It can be argued that Kenworth trucks have long been touted as driver retention tools - the ride and creature comforts have helped keep many drivers loyal to the companies they drive for.
That's the case for Immel's Dairy Service as well, but according to Troy Immel, his eight new Kenworth T680s with 52-inch mid-roof sleepers are doing him one better. "They're actually attracting drivers to our company," he said with a smile. "Drivers from other companies want to come drive for us - our latest hire came knocking on our door after seeing our trucks on the road. He liked what he saw and wanted to be behind the wheel of a T680."
Hauling milk from farms to creameries throughout Texas, this two-generation business was launched in 1954 by Troy Immel's father. "My dad started hauling milk cans and that evolved into a tanker business hauling milk from dairies to creameries," Immel said. "That's what we still do today, but the amount of territory we cover has expanded. We mostly run in Texas, but we'll also cover neighboring states."
Troy Immel of Immel's Dairy Service with one of his eight Kenworth T680s with the 52-inch mid-roof sleeper.
When Troy bought the company in 1988, Immel's Dairy was using a mixed fleet of trucks. That evolved into running mostly Kenworths. The T680s are replacing Kenworth T800s and the high-mileage operation - each truck runs between 160,000 and 180,000 miles annually - means that fuel economy, reliability and driver comfort are critical considerations.
Immel's Dairy Service specified the 52-inch mid-roof sleeper.
According to Immel, the eight T680s with 52-inch sleepers, equipped with PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 455 hp and driven through 13-speed transmissions, have boosted his fuel savings. "We're running 10 trucks total, but we run them hard. We haul a lot of weight and pull 6,500-gallon tankers," he said. "We're already getting a 5 percent gain in mpg with the T680s over our T800s, and once the trucks are broken in, we expect to approach an overall improvement of 10 percent. That's huge for a small operation like ours."
Since Immel's Dairy Service picks up loads at dairies, the mid-roof 52-inch sleeper was spec'd. "This lowers our profile so we can slide under loading areas without fear of hitting the overhead structures," Immel said. "Our guys will be out six days at a time, so they use the sleeper. The height, compared to the height of our other sleeper, is what I really like."
Immel himself should know all about driver comfort, since he's still driving himself. "I started driving back in 1980, and still drive today," he said. "Our guys, me included, are pretty proud driving the T680 - everyone knows who we are. We all like the new features and comfort of the new truck. The wider cab makes moving around easier, and the larger windshield and slanted hood really gives us a great window out front. And little things, like the doors being able to shut like a passenger car, and the hood being able to be lifted with one hand. Just great. We also have the NavPlus® system and the Bluetooth phone system is outstanding. All in all, we are very happy, so far so good."
Immel, who purchased the trucks through Kenworth of South Texas in San Antonio, said dealer support and spec'ing expertise gives Kenworth a great one-two punch. "When you're the little guy, you pay attention to those who treat you well," he said. "Kenworth of South Texas in San Antonio has always worked well with us and treated us like we're a large fleet customer. That makes a difference to us."
According to Immel, the company normally holds onto its equipment for seven years or 1 million miles. "That's another reason we're sold on Kenworth. We've seen other brands shake apart after so many miles, but the quality of the Kenworth is very evident. They hold up and have structural integrity. And they keep looking good."
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.