Fleetowner 4950 Amigos Foods2a

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Feb. 18, 2015
Amigos Foods reaps rewards from full-service leasing

Two things are on the mind of Manny Rangel Jr., president of Amigos Logistics, the transportation arm of Amigos Foods, where he serves as CFO. “New driver hours-of-service regulations have forced us to rethink many of our distribution patterns,” he says. “We now approach routing on the basis of ensuring drivers have enough on-duty time left to make stops we promised customers before a mandatory rest period begins. Sometimes we have to split routes to stay within the boundaries of the law.

“CSA scores have also become a much larger part of our thinking,” Rangel continues. “Enforcement activity has been growing over the past two years, and negative ratings can impact our image with customers, not to mention point to unsafe practices. That has led to a more concerted effort to adjust operations and educate drivers, so everyone here understands how this affects them and the company.”

Amigos Foods serves food processors and retail customers across the country with a full line of beef, pork, poultry, lamb, seafood, and cheese items. The company operates from distribution centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix.

Along with growth in its business came the need for a reliable fleet to serve an expanding customer base. In the company’s Chicago location, 30 trucks are delivering around the city’s metropolitan area, as well as to distributors, grocery stores, and restaurants up to 200 mi. away in Indianapolis. A typical Amigos Foods truck makes 10 to 12 stops daily.

Amigos Foods also serves customers as far away as 800 mi. east to New York and in all states between there and Illinois. “New York is a growing market for us and it works well since we can make a delivery, then backhaul seafood from the East Coast for Midwest distribution,” Rangel says.

“When we opened our Chicago branch in 2001, we operated our own fleet,” he explains. “However, breakdowns hampered our ability to meet delivery commitments. Ensuring maximum uptime is ultimately the key to our operation’s success.

“We needed to take a different approach,” Rangel continues. “Leasing solved the problem, but at one time we were leasing and renting trucks from three different full-service companies. What we learned was that the quality of a company’s rental trucks is a big indicator of the quality you can expect from leased units and the service you can expect from a full-service provider.”

Now supplied by PacLease, the Amigos Foods fleet in Chicago includes nine medium-duty trucks with 24-ft. refrigerated van bodies. Most are Peterbilt Model 337s, and the newest is a Model 220 cabover to handle some tight areas in Chicago. Bodies for the trucks are supplied by Kidron and Morgan and are equipped with Carrier or Thermo King refrigeration units. The fleet also includes Kenworth T680 and Peterbilt Model 386 models. The sleeper-equipped tractors are powered by 485-hp. Paccar MX-13 engines for long-haul operations.

“Leasing from PacLease has solved our equipment reliability problems,” says Rangel. “Looking back, that’s really no surprise because PacLease rental trucks were all well-spec’d, late-model vehicles. Other companies had older, termed-out lease units in their rental fleets. There was a huge difference in philosophy when it came to offering rentals.

“The right combination of leased vehicles and a full-service provider has allowed us to continue to build an efficient distribution network to support our aggressive business plan for growth,” Rangel states. “We began in Houston in 1994, expanded to serve the Midwest from Chicago in 2001, and in 2006 opened operations in Atlanta and Phoenix to service the eastern and western regions of the country and truly become a player on a national scale.”

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