Mills Trucking thrives as Mississippi dairy fleet for 5 decades
Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM
His fleet operation, Mills Trucking, hauls milk and other liquid foods throughout the Southeast and even serves some customers as far west as Texas. The fleet is based at Mills' dairy farm in Hillsboro, Mississippi.
“I've been involved in milk hauling and dairy farming virtually my entire life,” Mills says. “My father was in the dairy business, and I followed in his footsteps. This has been a great business even though we've seen quite a bit of consolidation in dairy farms in recent year.
“We used to collect milk from 50 dairy farms in the Hillsboro area, but just eight remain today. Currently, we run about 900 head of cattle on our farm and milk about 500. That makes us probably the largest dairy farm in the area. We've also seen steady growth in our truck fleet operation, and we're very optimistic about the future for that part of our business.”
Britt Crowell, Mill's son in law and a partner in the family business, adds that the trucking operation is a solid performer that has achieved very good growth. “We believe that Mills Trucking is a good size for the market that we currently serve,” he says. “However, we're ready to grow with the right expansion opportunities.”
Mills Trucking has built a solid niche for itself as a regional fleet running 10 tractors and 11 trailers. Six of the trailers are milk tankers, and five are walking floor feed trailers. In addition to milk, the tank trailers are used for other liquid foods, including juices.
Trucking was a key focus for Mills from the very beginning. He started what became Mills Trucking in 1959 and bought his first bobtail with a 2,300-gallon milk tank in 1961. At the time, Mills was hauling milk from the dairy farms in Hillsboro to a co-op in Jackson, about 53 miles west of Hillsboro.
“At first, I lived in Jackson and made the run to Hillsboro every day,” Mills says. “In 1962, I bought land in Hillsboro and started running about 100 milk cows. I built a barn on the property in 1966, and moved my entire operation there.”
Even as Mills established his own dairy farm operation, the milk hauling side of the business was evolving. He purchased his first single-axle milk tanker in 1963 and added the fleet's first tandem-axle tanker in 1968. A truck-and-trailer milk transport followed in 1973.
“As our trucking activity grew, we needed tanks that could haul more product,” Mills says. “That drove our move to bigger equipment. “By the 1980s, we no longer operated bobtails, and we bought our first two 6,000-gallon milk trailers. They were some of the largest in the area at the time. We bought 6,500-gallon trailers in 1989, and that remains our standard size today.”
Maximizing cargo capacity was part of an overall strategy to provide customers with the best possible service. Mills trucking hauls milk seven days a week for its dairy customers. The trucking company employs four fulltime drivers and three to four part-time drivers.
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