An ACT News Executive Interview with Vic LaRosa, President and CEO of Total Transportation Services, Inc. (TTSI), Los Angeles, California
When he is not running the day to day operations of one of the largest drayage industry trucking firms on the West Coast, Vic LaRosa finds time to enjoy a favorite hobby, fly fishing. His passion for the environment stems from peaceful days spent in pristine locations, casting his fly rod. He follows catch-and-release ethics, and is dedicated to preserving all fishing waters.
As the President and CEO of TTSI, Vic brings that sense of environmental responsibility to the workplace, with a company commitment to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. TTSI takes being a good corporate citizen to heart, reducing truck emissions in the communities they work in, as well as creating a healthy workplace for staff.
Vic founded TTSI in 1986, to provide a wide range of national and international freighting services, based on customer relationships and wanting to make a difference in the drayage and trucking industry. He enjoys the success of TTSI, measured by how much he continues to enjoy what he is doing.
TTSI has a reputation of being one of the more forward-looking and adaptable trucking companies in Southern California. ACT News caught up with Vic LaRosa to learn more about how TTSI continues to innovate by remaining on the cutting edge of transportation technologies.
ACT News: How do you foster innovation at TTSI?
Vic LaRosa: When we committed to the zero-emission transportation pathway, all the technology companies who are manufacturing in the alternative fuels sector sought us out. At TTSI, we’ve all learned about alternative fuel technologies, sustainability, and why reducing emissions from diesel matters. We are committed to the environment. We have a Director of Compliance and Sustainability, which has been very fruitful for TTSI, as they’ve been able to focus on what new technologies are emerging that we should incorporate.
We talk to everybody in the company. Customers, drivers, and everybody in between. TTSI has developed internal programs based on communicating with all our people.
We’ve made a very large commitment to the new natural gas engines from Cummins Westport, and renewable natural gas (RNG). All the trucks we’re spec’ing have the Cummins 11.9 liter near-zero engine. Natural gas is a quiet, comfortable ride for the drivers. And it’s so much better for the environment.
That said, we’re agnostic to technology. We’ll try any of the new emission-reducing technologies. We’re testing battery and fuel cell technologies. TTSI is heavily committed as a company to embrace any new technology, anything that will make the trucks run cleaner. We have to run the company with the most cost effective and practical solutions there are.
ACT News: What are three words to describe TTSI?
Vic LaRosa: Sustainability, customer service, California compliant.
ACT News: How would you describe your workplace culture?
Vic LaRosa: We are proud of our family culture, we have a very loyal work family at TTSI. In the port drayage trucking industry there can be a lot of turnover. When people leave I ask them why, so we can learn from their experience at TTSI. I always tell them they are welcome to come back. We’ve seen a large percentage of the people who leave return to TTSI. This includes customer service staff, dispatchers, and drivers.
ACT News: What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
Vic LaRosa: I really enjoy meeting with our customers, both current and new customers. I like learning about their business, sharing ideas and best practices, and determining how best TTSI can help them grow their business.
Customers are the reason we are in business; their satisfaction is our work. Every customer is treated as if he or she were our only customer. From the initial contact to final freight disposition, our desire to please is paramount. We earnestly aspire to this goal every moment of every day.
ACT News: What do you find the most challenging at TTSI?
Vic LaRosa: Driver retention, something the entire trucking industry finds challenging. Our drivers are at the heart of our operations, and we are dedicated to treating them as such. We are 100% California Compliant and our drivers enjoy benefits, hourly and piecemeal wages, digital logs, and an exciting driver training program that takes a driver from zero experience to ready to hit the road with confidence.
ACT News: Before TTSI, what was the most unusual or interesting job you ever had?
Vic LaRosa: Back in the mid-seventies, I worked in Seattle for a company that was instrumental in the construction of the Alaska pipeline. We built all the pumping stations. We managed the procurement of goods, and assembled products that were dispatched from Seattle up to Alaska. We used every type of transportation mode in existence, including over the road trucking, marine – lots of roll on roll off, rail, and air. It was a fascinating project.
ACT News: What advice would you offer to young professionals interested in pursuing a similar career path?
Vic LaRosa: You will always work in this industry. People have to move goods, moving freight is a key part of the supply chain, we see continued growth in the industry. People tend to stay in the industry their entire careers. Becoming a trainee in a management program is a good place to start. Be creative and go after the opportunities that are out there.