IdleAire bets on expansion to swing a profit

IdleAire bets on expansion to swing a profit

It’s not easy being green. Consider the red ink that has flowed from advanced truckstop electrification (ATE) provider IdleAire Technologies Corp

It’s not easy being green. Consider the red ink that has flowed from advanced truckstop electrification (ATE) provider IdleAire Technologies Corp. The company took a $60.3 million net loss in 2006, which more than doubled the $26.9 million loss it suffered in 2005.

This came in spite of a 120% revenue boost in 2006 to $14 million vs. $6.4 million for the previous year. IdleAire said it expects to incur net losses for “the near future” as it builds its network from the ground up while expanding its sales efforts.

However, IdleAire anticipates it will swing to a profit as it increases utilizations rates and gains economies of scale. Chief information officer Tom Badgett told FleetOwner that building a large national network for its core long haul customers and decreasing the vacancies of ATE-equipped lots are the cornerstones of its profitability strategy.

Indeed, ATE hourly usage more than tripled to 1.9 million hours in the fourth quarter of 2006 from 465,000 hours in 4Q 2005. This was achieved thanks to the addition of 75 new sites, said IdleAire.

“With approximately 90,000 regular IdleAire users, establishing a network of locations conveniently available to truck drivers while eliminating out-of-route driving costs is a key for our loyal fleet paying customers,” said IdleAire chairman, president & CEO Michael Crabtree. He added that a convenient network for long-haul fleet drivers is critical for gaining fleet loyalty, evidenced by IdleAire’s aggressive expansion in 2006.

IdleAire as of December 31, 2006 was operating 99 sites with 6,559 ATE-equipped parking spaces, which was a large jump over the 24 sites and 1,365 spaces it had up as of the same date in 2005. In 2006, IdleAire deployed its equipment at 78 travel centers and two fleet terminals. By the end of 2007, the company seeks to have 200 sites operational, Badgett said.

IdleAire seeks to boost overall occupancy, which held flat at 19.5% year-over-year, to between 38 and 43%, Badgett said.

To that end, IdleAire representatives are focused on an aggressive training program. “For a lot of 2006, virtually our entire focus was building on truckstops,” Badgett told FleetOwner. This year IdleAire is shifting focus toward promoting the service to both truck owners and truck operators.

Additionally, the company recently hired Dean Ford as vp of sales to stimulate demand and overall occupancy.

IdleAire’s ATE is an idle reduction solution that provides trucks with heat and AC as well as television and Internet connections, telephone jack, 110-volt outlets and movies on demand—all with virtually no retrofitting cost to the company or driver. Badgett said the company doesn’t consider idle reduction equipment such as APUs to be direct competitors.

“We feel we’re the best [idle reduction option] because there’s virtually no upfront cost while we provide other benefits such as Internet, satellite services,” Badgett said. “[IdleAire] gets the most people in it for the least cost and provides the broadest range of services.”

Using its no-idle solution, IdleAire said its customers saved five million gallons of diesel fuel and prevented 53,000 metric tons of diesel pollution, including 115 million lbs. of carbon dioxide.

To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at [email protected]

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