Tractor Supply Co. cuts costs with trailer monitoring service

For Tractor Supply Co., the peak sales season begins in March and flows through June. Traditionally, the company’s five distribution centers (DCs) handled this annual surge in freight by flexing up its trailer capacity.

Until this year, the company had limited means to determine if its DCs actually needed more trailers, says Todd Kane, carrier operations manager.

Requests for more trailers are handled by the corporate office in Brentwood, Tenn. Tractor Supply Co., the nation’s largest retail ranch and farm chain, leases all its trailers and contracts with a third party that transports its freight from suppliers to DCs en route to more than 750 retail stores nationwide.

This year, the company accurately determined that only one DC actually needed more trailers, and not because sales dropped off, says Todd Kane, carrier operations manager. The company manages its trailer fleet by using the trailer monitoring service provided by its trailer leasing vendor, Xtra Lease. St. Louis, Mo.-based Xtra Lease offers an untethered trailer management service from Qualcomm at no extra cost, says Steve Zaborowski, the company’s senior vice president.

“We were finding trailers all over the U.S.,” Kane says. “Some had been sitting on our property for four to six months.”