Cold Winters keep S&B Kessler running hot
Nov 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson
ANOTHER heating season is about to get underway, and propane haulers hope they will be running hard for the next few months. The colder the temperatures and the longer those temperatures last, the more loads of propane that will be hauled.
That's all good news for propane haulers, such as S&B Kessler Inc in New Carlisle, Indiana. Propane brought steady growth for S&B Kessler over the past 10 years as the carrier served a growing customer base, most of which is spread across five Midwestern states.
“Last winter was very strong for us, and it kept our fleet running hard,” says Barry Kessler, owner of S&B Kessler. “It was a cold winter that created plenty of demand for propane. As a result, we had a lot of propane hauls. We hope this winter will be just as good. The coldest part of the past winter lasted 30 days. We need seven to eight weeks of that every winter to have a good year.
“We've become specialists at handling propane transport challenges. S&B Kessler has grown to a good size for the amount of business in this area. In the process, we've built a reputation for excellent service and reliability.”
Becoming a propane transport specialist was a gradual process for Kessler. After obtaining his commercial driver license in 1989, he drove for a short time over the road for Allied Van Lines. When a local farm co-op said it needed another fuel hauler, Kessler bought a tractor and tank trailer and began hauling gasoline and diesel.
Propane was added to the mix in 1999 and soon became the dominant cargo for S&B Kessler. Along with the propane, the carrier still transports some gasoline and diesel, as well as anhydrous ammonia and butane.
“We chose to focus on propane hauling because it offered better growth potential at the time we entered the business,” Kessler says. “It was more open to new carriers. While propane has been good for us, we know we can't rely on just a single cargo.
“Anhydrous ammonia, gasoline, and diesel help keep us busy during the warmer months. Most of the anhydrous ammonia goes to agriculture, but we do have a few industrial accounts. We haul most of the anhydrous ammonia from about mid-March to about mid-May with a smaller second round in June. More ammonia loads are moved in a three-to-four-week period in the fall. Start dates and volumes are determined by temperature and moisture.”
The cargoes are transported by a fleet that includes 25 tractors and 46 tank trailers. Fourteen of the tractors are supplied by owner-operators. Most of the operations are concentrated in a five-state area consisting of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
“We also haul quite a few propane loads into Kentucky and Tennessee during the winter,” Kessler says. “In addition, pipeline problems and other issues last winter resulted in quite a few East and West Coast hauls.”
Propane hauling at the peak of the heating season can be demanding work for the S&B Kessler drivers. Trucks and drivers run hard during the prime heating season. Ice and snow on the roads are among the biggest challenges. In addition, drivers often must contend with delivery locations that haven't been plowed clear of snow.
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus