For October's Trailer Report, Senior Editor Tom Berg spoke with several flatbed fleets about their current buying plans and trailer specs. It turns out these fleets are also buying new trucks.
Melton Truck Lines, Tulsa, Okla., which bought 200 new steel-and-aluminum "combo" flats earlier this year, is also replenishing its tractor fleet.
Like most other fleets, Melton a serious slowdown in 2008 and '09. "We had to scale back just to survive," reports Jeff Robinson, senior vice president, maintenance. "Then we saw business get a little bit better, plus equipment had started to age. We were on a 48- to 52- month trade cycle. Now we've got tractors six years old, they're out of warranty and we're starting to see more repairs."
It's a Kenworth fleet, so the company has bought 265 Kenworth T660s to begin the replenishment. It also bought 15 Freightliner Cascadias "to check 'em out and to keep Kenworth honest," he chuckled. Its KWs "have been very reliable. You take a five-and-a-half-year-old Kenworth and you put it next to other makes and you can see the difference," as the KW is more solid. Melton now has 900 tractors and 1,600 trailers.
Maverick Transportation, North Little Rock, Ark., is renewing its Freightliner tractor fleet with 500 recently purchased Cascadias against 425 trades. It will probably buy 300 next year and trade 200, says Mike Jeffress, vice president of maintenance.
The growth is to serve hauling contracts, not the traditional-style of growth to capture any business available. Tractor specs include Detroit DD15 engines and Eaton UltraShift Plus automated mechanical transmissions and Meritor Electronic Stability Control systems for safety.
Maverick bought about 200 flats this year; all but six are Reitnouer MaxMisers. The others are Fontaine Revolutions.
South Shore Transportation, Sandusky, Ohio, is buying used trailers, but has bought some new tractors, 50 Cascadias, a year ago February, and it's ordered 20 more ordered for delivery next February. "We're trying to get 'em as light as possible," so have gone to DD13 engines instead of 15s, notes Kevin Tomlinson, director of maintenance.