Sep 1, 2006 12:00 PM, By Mary Davis
EVAN Schuh is one of those fathers who was willing to let go of his company's reins when the time came. In 2004, his two sons, Clint and Barry Schuh, took on the responsibility of Schuh Hauling Inc while their father stepped aside, allowing them to acquire the company. Today, Clint coordinates the Kaukauna, Wisconsin, foodgrade hauling operation while Barry handles administrative duties. Their father, for his part, often finds himself called upon to climb into the cab when an extra driver is needed, and he continues as mentor and advisor.
“We're committed to being the best transportation company we can be,” says Clint. “We've also maintained our father's commitment to integrity and values as our ultimate goal for our small family-owned business.”
Schuh Hauling operates 12 tank trailers and six tractors. The tankers are leased from Blue Grass Tank and Equipment, and the tractors are from Idealease of Northeast Wisconsin/Packer City International Trucks. The Schuh brothers endorsed their father's philosophy for leasing equipment rather than purchasing. That philosophy began many years ago when Evan decided leasing was a better financial fit for his operation. The brothers also lease terminal property that includes an office and shop built several years ago for Evan by the site owner.
Not too far from the terminal, across a few miles of Wisconsin's rolling farmland, is the carrier's largest customer, a 3,000-cow-herd dairy farm that provides Schuh Hauling with 225,000 pounds of milk per day. The automated around-the-clock operation milks 200 cows per hour with the use of a high-tech carrousel. Cattle walk onto the carrousel and stand in place while milking machines are attached. At the end of the cycle, they move off as others arrive in their place.
The milk is chilled to between 36° F and 38° F as it is pumped to an awaiting tank trailer. Schuh Hauling keeps four tank trailers at the farm 24/7 to receive the milk. Pick-up is coordinated by Clint to ensure just-in-time delivery to processors that require a temperature at arrival of between 42° F and 45° F.
“We expect the production at that farm to double later this year,” says Evan. “That means that Clint and Barry will be adding another five tank trailers to their fleet in order to manage the demand.”
The Schuh family successfully bid on the opportunity to serve the large farm, having previously hauled milk for a 1,000-cow herd farm. The carrier currently transports milk for a total of three dairy farms, which adds up to about 300,000 pounds of milk per day transported to milk and cheese processors in the Midwest and Northeast.
One of the farms supplies organic milk that is delivered from Wisconsin to New York. What began as 10 loads per month has grown to 20. Four over-the-road drivers make the round trip in about 3½ days. Meanwhile, Clint looks for compatible backhauls from processors: typically cream, whey, condensed and skim milk, as well as an occasional load of orange juice. Most of the backhauls are booked through Dairy.com, a member-owned group that provides transaction and trading services, including scheduling, spot trading, contracting, and transportation for a variety of dairy commodities.
In addition to dairy products and juice, Schuh Hauling uses three dedicated tank trailers to transport liquid calf feed from processors to veal farm operations in the Midwest. The carrier also has two van trailers used to haul powdered feed for the calf farms. Most of the deliveries are made at night.
“These deliveries are more like our old farm runs where we picked up milk from several barns along the route,” says Evan.
The carrier's 24/7 operation calls for about 15 drivers who are trained by two of the company's veterans of the road. Training includes company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, defensive driving, and specialized procedures involved in loading, transporting, and unloading foodgrade products. Driver training also emphasizes weighing procedures, as well as the importance of sanitary handling.
Security has always been a priority in transporting foodgrade products, but after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, precautions were stepped up. Drivers are trained to observe product seals on outlets that are applied by farm and processor personnel and tank cleaning facilities, and to be alert for any hint of tampering. After initial instruction, drivers undergo on-the-job training under the eye of an instructor, primarily learning the procedures for loading, unloading, and transporting milk from farm to processor. The instructor determines when drivers are qualified.
To administer driver records, Clint and Barry settled on RapidLog, a software program used for entering driver log data. The program reads and interprets the information, including auditing for hours-of-service compliance and noting driver duty status.
“This program is a big help in analyzing driver performance and we use it in our award program,” says Clint.
Drivers are rewarded for safe and efficient performances. They can earn $6,000 to $8,000 in annual bonuses if their records meet the criteria, says Clint. That means no accidents or driving violations, while at the same time meeting delivery schedules.
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