How One Fleet Increased Profits & Efficiency, Reduced Carbon Footprint

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.

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