In Clay County, FL, the building business is flourishing. The boon is keeping Carlisle Trucking and Land Clearing pretty busy these days as people from some of the more congested surrounding regions, like Jacksonville, have begun spreading out.
Gary Carlisle, company owner, first started running 10-wheel dump trucks out of Green Cove Springs 13 years ago. In addition to clearing land at construction sites, Carlisle Trucking is sometimes asked to haul in fill dirt and now has its own dirt bed from which to draw. “The competition in our area has become so stiff,” says Carlisle, “that we've had to diversify our operations. On a job we just finished, for instance, we had to clear an 18-acre track and then raise the site five feet. That was thousands upon thousands of loads of dirt we had to haul in.”
Carlisle Trucking currently has 15 dump trucks in the fleet, as well as a Mack tractor and two trailers, one to haul demolition and the other to move heavy-equipment like hoes and bulldozers to job sites.
“Right now we have two Sterling LT9513 tandem-axle dump trucks and one on order,” Carlisle reports. “We like the Sterlings when we can get them. Our local Sterling dealer also has Western Star models, and we have two of them as well.”
Carlisle says Sterling has made some improvements to the dump trucks since they first came out, like going from 22.5-in. to 11×24.5-in. tires, which give them more height and make getting in and out of low-bed construction sites easier and prevent scraping of the rear ends.
All of the Sterling trucks are also equipped with high-horsepower engines designed to handle the demands of clearing new-construction sites. Carlisle says he looks for dumps with engines that have at least 370 hp.
Carlisle specs automatic transmissions, which he says make the trucks so easy to drive he isn't limited to only experienced dump truck operators when he needs to hire new help. He also notes that the Sterling trucks' high-speed reverse allows them to get in and out of sites without difficulty now.
“We've found that although the initial cost of spec'ng automatic transmissions is higher, we're actually saving on maintenance dollars now that we have no clutches to adjust and replace. It's also been much better on the rear ends and they have excellent pulling power.”
Carlisle Trucking keeps its dump trucks approximately two years before trading them in. “We'll go to the Sterling dealer for some of our warranty work, but since they are 40 miles away and we need to keep the trucks up and running as much as possible, it makes more sense for us to have most of our maintenance done locally,” notes Carlisle.
Carlisle says the biggest operating cost for his fleet is fuel, followed by tires. To help defray the high cost of fuel, he buys diesel in bulk and uses his own tanks. “During a job, we will move a tank to the site and have fuel delivered there. We save about 10 cents a gallon doing it this way. That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider we go through many hundreds of gallons of fuel per day, it really adds up.”
When new tires wear out, Carlisle says he always goes with retreads because he's found the compound and rubber on a cap to be much harder than on a new tire. Carlisle's trucks average about 350 miles a day, working 10-hour days, five to six days a week.