Jul 1, 2005 12:00 PM
IT MIGHT seem a little incongruous that Mike Nesbitt owns and operates Jonesco Trucking Inc in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he also is an associate professor and head athletic trainer at Northern Arizona University.
You could say that he takes it all in stride.
Keeping athletes in shape corresponds to running a lean and efficient petroleum transportation company, and Nesbitt uses that philosophy to the utmost.
“We get paid by the gallon, and we run about 50 percent empty on backhauls,” he says. “Which means we want a trailer and tractor unit that gives us the opportunity to haul as much product as is legal.”
Nesbitt also knows the importance of having a good coaching staff, so recently he hired Steve Johnson as business manager and Carl Peterson, a retired Arizona Department of Transportation official, to oversee safety and training. Also part of the company team are Donald Lundberg, operations manager, and Susan Lundberg, dispatcher and office administrator.
A former student of Nesbitt's, Johnson addresses customer service and marketing with efficiency in mind and added some of the latest computer systems to make the operation run smoothly.
He selected Prophesy Transportation Solutions integrated software solutions for dispatch, accounting, and maintenance, as well as Prophesy's FuelLogic for fuel use optimization. Johnson also added a JJ Keller software program for driver logs that allows logs to be scanned into the carrier's Windows-based computer program.
Maintenance operations are managed with Prophesy's Fleet Trax, which is designed to generate work orders and can schedule preventive maintenance by hours, days, or miles. It provides access and control inventory, purchase order, or warranty information on the vehicles.
“I like to hire good people and then get out of the way,” Nesbitt says.
The carrier runs about 3.1 million miles annually and hauls about 52 million gallons in that time frame.
Product is loaded at refineries in Jamestown and Bloomfield, New Mexico. Other loading terminals are connected to pipelines in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Tucson, and Winona, Arizona. Loading terminals also are located in Winslow and Kingman, Arizona.
Product typically is transported to convenience stores and/or petroleum jobber locations in Arizona and New Mexico. The logistics involved in the service dictates the 50% loaded rate, which is another reason Nesbitt looks for equipment that allows him to keep the company operating efficiently.
“The volume we get with the Beall trailers is just great, and Beall builds a light trailer” he says.
He specifies Beall Corp four-compartment tank trailers with a capacity of 9,100 to 9,500 gallons. The fleet consists of 13 petroleum transports.
The newest DOT406 tanker added to the fleet is equipped with Emco Wheaton four-inch API adaptors, Civacon overfill protection, and Knappco internal valves and domelids.
Running gear includes Hendrickson's Intraax axle and suspension system, Haldex antilock braking, Michelin tires, and Consolidated Metco aluminum hubs. Truck-Lite supplies lighting.
For tractors, Nesbitt has settled on Peterbilts. “We've just ordered two new tractors with Caterpillar C13 engines that give us a little weight advantage,” he says. “We also decided to change from 11R 24.5 tires to 10R 22.5 low profiles on tractors and tank trailers and saved about 580 pounds for 18 wheels.”
Having observed the time involved in separating tractor from trailer (Nesbitt has a commercial driver license and climbs into the cab as needed), he decided to specify fixed-position fifthwheels. “The tractor and trailer are only unhooked by mechanics when vehicles go in for service or repairs,” Nesbitt says. “That saves a lot of time and effort for drivers.”
In 2004, Nesbitt decided a new office and maintenance facility would improve the operation, so he made a $750,000 investment in a building that houses an administration area and a three-bay shop. Each bay is 75 feet long to accommodate the full rigs.
The shop is designed with overhead lines for air and electricity. Some of the lines drop at the doors for easy access when vehicles are parked outside for a quick job.
“The Ingersoll Rand rotary air compressor is the best investment I have made lately,” Nesbitt says. “It has cut my shop electric bill in half.”
An epoxy was used to seal the shop floor, which allows for easier cleanup, and a protective aluminum wall shield reaches eight feet from the floor level. Two-tier tire racks keep tires organized, off the floor, and easily accessible.
Wastewater from the shop is collected in drains and then pumped to a separation unit where the oil is removed to a tank in preparation for disposal. Wastewater goes into an above-ground septic tank and then into a leech field on the property before being absorbed into the ground.
The shop has a $75,000 parts inventory and a new 500-gallon bulk oil tank for Shell Rotilla 15/40 engine oil. Waste oils are used to fuel a Lanair boiler that heats the shop.
Committed to handling as much of the vehicle maintenance as possible in-house, Nesbitt runs a service truck. The 1992 Peterbilt 375 has a service body and is equipped with an air compressor, welding machine, and hoist.
Mechanics handle tractor and tank trailer preventive maintenance and repairs. Tractors receive oil changes at 12,000-mile intervals, and an oil analysis is conducted at 24,000 miles. Transmission and rear ends are serviced at 500,000 miles, and engines typically are overhauled at 700,000 miles.
Jonesco's petroleum transports face challenging duty with the desert heat in the summer and mountain terrain in both the summer heat and winter snows. At the Salt River Canyon north of Globe, Arizona, the snaking route limits tractors to about five miles per gallon, he says. If the drivers aren't dealing with terrain problems, they have the summer stop-and-go tourist traffic headed for the Grand Canyon north of Flagstaff.
“Despite these problems, I have excellent mechanics whose skills keep our tractors running for 800,000 to a million miles before trade,” he says.
In addition to the shop and office facilities, the three-acre property is large enough for parking vehicles as necessary. Cognizant of the current emphasis on security for hazardous materials haulers, Nesbitt designed a yard that is fully lighted, fenced, and gated. A 10-foot-high concrete block wall protects the back of the property as well as part of the side areas. The chain-link fence surrounding the rest of the area is topped with razor wire.
Security concerns carry over to the driver training program. Drivers are reminded to be alert for suspicious people who might be planning a truck hijacking.
Jonesco drivers participate in the American Trucking Associations and Arizona Trucking Association Highway Watch program formed after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The program is part of a nationwide effort to help prevent terrorists from using large vehicles and/or hazardous cargoes as weapons. Drivers are the eyes and ears of the prevention program.
In addition to security, Jonesco drivers are trained in company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, defensive driving, and hazardous materials handling.
Part of the hazmat program includes consultation from Professional Emergency Resource Services (PERS), which provides regulatory compliance assistance. A training program includes workbooks, facilitator's guide, and training videos specific to flammable liquids.
Other training in addition to that provided by the company includes presentations from Arizona law enforcement officers and an annual safety meeting. Nesbitt was especially pleased with another presentation, Operation Lifesaver, made at the 2004 annual meeting by employees of Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF). The program was founded by the Railway Progress Institute (RPI), the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), and is dedicated to preventing and reducing fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights-of-way.
“Our drivers cross several railroads here in Flagstaff, not counting all the ones they have to maneuver across at other locations,” he says. “Safety at railroad crossings is a hard topic for us to talk to our drivers about. The BNSF folks gave them many facts and our drivers asked a ton of questions.”
The 25 company drivers are coordinated by Donald Lundberg. They pick up the day's assignments at the office and stay in contact with dispatch with cell phones. The carrier typically operates from 9 am until midnight in 12-hour runs.
As for future plans, Nesbitt says he plans further expansion. “But it's got to be controlled growth,” he adds. “There is more business in our market area. When our distributors grow, we grow.”
Nesbitt does most of the marketing and follows up on customer service. “Our distributors like me to check out the new service stations. There is just a lot of public relations that goes with this industry.”
Calling on customers, in addition to driving the trucks in the operation, allows him first-hand knowledge of the logistics. That, coupled with running a company that stays in good condition, places the carrier in a good position to stay ahead in the industry.
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