The first thing you notice when you talk about drivers at Celadon is a correction to the term. "The term driver is not in our vocabulary here at Celadon," said Nate Roberts, Celadon's vice president of specialized services. "We call them partners, because that's what they are. We have great team members at the home office, and great team members on the road. We support each to make a great company and that's reflected in our success and high retention level. Drivers are truly partners in our operation."
According to Roberts, the "expedite" (team) part of Celadon's business is growing rapidly. "And we're confident it will continue to do so with the recent integration of Kenworth T680s with 76-inch sleeper into the fleet," Roberts said. "The decision to standardize on the T680 for our team operation was based on three main criteria: product reliability, fuel economy and driver comfort," said Roberts.
"Our teams are out pulling miles and the most important thing to them is uptime - they, like us, can't afford a broken down truck and worrying about reliability. They're often driving in the middle of nowhere," said Roberts. "The second part of the equation is comfort. Celadon looked through market surveys and knew that operators love Kenworths. It made selecting the T680 an easy choice - the quality, the fit and finish and amenities in the T680 is top-notch, and our partners say they love the truck. Lastly, fuel economy is critical - the aerodynamics of the T680 will cut our fuel bill, and we're seeing that already."
The Kenworth T680s are being used with 200 of Celadon's expedited teams in the United States, 50 Hyndman teams in Canada, along with Celadon's reefer division. (Hyndman Transport was purchased by Celadon in 2013.)
Each of the T680s is equipped with Kenworth's Idle Management System, which allows for engine-off, battery-powered air conditioning. A fuel-fired heater provides engine-off warmth in the winter months.
"That system is working great, and it's been nice to have factory installation," said Roberts. "Some of our partner teams have less than 1 percent in idle time. That saves us fuel and we know our partners enjoy the quietness and efficiency of the system to stay comfortable during off-hours."
Once the truck is shut down, a control panel in the sleeper maintains temperature control. An LCD display gives full system information, plus monitors remaining battery power, which can last up to 12 hours under load.
According to Roberts, Kenworth's T680 has made its mark on drivers. "It really has," he said. "When we purchased Land Span in 2013 we had a problem retaining our partners, but that quickly changed when we moved them into the Kenworth T680," he said. "Trucks do make a difference. We know that."
"Absolutely," agreed Charles Bullins, who has driven for Celadon for about a year, and prior to that under the Land Span nameplate. "I've driven trucks for 18 years, the last 10 with my girlfriend, Tamara. The Kenworth T680 is the best truck I've ever been in and it means a lot that Celadon didn't skimp on equipment. We basically live in the truck - we're out 24 days at a time - and it's very smooth in the ride with absolutely no wind noise. When we're shut down, I love the swivel seat on the passenger side, so I can do paperwork on the fold-up desk. We also have a 32-inch flat screen TV - we love that."
Bullins said he and Tamara got the keys to the T680 in June and by the end of October had logged 108,000 miles. "No problems to report," he said. "And we're getting great fuel mileage - between 7.8 and 8 miles per gallon. We normally run about 250,000 miles a year."
"That's the kind of productivity and reaction to the T680 we we're hoping for," smiled Roberts. "It confirms our belief that Kenworth's T680 was the right choice for our teams."
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World's Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.