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Dedicated carrier puts its drivers first with T680s

June 5, 2017
Howard Sodano abides by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s been his mantra since starting his trucking company, HRS Transport, more than 30 years ago.

Howard Sodano abides by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s been his mantra since starting his trucking company, HRS Transport, more than 30 years ago.

“I started with one truck at the age of 25, hauling cheese from New Jersey to the Midwest,” said Sodano. “I had learned the intricacies of the trucking industry as the operations manager for a small fleet, and I used to drive local loads for my grandfather. So I decided that when I hired drivers, I’d treat them the way I’d want to be treated—and that includes driving the best trucks.”

Sodano has grown his fleet to 36 trucks as a dedicated carrier to a health and beauty aids company. He landed the business after a chance meeting with the traffic manager of the company, who asked Sodano if he could run a few loads each week with his truck.

“That was in 1985,” said Sodano. “I gave up the cheese run and decided to put my eggs in this basket, and it’s paid off as I’ve grown with that company, becoming a supply chain partner, not just another trucking company.”

In 2013, Sodano began the transition to the Kenworth T680. He personally test-drove and spec’d the T680 to his liking.

“We were running the Kenworth T660, but we saw the T680 with the Paccar MX as a clear improvement in terms of comfort and performance,” he said. “After the initial two trucks were in our fleet and doing great, we decided to move all the way forward with the T680, and when the T660s aged out (HRS has a trade cycle of less than three years) we replaced them with T680s.”

Sodano spec’s the T680 with 76-inch sleepers to the nines. Just as importantly, the company’s annual fuel costs have come down by nearly $3,000 per truck, thanks to the aerodynamics of the T680, coupled with the Paccar MX-13 engine’s fuel-sipping performance. The engine is rated at 500 horsepower and is driven through a 13-speed Fuller transmission. The T680/MX combo is getting a half-mile per gallon improvement in fuel economy over the performance of his previous combination.

HRS Transport has a driver turnover rate of less than 20%, thanks to Sodano’s “driver-first” mentality.

“I would never put a driver in a truck that I didn’t want to drive myself,” he said. “Plus, I still drive on occasion; I never want to give that up. I know for a fact there is less fatigue in driving the T680. The truck is so quiet; it pulls better and drives nicer. At the end of the day, you’re not as fatigued.”

The T680s feature a 180-degree swivel passenger seat and swivel table, which maximizes the driver’s living space by combining the cab and sleeper into a large studio. The Driver’s Studio also features ample storage space, including a full-size closet for hanging clothes, multiple storage drawers, and a large storage space under the lower bunk.

Sodano specs a refrigerator, Sirius radio and the Kenworth Idle Management System (KIMS) for engine-off heating and cooling, in each of his T680s.

Helping HRS even further is Kenworth TruckTech+, which came with a complimentary two-year subscription with the T680s. TruckTech+ is a remote diagnostic tool imbedded in the T680. It provides instant notifications to the fleet manager, via email, about an issue with a truck—interpreting the fault code into an actionable item, allowing real-time decisionmaking.

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