Gregg, at the Work Truck Show this spring, you shared a unique experience you had with your trucks. Can you give us an overview of what your issues were and what the solutions were?
We developed an ECOMAX truck with the partners of Isuzu and Thermal King and Johnson Bodies which solved a lot of our problems and actually reduced our green footprint. Since not all of Isuzu’s locations have dealer support, we went to ARI for another solution. ARI put together Ford as a chassis opportunity for us. We are going to go to propane and try that as a pilot test to see if it will work for us and help our green footprint at the same time.
What were some of the issues surrounding the need for this vehicle?
In the West, whether it is Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, there is not a lot of opportunity for Isuzu vehicles or foreign trucks. Everybody drives a Ford. One of the reasons we wanted to go to a Ford chassis was that there were plenty of opportunities to get the trucks serviced in those areas. It fills in the gap where Isuzu doesn’t have any locations.
What were some of your unique specs that you needed in your vehicles?
We have refrigerated trucks that we use to deliver food to a lot of the oil fields out that way. Our particular truck has to have both freezer and refrigerator capabilities for the ready-to-eat product lines. It is actually a dual temp truck. Part of the requirements for this new Ford chassis was that it had to have a high output alternator and have the ability to have a bracket put on it to install the engine-driven Thermal King. Where normally people have a separate engine for their Thermal King, we are actually using one engine. It reduces our green footprint about 40 percent over typical Thermal King’s installation.
What cost savings have you enjoyed as a result of this?
We have seen an increase of about $6,000 of increased profit for each route, based on our actual findings that we have done with ECOMAX. We hope to get about the same and actually reduce our green footprint even a little bit more with going with the propane.
When you realized that you had a problem, how did ARI help you?
ARI researched the opportunities we would have as far as what dealerships would be locally available in the event of upfit installation problems or situations such as making sure the alternator and compressor would fit from Thermal King. All of the criteria were very important. If we couldn’t get those installed, we wouldn’t be able to put a truck down. ARI validated all of those opportunities for us and then gave us the best solution. At the same time, we were working with Ford. We understand now that they are going to do a propane truck so we are going to look very seriously at doing the propane truck out in that area.
What kind of feedback are you getting from your drivers?
Our headquarters are in Eden Prairie, right outside of Minneapolis. We have eight routes that pull out of Minneapolis. Any kind of new product or pilot we do it right there and let those guys try the trucks out, kick the tires before we send it out and get it away from our corporate headquarters. They are very good at giving us good feedback. One gentleman actually has kind of a back problem so he is very good for getting feedback on how it feels for his back on operating out a particular truck. It is very important to keep our drivers safe.
Gregg Hodgdon, CAFM, Director of Fleet Operations, E.A. Sween Co.
Gregg has led E.A. Sween Deli Express’ fleet operations for the past 11 years. In this role, he oversees nationwide fleet operations for Deli Express’ private business distribution as well as the consolidated 7-Eleven business.
Gregg was honored with a prestigious Sustainable Fleet Award at the NAFA 2012 Institute & Expo.