Growing up in Baker, Mike Griffith had a passion for trucking. His trucking adventure began when he started driving for Bee Line Transportation in 1972. Then in 1976 he went to work for Western Trucking in Baker. Mike had a vision of running a fleet comprised of all Independent Owner Operators, rather than the traditional “driver”. So in 1985 he and his wife, Anna, took a leap of faith and partnered with brothers Al and Mark Heller to form Quality Transportation, Inc.
By Angel Wyrwas
Quality Transportation is a leading truckload carrier that specializes in flat bedding with Independent Owner Operators. Transportation services are provided throughout the Continental United States and at times even into Canada. “Quality is a team of owner-operators and employees working together with a firm belief that when working as a team we can achieve more than either can achieve on their own,” said Patrick Griffith, CEO.
Company success was built on a dream and very dedicated hard work – Mike at the helm night and day and Anna close by his side. By the end of the first year, Quality Transportation was running fifteen trucks out of the Baker office. Within the first 10 years of starting Quality, Mike added much value to his company by hiring dispatch, accounts payable and receivable, financial, and safety personnel to fulfill his vision.
In 1987 they added a brokerage company known as Q.T., Inc., which allowed him to continue with a brokerage division and with those who wanted to operate on their own authority.
With the main focus being great customer service, Mike saw the need to have a second location in a highly active area within South Dakota. This led to the opening of the Rapid City office in 1995.
In the beginning, Quality Transportation started hauling a lot of lumber and grain out of the Pacific Northwest. Then in the late 90’s, when the oilfield started to pick up again in Baker, Quality broke into hauling pipe and other oilfield products. The company was able to survive the boom-bust cycles of the oilfield however due to the long term relationships they established early on with their customers by providing great service at a fair price in a timely manner.
With the addition of the Rapid City office and the increase in hauling pipe out of Oklahoma and Texas into Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, a freight pattern was created. The point of contact there allows independent contractors in the Black Hills to be out on the road making money and still get home every week to ten days.
“We feel the most important thing we can do for an independent contractor is to keep their truck loaded, get them paid and get them home,” said Griffith. “When we do this it is not only great for them, but for the company as a whole.”
At the end of 2011, Quality Transportation made the decision to partner with Mcleod software and use it for their operating system. This has allowed them to better meet the needs of their customers, owner operators and employees by keeping track of what they do on a day to day basis.
Mike passed away in 2012. His funeral was filled with friends/employees/owner operators from all over the United States telling stories about what a big heart he had. His son and the current CEO, Patrick, had joined the company in 2006 making the transition of leadership more fluid during the company’s unexpected loss. Then in 2016, the Heller’s retired leaving Patrick and his mother, Anna, sole owners of Quality.
From the inside, Quality Transportation truly is more of a family than a company. Many employees are literally Mike’s closest relatives. And a majority of the employees have been with the company since its earliest days, sporting anywhere from 25-31 years of service. “The longevity of the employees and owner operators that have stayed with Quality/QT have not only contributed to the success of the company but also a family atmosphere amongst the employees and owner operators,” said Griffith.
It is because of this family atmosphere that Quality has always been a proud supporter of the Baker community and school system. If someone is in need, they have to look no farther than Quality Transportation. Whether providing meals for family during funerals or buying tickets for children to attend a special basketball game, Mike and Anna always made that happen. This generosity continues today.
Over the years, Quality Transportation has grown its fleet and created new services to better meet customers’ needs. The business’s future seems on track for continued success. “We want to continue to meet the ever changing needs of our customers and the trucking industry in a safe manner,” said Griffith. “Our Baker and Rapid City offices are always looking to grow our customer base and continue to add trucks to our fleet.”
“It is my hope that at least one of my children will someday enjoy working at Quality as well,” continued Griffith, “and eventually make it a third generation family business.”