does it offer, how many employees do you have, what kind of growth do you anticipate and in what areas?

Stallion Transportation Group is much more than the generally accepted version of a trucking company. We are a close-knit group of talented people working together to give first-class service to our customers while maintaining outstanding safety programs for our drivers. Stallion is a full-service transportation provider. We offer long-haul service, regional service, dedicated trucking service and warehousing service. We expect to add employees to accommodate our growth in our regional services department, which includes our same-day pickup and delivery service. This is the area where I see Stallion concentrating our efforts to make sure our drivers have more home time due to the new hours of service rules.

Trucking is much in the news lately, with corporate consolidations and big moves by companies like ArcBest. Is something fundamental changing in your industry?

One of the fundamental changes that our industry faces is one geared to the drivers’ time. We are on a clock working backwards with the constraints we have in place. The shippers and carriers should get on the same page to accommodate the time constraints and related costs that affect the very drivers and product we are moving.

What’s the biggest challenge you have at Stallion and how are you approaching it?

The biggest challenge we have currently would be our driver shortage. This shortage not only affects Stallion but the entire industry. We are continuing to raise the bar for our drivers. I have always felt that without our drivers, Stallion and our industry would cease to exist, and I still believe that today. The drivers at Stallion are highly respected, they are not just a truck number, and they are family. That is my approach to our drivers and it will continue as my approach; they are the backbone of Stallion.

You were one of our 40 Under 40 honorees back in 2002, and that was 10 years after you founded Stallion. What would you say is the smartest business decision you ever made?

With the future and the owner-operators’ accountability being uncertain, one of the best business decisions that I have made in my career was when I decided to open Stallion Express Inc., an asset-based company. Having our own equipment ensured we have the best equipment available for our customers’ freight.

Sometimes our worst decisions can be more educational than our best. What was the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

I am not sure that I would consider this a mistake, but it is the biggest learning experience that I am still learning today. As the people closest to me have said, I am too trusting and giving. As a company owner, I have had to learn to say the word “No.” That is a very hard lesson for me, because I want everyone to feel like I am there for him or her whether it is personally or professionally.