CRUDE oil and condensate helped make Kimrad Transport LP a very successful West Texas tank truck carrier. It continues to drive the company’s growth.

Today, crude oil accounts for roughly 60% of the Amarillo, Texas-based carrier’s business. Another 20% comes from asphalt hauling, and the remaining 20% consists of a variety liquid and dry bulk cargoes, including anhydrous ammonia, propane, refined fuels, glycol, petro chemicals, and fertilizer.

Operations are conducted primarily in the South Central region of the United States, and the carrier serves customers with a fleet that includes 180 tractors (mostly the long nose sort that any owner-operator would be proud to drive) and 300 tank trailers. In addition to Amarillo, the fleet operates from satellite locations in Lubbock, Borger, Saginaw, and Odessa, Texas, and Ardmore, Elk City, and Shattuck, Oklahoma.

“Crude oil has been great for us, and it is something that we are very good at handling,” says Brad Pohlmeier, president of Kimrad Transport. “I’ve never seen the oil business like this. Activity continues to increase, and everybody wants more trucks. There just isn’t enough pipeline capacity to handle the increased output. It probably won’t be long before we see truck shipments of West Texas crude to the Gulf Coast.

“Despite the growing crude oil activity, we’ve been able to build a relatively diverse operation. We haul a relatively broad range of cargoes, and we serve some very good customers. This is very much a family company, and we have two key objectives: Take care of our drivers and our customers. We work hard at that every day.”

Office time

Pohlmeier knew exactly what sort of tank truck fleet he wanted to build when he and wife Kimila started the company 11 years ago. Pohlmeier quite literally grew up in the tank truck industry.

His father, Greg Pohlmeier, worked for Steere Tank Lines Inc from 1969 to 1991, and Brad started spending time at the office with his father from a very early age. “He was always working, and that’s how we had time together,” Brad says.

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By the time Brad was six or seven years old, he was helping out in the maintenance shop at the Steere Tank Lines terminal in Amarillo. “I got to drive a pickup truck when I was eight, and I was parking tractors and trailers at 10.”

Part-time work with his father continued when his father bought four trucks and became a lease terminal operator in Amarillo for Andrews Transport Inc. By 1994, Brad was working full time, and he began running some of his own tractors around 2001.

Brad’s first brush with crude oil came in 1995 with an initial focus in the Permian Basin. By 1999, he was managing 30 crude oil transports for the lease operation throughout west Texas.

Turning point

A disagreement about the direction of the lease operation brought Brad to a turning point in 2003. He and Kimila decided it was time to strike out on their own and build their own truck fleet operation.

“Walking away from my father was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, but it was necessary,” Brad says. “It couldn’t have come during a more stressful year, though.”

In January 2003, Kimila underwent a major operation. In May, her oldest daughter, Kayde, died in a car wreck. Kimila’s father died in September.

Brad and Kimila left their previous jobs in August and began organizing the company. They filed for the operating permits in October, and the first day of business under the new permits was November 15, 2003. Three tractors and three asphalt tank trailers were ready to go, but they just sat with no loads to haul.

“We had all of our permits, we were ready to get to work, and we didn’t get a single customer call,” Brad says. “That was the scariest time. The day before Thanksgiving, we got our first to haul a load of asphalt to a roofing plant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. By the end of the first year, we were running around 20 trucks.”

Asphalt hauler

Asphalt was the sole cargo for the first three years. However, the carrier grew enough that it needed more room, and the company bought part of the property that now makes up the Amarillo terminal.

By 2007, the oil and gas shale revolution was underway, and it wasn’t long before Kimrad Transport was hauling crude oil—first in West Texas and then all over the west. “I had started working with my father again before the first crude hauling opportunity cropped up,” Brad says. “We started with two or three tank trailers of our own and our customer added two or three more.”

The initial business was in the Texas panhandle. Kimrad Transports hauled crude oil and condensate from the wellhead to whatever pipeline station was available. It was a busy time, and the carrier was running nearly 20 crude transports by the end of the year.

After that, it got just plain crazy. Calls for crude transport service came from all over, and it was non-stop. “Equipment—especially crude tankers—was in short supply,” Brad says. “We got equipment where we could. We had some 40-year-old tanks on the road hauling crude oil.”

By 2008, Kimrad Transport had crude transports running in northeastern Colorado and Brad was spending most of his time there coordinating operations and loading tanks. Finding pipeline capacity was a challenge, and some loads were moved as far as 600 miles to an offload point.

“It was hard work, but we did it well,” Brad says. “It was during that time that Kimrad Transport really developed its brand. People got to know us and our capabilities.”

Family reunion

It was also during that time that Brad’s father ended his lease arrangement with Andrews Transport and moved all of his equipment to Kimrad Transport, which had grown to a 60-truck fleet. Greg Pohlmeier’s operation added more than 30 tractors and 60 tank trailers.