The model for success at The Monarch Cement Co. is built on integration, notes Kent Webber, manager of subsidiary operations. “We manufacture cement and market it to our subsidiaries that produce concrete, and they sell it for use in residential, commercial and municipal construction projects,” he explains. “Our fleet is a major component of our business because from the plant all the way to the job site, our products require transportation.”
Based in Humboldt, KS, the company operates in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. “We operate in a specific region because a cement plant is a fixed-base operation,” Webber says, “and there’s a point beyond which the cost of transporting and delivering products makes us uncompetitive. At the same time, our business requires a variety of types of equipment.”
Hauled by its transportation operation headquartered in northwest Arkansas, Monarch Cement delivers product to its 11 subsidiaries, which combined run 250 mixer trucks, 40 tractors, 20 dump trucks, and flatbed and tank trailers. A centralized approach to spec’ing and purchasing has led to standardization across the fleet.
“We’ve settled on Kenworth W900S models with 10-yd. McNeilus mixer bodies and Kenworth T680 and T880 tractors,” Webber states. “Our average fleet age is nine years, and our dump trucks are actually built on 10-year-old W900S mixer chassis. We track cost per mile, age and mileage closely for each vehicle and either rebuild units, place them into low-mileage reserve service, or sell them outright.”
The W900S with a set-forward front axle has been Monarch Cement’s go-to mixer for many years. To maximize loads and comply with bridge laws, Webber notes, the set-forward axle provides the right weight distribution. The latest W900S mixers in the fleet feature a Paccar MX-13 engine rated at 430 hp. and an Eaton UltraShift Plus transmission. Kenworth T680 and T880 models in the fleet are powered by 455-hp. MX-13 engines.
The company’s Kenworth T680 models with 52-in. sleepers were specified to be more than 1,700 lbs. lighter than the company’s standard tractor. “These tractors run from Arkansas to Kansas hauling cement in pneumatic trailers, so carrying more payload means more revenue,” Webber states. “We saved nearly a ton of weight on those units by spec’ing Meritor FueLite tandem 6x2 axles, wide-base drive tires, and an aluminum fifth wheel. We also have T880 day cabs that haul flatbed trailers with brick and blocks that are about 400 lbs. lighter than the T800s we purchased previously.”
All new trucks at Monarch Cement are purchased through MHC Kenworth. All routine maintenance and minor repairs for the fleet are handled at in-house shops operated by the subsidiaries that use them. The maintenance operation uses MHC locations for major repairs.
“In this business, having a dealer group that supports your operation and bends over backwards for you is extremely important for ensuring product and materials are delivered on schedule to plants and construction sites,” Webber says.
“That’s especially important as the construction market in our region continues to grow,” Webber continues. “While we’re still only expecting single-digit growth in construction activity, this year will be better than last year, which was better than the year before.”