How one fleet eliminates emergency tire road service issues

March 1, 2009
Located In Dade City, Florida, Rowland Transportation specializes in hauling temperature-sensitive products. Begun in 1978 as an outgrowth of a dairy

Located In Dade City, Florida, Rowland Transportation specializes in hauling temperature-sensitive products. Begun in 1978 as an outgrowth of a dairy operation, the company transitioned in hauling temperature-controlled products just 10 years ago. It now delivers perishable food-stuffs throughout the lower 48 states, but concentrates a good portion of business in the southeast.

The company operates a fleet of 63 tractors and 80 refrigerated trailers. All of the 58 company-owned tractors are either Kenworth T600 or T660 sleepers, outfitted with numerous interior amenities and features. The other five tractors are owned and operated by independent contractors.

Trailers are all company-owned, with 90% being Utility models and the rest Great Danes. The vast majority of the trailers have Thermo King refrigeration units. The last purchases were Utility trailers with Thermo King reefers.

As owners of the all-refrigerated trucking company, Doc Hyder, brother Dustin Rowland, and sister Dina Rowland Bardin are all hands-on.

“Our father, Buddy, started the trucking business, and we watched the company grow, thanks to on-time deliveries and excellent customer service,” says Hyder. “So, when the three of us took over from dad when he retired, we stayed with that work ethic and penchant for delivering when we say we will.”

Buddy Rowland was a farmer who owned three dairies. The co-op he belonged to needed someone to haul milk. “Dad began using one of his trucks to do it,” Hyder explains. “After a while, he bought some tankers for hauling milk, eventually getting out of the dairy business and growing his trucking operation.”

About 10 years ago, Rowland Transportation stopped hauling tankers and concentrated on hauling temperature-controlled products.

“We operate our own maintenance shop and can do just about everything,” says Hyder. “This helps us keep operating costs down and enables us to have consistency in our service and repair work.”

Toward those same goals, for on-the-road tire service, Rowland Transportation uses Goodyear and its fleetHQ program. The program provides roadside assistance, national tire pricing, and centralized billing through local dealers.

This has helped the carrier get its tire problems fixed more quickly and “we don't have to worry about pricing,” says Hyder. “What we pay for a tire on the road is what we pay for the tire at home.”

Tire problems

Like the dairy business, trucking is a 24-hour, seven-day a week business. For years, he and his brother would get calls from drivers at all hours with a tire problem that they would have to handle.

“It seemed like tire problems always happened in the middle of the night,” says Hyder. “We'd have to search the Internet, find someone with a 24-hour service, get them to make a service call in a timely manner, and hope they didn't gouge us on price.”

Tire problems that took a long time to resolve caused the company to lose delivery time and customer goodwill. “The cost of a tire problem went well beyond the cost of replacement.”

The corner on curbing tire costs and downtime was turned four years ago when Rowland Transportation developed a relationship with McGee Tire of Florida. The company provides the carrier with a cradle-to-grave tire program, which includes using retreads and Goodyear's fleetHQ emergency roadside service.

“When customers sign up for fleetHQ, we develop a tire list so that when fleetHQ is called, dispatchers know immediately what type of tires are needed for replacement,” says Duane Koscielski of McGee Tire. “Our customers can track online the status of repairs.”

Another element of fleetHQ is tire management tools that consolidate information to help fleets make more informed business decisions, he notes. Among these tools are inventory management; tire purchase, retread and road service history; and cost of ownership and operation analysis.

“FleetHQ helps us tremendously,” says Hyder. “It allows us to control our costs and be in command of what tires are going on our vehicles.

“It's also helping us to get our trucks back up and running faster than ever, which not only makes our drivers happy, but our customers as well.”

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