America's Service Line
At America’s Service Line, equipment and maintenance programs and dedicated drivers are delivering efficiently for the private carrier.

Private fleet's emphasis on good equipment and drivers drives success

April 5, 2024
At America’s Service Line, equipment and maintenance programs and dedicated drivers are delivering efficiently for the private carrier.

Its mission is straightforward. As the private fleet for American Foods Group, an RDI company, America’s Service Line transports the beef processor’s products from plant locations to market. Today, it meets those needs with a fleet of 240 tractors and 600 trailers from facilities in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Grand Island, Nebraska.

The America’s Service Line fleet also hauls products and supplies between company plants and backhauls refrigerated goods for other food processors under its for-hire authority. As a result, its deadhead mileage is below 10%.

“In its early years, America’s Service Line fielded company-owned trailers and used the services of owner-operators,” said David Giese, fleet maintenance director. “In 2008, we decided that we need to operate our own fleet, so we started buying trucks and hiring drivers.”

The America’s Service Line fleet now includes roughly equal numbers of Kenworth T680 and Freightliner Cascadia tractors. Almost all its trailers are Utility reefers, and Carrier supplies all its refrigeration units.

“There are many good trucks on the market, so for us, it’s not so much what we’re buying but who we’re buying from,” Giese said. “That’s how we settled on Kenworth and Freightliner models. We’re buying from dealers for those manufacturers who we know and trust.”

While quality equipment is essential at America’s Service Line, drivers focused on customer service are equally important. “We’re very selective about the drivers we hire,” Giese related. “We offer higher pay rates and work hard to provide a work and home-life balance, but we need drivers dedicated to providing on-time delivery service. If that’s not their focus, they can’t work here.”

Keeping drivers safe and comfortable is also a key initiative for America’s Service Line. In that regard, Giese noted, technologies can go a long way and can also be a driver retention factor.

Those include the Link ROI Cabmate cab suspension, which uses electronically controlled shock absorbers to increase ride comfort, improve cab stability, and reduce noise and vibration. The shock absorbers adjust automatically in real-time.

See also: Fleet uses technology to improve driver safety

“We first saw Cabmate at a TMC meeting, and after testing it, we began adding the system to our trucks,” Giese said. “Driver acceptance has been phenomenal. It sells itself.”

The fleet also uses the Link SmartValve electronic height control system, which reduces the effort needed to crank the landing gear. Originally installed by dealers on existing units, the system is now factory installed by Kenworth and Freightliner on the carrier’s new trucks.

“With SmartValve, drivers can raise the suspension above ride height to avoid struggling against the weight of the trailer, even when it’s fully loaded,” Giese explained. “That system has proven that it can reduce injuries to our drivers.”

Maintenance for the America’s Service Line fleet is handled in-house at two shops. Repairs under warranty are sent to dealers. The company employs 14 mechanics at its Green Bay facility and six in Grand Island.

“It’s actually been easier for us to find drivers than mechanics,” Giese said. “In Green Bay especially there are many truck dealers and repair facilities so there’s more competition for help. We’ve been most successful growing our own staff from the ground up.”

Working with high school guidance counselors to identify people who might be interested in a truck or trailer service career, America’s Service Line is providing apprenticeships to students who work in the company’s shops. The carrier then offers to pay for a technical education to select candidates who sign contracts to work for the company after graduation.

America’s Service Line manages PM schedules for its tractors, trailers, and reefers using a Paccar dealer solution. Giese noted that the system also lets the carrier follow performance closely by accurately tracking cost per mile.

“America’s Service Line has been transporting food products for American Foods Group for 28 years,” Giese said. “The operation has grown from a small packing house into a business that serves customers from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast.

“Service is what we sell,” Giese added. “We do that efficiently and productively with an elite fleet and maintenance operation, dedicated and experienced logistics, driver manager, load planner, and customer service professionals, and a supportive management team.”

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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