For the last ten years, things have been running along smoothly on the transportation end of Mission Concrete Products' business. But that wasn't always the case. Before moving to full-maintenance leasing, the company — which manufactures stepping stones, building block, retaining wall block and other concrete landscape products — relied solely on a private contractor and aging fleet to get its products delivered to retail customers, including home improvement stores, rockeries and landscape/garden centers.
“For a small-to-medium sized company like us with only five delivery trucks, having just one truck out of service means 20% of the fleet is down,” says Patrick Quinn, president of Mission Concrete Products. “Over three or four days time, that could mean 20 customers don't get their promised deliveries. That's a real problem for us, especially during the busy seasons when customers need quick turnover times.”
Quinn says his lease-maintenance contract is with Coast Counties Peterbilt of San Jose, CA. The five leased tractors are all 2002 Peterbilt Model 385 conventional units, powered by Caterpillar C-12 engines.
Quinn notes that although the trucks are a leased product, he was still able to spec exactly what he needed on them for his operation, including a 180-in. WB. Length is an issue because trucks go into tight parking lots at the retail locations, and weight is also critical since they go out fully loaded at 80,000-lb. gross almost every time. “We needed the lightest and shortest coupled unit possible.”
The Mission Concrete Products owns its trailer fleet, which is currently a combination of Fruehauf and Trailmobile vans between 40 and 44 inches in length. The company also has several end-dumps for hauling aggregates like sand and gravel from local vendors to the Mission Concrete manufacturing plant located in Gilroy, CA.
“We initially operated out of San Jose for approximately 32 years,” Quinn reports. “But recently we needed more room for our inventory, so a year and a half ago we purchased property and a building in Gilroy and were able to put in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at the same time.”
Quinn attributes much of his company's success to its ability to fill its customers orders in a timely manner, especially during their busy seasons of spring, summer and fall. Customers' delivery needs vary, he notes, so Mission Concrete's five full-time drivers need to be flexible as well. “One of our customers has a few stores that only take deliveries at night; other customers have stores in southern California, meaning it's an overnight trip for the driver.”
Mission Concrete Products has a full-time dispatcher, who Quinn describes as the point man for customers when they call in to set up deliveries and/or find out where their orders/trucks are. “We typically turn orders around within three to seven days, but there are also times when we are called upon to do a same-day delivery.
“All drivers carry cell phones so we can be in contact with them. When we turn our fleet over in two years, the next set of trucks we lease from Coast Counties will also include PacLease's Pactrac onboard vehicle and driver monitoring system on them.”
Coast Counties keeps track of when the trucks are due for servicing based on the mileage. Quinn notes that he gets monthly mileage update reports from them. Since transitioning to leasing, he says fuel economy in the fleet has improved dramatically in large part because the trucks are newer, better equipped, and are being serviced regularly.
Drivers for Mission Concrete Products, Quinn explains, average three separate loads per day, each involving somewhere between three and six stops. “Driver retention is one of our biggest challenges,” he reports. “It's a long learning curve with all our various customers and routes, so the longer we can keep them in place the better for both us and our customers.
“We've found that offering them the Peterbilt trucks, equipped with nice stereos, many convenience features and power everything, has gone a long way in keeping drivers on board. We've been leasing the Peterbilts now for ten years, and since then we've got one driver who's been with us for nine years, the rest between four and six years.”