Designing and fabricating economical, ready-to-assemble metal building structures is Ceco Building Systems' specialty. Over its 60-year history, the company's product line has evolved from simple, straightforward metal building systems to more complex ones, such as schools, government buildings, large distribution warehouses, and commercial shopping centers.
As a manufacturer, Ceco depends on truck transportation to get its products into the market. That's why it turned to Ruan for dedicated contract carriage service. “We used to own our fleet many years ago,” states Roger Burlingame, vp-general manager, Ceco Building Systems, Southern Region. “But running a fleet is not our core competency. We felt it would be better managed and controlled by professionals who do this every day. So in 1991, Ceco began a relationship with Ruan and they assumed full responsibility for our fleet operations.”
The partnership with Ruan, notes Burlingame, goes beyond a full-service lease contract. All drivers for the Ceco delivery fleet, for example, are Ruan employees. So is the on-site dispatcher at Ceco's 275,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Columbus, MS.
Ceco Building Systems, which sells its products primarily east of the Rocky Mountains, is broken down into three regions — Midwestern, Southern and Eastern — with facilities located in Iowa, Mississippi and North Carolina. The Eastern Region, Burlingame notes, also utilizes Ruan as its transportation provider.
“In the Southern Region, our market is Florida to El Paso, TX, and from the Gulf Coast north to southern Indiana, plus a part of West Virginia. We market our product through a confederation of contractors and building erectors who represent the Ceco brand of steel structures in their marketplaces,” he explains.
Ceco's Southern Region leases both tractors and trailers from Ruan. The tractor fleet — domiciled at Ruan's maintenance shop four miles away — includes 14 International conventional sleepers. Ten of these are 2006 model year 9400i International power units spec'd with Cummins diesels rated 464 hp. There are also 41 flatbed trailers located at Ceco's yard. These include six 48-ft. aluminum air-ride Utility trailers used for long hauls, such as to Texas and South Florida. The majority of flatbeds, however, are 48-ft. Fruehaufs.
Burlingame notes the summer months tend to be the busiest time for Ceco, when the pace picks up for construction projects. “When our need for trucks exceeds the number of leased Ruan units at our disposal, the dispatcher for Ruan will negotiate with three local contract haulers to take loads. These are experienced over-the-road carriers who are knowledgeable about handling our product.”
Burlingame says Ceco does not distinguish between Ruan's dispatcher and drivers and its own employees, but treats them all as equals. “In fact, many of the Ruan-employed drivers here today are held over from the days when we owned our own fleet.
“We have a no-exception rule about the delivery of our product: we insist the first load is delivered at the construction site at 8:00 a.m.,” he continues. “The Ruan drivers all know when they have to deliver to a job site, and the dispatcher works out the scheduling and routing to make sure they are there on time. We've had no complaints in this area at all.”
The dispatching and maintenance functions handled by Ruan are all but transparent to Ceco, Burlingame reports. Scheduling, he notes, is the biggest transportation challenge, and one that Ruan meets very well. A typical day is 10 to 12 loads, but now and then they may have 17 or even 20 loads that customers absolutely must receive. “We just turn the problem over to Ruan and they take care of it for us.”
Ruan has also helped Ceco become more cost-efficient in regard to inbound freight. “About three years ago,” Burlingame reports, “I was interested in getting involved in a backhaul program. They worked with us to help analyze where our pickup points were for primary raw materials we use in fabricating our building structures. Now we are backhauling product 25 to 35% of the time. We believe we are saving upwards of $200,000 a year in inbound freight costs. It's a win-win for us and our suppliers.”