Smart spec’ing, buying more important than ever, panelists tell CVOC

Trucking today has changed more in the past 10 years than in the entire history of the industry combined, and that makes spec’ing and buying equipment more complicated – and crucial – than ever for fleets.

That was the message Mike Bromhall – vice president of maintenance and maintenance facilities for FFE Transportation – and two colleagues had for attendees at the Commerical Vehicle Outlook Conference in Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 23, during a morning seminar on “Equipment Trends.”

Failure to adapt to new trends today is not an option for fleets, said Bromhall. “Fleet managers and technicians once enjoyed a very static life,” he said. “Today, our work environment is very dynamic, and the pace is only going to get faster.”

Tom Kretsinger, president and chief operating officer of American Central Transport, shared some of his fleet’s spec’ing and buying secrets. One essential component, he said, is to ensure that the purchasing process was a team affair involving all interested parties within the fleet.

“The decision to buy is a multimillion-dollar issue, and you want to get that right the first time,” Kretsinger said. “And while overall vehicle price is important, we don’t look so much at the price of a new vehicle as we do the cost to operate that vehicle over the course of its life with us – which is normally about five years.”

Kretsinger said that while ACT’s team approach to spec’ing takes in a number of critical factors, the driver is the most important aspect of the process – particularly the importance of retaining highly skilled drivers.

“We did some studies recently to discover the financial impact we incur when we lose a driver, and that figure was shocking,” he said. “We estimate we lose $7,600 every time a driver leaves us. But spec’ing the proper equipment to keep drivers comfortable, efficient and profitable while they’re on the road can go a long way toward lessening the chances of that happening.”