Do trucks make a difference in keeping operating costs down? “Absolutely,” said Phillip Maxwell, national fleet maintenance director for GCC Ready Mix’s Mid-Continent Concrete Co., and Alliance Transportation in Tulsa, Okla. Together, Mid-Continent and Alliance make up the largest U.S. ready mix subsidiary of Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC), a Mexican holding company.
“We track operating costs per yard for concrete and cost per mile on our dump fleet,” Maxwell said. “We have national benchmark data for both and our costs are well below the average. That’s critical for reining in delivery costs, which allows us to retain market share and grow our business.”
Growth has not been a problem for Mid-Continent Concrete and Alliance Transportation, which was purchased by GCC in 2006.
“Through growth and acquisition, we’re up to 30 batch plants in three states and have 280 mixers and 90 dumps. Outside of a few off-brand trucks we still have through company acquisitions, we buy 100 percent Kenworth. We work closely with MHC Kenworth and its dealerships match up very well with our locations,” said Maxwell.
“We run Kenworth W900S mixers and mostly W900s with five T800s in our dump operation. They’re working out very well and drivers and management really appreciate the great visibility the trucks offer through their sloped hoods and DayLite(R) doors,” said Maxwell. “A tight turning radius is also critical and the trucks let us maneuver well in congested areas. The Kenworth trucks are also very comfortable for drivers, who make between four and six deliveries per day in our mixers.”
Last year, the company further enhanced its truck spec with the purchase of 25 Kenworth W900S mixers equipped with automatic transmissions and disc brakes. “Those were great additions. The automatics allow inexperienced drivers to quickly adapt to the trucks, and our senior drivers like them as well,” said Maxwell. “We’re seeing less wear and tear on the driveline and clutches, so we think our overall costs will further decline on maintenance and repair. As for the new disc brakes, we’re seeing shorter stopping distances and longer brake life. We plan to include both options in our next purchase round of Kenworth trucks.”
While the company traditionally has a 50/50 split in residential and commercial projects, the split has skewed more toward commercial jobs with the housing market slowdown. “We expect commercial work to expand, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” said Maxwell. “There are several large projects earmarked in our area and we anticipate being very active in gaining contracts.”
When it comes time to add new Kenworth trucks, the company has never had a problem finding new homes for its used Kenworth trucks. “We have folks literally waiting in line for our Kenworth trucks,” said Maxwell. “With the specs and how we maintain these trucks, plus the durability inherent in a Kenworth, we’ve had buyers as far away as California and North Carolina. We get excellent resale value, which naturally comes into play when we factor the overall cost of ownership for our Kenworths. We feel they can’t be beat.”