Finding time/saving money

Feb. 1, 2007
Huttig Building Products, Inc. (www.huttig.com) is a national wholesale distributor of millwork and other building products and the company knows a thing or two about building a profitable and lasting business as well.

Huttig Building Products, Inc. (www.huttig.com) is a national wholesale distributor of millwork and other building products and the company knows a thing or two about building a profitable and lasting business as well. Founded as a sawmill in 1885 in St. Louis, MO, by Charles Huttig, the 121-year-old company has grown to more than 40 locations today.

At one of those locations, in Phoenix, general manager Erik Nagli has responsibility for the profitability of his distribution center, including managing 17 of the company's 200 fleet vehicles. Nagli is proud of the company's service reputation and dedicated to making sure the Phoenix center thrives under his watch.

“We basically run an all-leased fleet of tractors and purchase our trailers,” Huttig says. “Here in Phoenix, we have all Peterbilt trucks leased through our area PacLease dealer, Rush Enterprises. Right now, we have eight new model 386 Peterbilts and eight older 387s. It is important to me to make sure that our equipment reflects our company's top-of-the-line image. I suppose we might be able to save a little per month going to another truck, but it is just not worth it to me. We have a full-service lease agreement, including maintenance.”

Last year, Huttig asked Nagli to oversee the implementation of PacTrac, the PacLease (www.paclease.com) fleet management tool powered by PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com). The goal was to improve efficiency and save fuel without sacrificing service or driver comfort. “I already had some experience with GPS, so I jumped on the opportunity to get involved,” recalls Nagli.

“PacTrac allows us to automate our driver logs and to monitor critical elements of each driver's performance, including miles per gallon, over-speeding, excessive speed, over RPM, and idling for long and short periods,” Nagli explains. “It also calculates the fuel burned at idle. The system even lets us assign a performance score to each driver based on these metrics and produces a report listing drivers in rank order from the top performer to the poorest performer.”

At first, Nagli says drivers were “a little nervous” about the technology, but that reluctance did not last long. “Some of our drivers were not really computer savvy, so they approached the idea of an automated log with some trepidation,” he recalls. “Now they absolutely love it.”

Nagli may love it even more. “Before PacTrac, we had four drivers who were getting 6 mpg or better,” he says. “Now we have eleven drivers doing that. We were also able to drop from 18 trucks at this location down to 17 because of better productivity. That alone saves us $115,000 per year total.

“For us, PacTrac has been absolute fantastic,” he adds. “We save about half an hour per driver per day just on filling out log books. We used to have time cards, but we had no visibility concerning when a driver actually left the yard as opposed to when he or she clocked in. Now drivers are paid off their logs, too. That saves us another two hours a week of administration time because a clerk does not have to reconcile time cards to logs anymore. Everything ties together, which means we absolutely know that we are compliant, and administration errors are one more thing I don't have to worry about.”

According to Nagli, the PacTrac system has reduced their transportation costs by 20% over all. “We have fixed routes, so you don't necessarily see transportation costs go down if sales drop,” he explains, “because we are still going to all the same places. That makes this drop in transportation costs even more impressive to us.”

About the Author

Wendy Leavitt

Wendy Leavitt joined Fleet Owner in 1998 after serving as editor-in-chief of Trucking Technology magazine for four years.

She began her career in the trucking industry at Kenworth Truck Company in Kirkland, WA where she spent 16 years—the first five years as safety and compliance manager in the engineering department and more than a decade as the company’s manager of advertising and public relations. She has also worked as a book editor, guided authors through the self-publishing process and operated her own marketing and public relations business.

Wendy has a Masters Degree in English and Art History from Western Washington University, where, as a graduate student, she also taught writing.  

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