Imagine trying to juggle the schedules of 8,000 independent truckers. That's the task of Landstar Systems (LSTR
) Inc., a $1.4 billion Jacksonville (Fla.)-based transportation company that coordinates deliveries on everything from munitions to paper towels. Landstar's challenge is to best match orders with drivers around the country. If truckers don't learn about jobs at the right time and place, they're likely to haul for someone else.
In the past six years, Landstar has been reaching those truckers through the Web. Using a digital dispatch service, Landstar's 1,000 agents punch in a freight order on their Web site. Truckers, who carry laptops, BlackBerry (RIMM
) handhelds, and data-ready cell phones, log in to see what's available, sign up for jobs, and leave details about their whereabouts. The system has made Landstar's truckers more loyal than most: Nearly half of the drivers stay with the company each year, up from 36% two years ago. That's twice the retention rates of rivals. Thanks to the Web, this fiercely independent breed keeps on truckin' for Landstar. By Heather Green