Hi Pro
663e2d5a1b14f87fc400e10d Hi Pro Cng Tractors

Hi Pro: Hauling the mail closer to zero

May 16, 2024
Bulk mail hauler Hi Pro Inc. is gaining a contract edge by transitioning its fleet to low-emission propane and compressed natural gas in Arizona, California, and Colorado while diversifying its asset-based operation to serve more customers.

It’s a niche within a key trucking segment. Day in and day out, around the clock and across the U.S., dedicated haulers carry loads of bulk mail under contract with the United States Postal Service. One of those carriers is Hi Pro Inc.

Headquartered in Twentynine Palms, California, Hi Pro dates its founding to 1978. But hauling the mail is a long-standing business for the family-owned company, which has operated under contract to USPS as a bulk mail hauler for generations.

“We carry bulk mail under contract in California, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Vermont,” CEO Joshua Stoneback said. “Our operation, though, isn’t much different than any other dedicated-contract hauler. We’re an asset-based carrier with company equipment and company drivers in all those locations. We have satellite offices in Denver and Wichita and parking facilities elsewhere.”

Across the country, Hi Pro fields about 155 straight trucks and tractors. About half of the fleet operates from Kansas, a fourth from Colorado, 15% from Arizona, and the balance from remaining locations. Half of the power units are owned; the others are leased from Penske in Kansas, MHC Kenworth in Colorado, and Enterprise.

The Hi Pro fleet consists of a mix of leased and owned trailers. Standard-size trailers are leased from Xtra Lease and Milestone. The fleet’s company-owned trailers and truck bodies are built in custom sizes and door configurations to match specific USPS facilities.

“The decision to lease rather than own equipment depends on the location and the mail contract,” Stoneback explained.

Hi Pro is now taking steps to field as green a fleet as possible. “We are committed to minimizing our carbon footprint by investing in technologies and practices that reduce emissions and promote sustainability,” Stoneback said. “As part of our commitment to environmental responsibility, we are in the process of transitioning our fleet.”

See also: USPS trucking safety audit finds big problems

In Colorado, Hi Pro has begun integrating propane-powered vehicles into its fleet. The first group of five trucks will soon be joined by five additional units. Built on Ford F-750 gasoline chassis and fitted with Morgan bodies, Roush CleanTech converts the trucks, and AmeriGas Propane supplies fuel.

About half of the Hi Pro fleet in Arizona consists of Freightliner Cascadia day cabs powered by compressed natural gas. The tractors feature Cummins Westport ISX12 G engines, Hexagon Agility CNG fuel systems, and 155 diesel-gallon-equivalent CNG fuel tanks. Clean Energy supplies CNG to the Hi Pro fleet in Tucson.

“We’re choosing the types of near-zero emissions vehicles we operate in part based on the availability of fuel near our locations,” Stoneback explained. “Also driving our decision is their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and NOx by 90%, and propane and CNG prices have remained below that of other fuels and have been more consistent.”

“The reliability of our propane and CNG trucks is also a factor,” he continued. “Traditional aftertreatment system issues are frustrating and have caused us to have to maintain spare units or rent replacement vehicles to make sure hauls are completed on time. Bulk mail hauls are scheduled by the minute. We have to arrive and depart on time, or we don’t get the work.”

Stoneback noted that grants and clean energy tax credits also accelerate the return on investment in propane and CNG trucks. “The savings in fuel and maintenance keep operating costs low,” he said, “while the grant money and credits make the ROI undeniable.”

Hi Pro’s desire to operate greener trucks is facilitated by the National Star Route Mail Contractors Association, representing the interests of the transportation companies that contract with USPS. With guidance from the association, the company can bid on contracts that are awarded in part based on sustainability.

Hi Pro is an asset-based dedicated-contract carrier, Stoneback pointed out. “We need to operate like any freight hauler and secure contracts by having the lowest rates and the best service,” he said. “That also includes diversifying our revenue stream by hauling other types of freight and serving a broader customer base, and some of those customers may request their freight be hauled with alternative fuels.”

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience at fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues. 

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