“We’re in both the trucking and construction businesses,” says Len Cicciarelli, who heads up operations and management for Core Building Materials. “In several ways, it’s becoming more challenging for us. We’re not a logistics company, but we are dealing with many of the same issues as trucking companies, including an increasing amount of regulation.”
A family-owned business, Core Building Materials has been supplying building materials to contractors, construction companies and home improvement experts for more than 50 years. Based in Vestal, N.Y., the company operates from locations in Vestal and Horseheads, N.Y., and from its newest facility in Albany. Core Building Materials carries a large variety of items from leading manufacturers. Included are drywall, concrete, masonry, insulation, landscape stone and brick, as well as drainage and lighting products.
The biggest consideration
“We need to have the ability to offload a variety of materials at residential and commercial locations, including placing them inside the building, even into an exact room,” Cicciarelli explains. “The ability to spec our fleet of trucks to meet those operational needs, while also fielding equipment that is standardized, durable and reliable, is essential to us.”
Operating regionally, the Core Building Materials fleet covers local and highway routes daily. Fielding the right equipment for its business is a challenge that the company is meeting with a fleet of about 25 Volvo VHD straight trucks. The Class 8 models are equipped with 26-ft. flatbed bodies and loader cranes supplied by HIAB, and with Moffett truck-mounted forklifts.
“We average a 10-year lifecycle for our trucks,” Cicciarelli relates. “That equates to about 200,000 miles, although depending on boom and crane use we can see a higher number of engine hours on some vehicles. In general, we try to rotate out two or three trucks each year to keep our capital investment needs in check, but we’re not on an exact trade cycle.
“In most cases, while price is important to us, vehicle replacement decisions in our operation have more to do with operating and maintenance costs.”
Turning to outside service providers
Vehicle service is a major factor at Core Building Materials.
“Because we operate specialized vehicles and can’t just rent a replacement if a truck is out of service,” Cicciarelli notes, “we turn to outside providers to ensure that our equipment is maintained properly and repaired as expediently as possible. If preventive maintenance is done correctly and driver complaints are addressed quickly, we don’t experience the downtime that can hamper our productivity and negatively impact customer service.”
For its new vehicles, and almost all of its truck maintenance and repair needs including warranty work, Core Building Materials turns to Burr Truck & Trailer Sales. The Volvo truck dealership meets service needs in its 15-bay shop for the fleet’s vehicles based in Vestal, and in its Horseheads, New York, location about 60 miles away. Equipment from that facility is brought to Vestal where additional vehicles that can be used as temporary replacements are domiciled.
For its newest location in Albany, Core Building materials sources new vehicles from Burr Truck and Trailer Sales. Given the 150 miles from that facility to Vestal, however, the company is planning to use Albany Truck Sales, a Volvo dealer, for its service needs at that location. Also providing service to the fleet are local tire dealers, which provide Michelin steer tires and Bandag drive tire retreads.
“We partnered with Burr Truck and Trailer Sales because they have been able to accommodate all of our maintenance and repair needs,” Cicciarelli says. “They operate two shifts, so routine maintenance and most repairs can be done after our trucks are back for the day, or very quickly during the day if a need arises. Burr Truck & Trailer also offers Volvo Action Service for roadside assistance if one of our trucks breaks down on the road.
“We recognize that truck technology keeps changing,” Cicciarelli continues, “and we know that Burr Truck and Trailer is keeping up with the newest components and equipment by training their technicians to provide us with top-of-the-line service.”
Recruiting new drivers
Reliable, modern equipment is also important at Core Building Materials, Cicciarelli notes, because it helps the company recruit new drivers. “We’re not immune to the scarcity of drivers that is hampering many trucking companies, and in our operation we need people who are willing to operate unloading equipment and sometimes manually unload vehicles as well,” he says.
“As drivers become more scarce, we need to do as much as possible,” Cicciarelli adds. “We want to bring on younger people who will stay with us for a long time, so we offer the best equipment possible, as well as training and good wages.”
Looking ahead, Cicciarelli says industry and operational challenges will likely continue to lead to more reliance on outside experts and services to help manage the Core Building Materials fleet. For example, the company is working with Verizon to evaluate solutions for tracking vehicles, routing, communications and maintenance management.
“The more difficult the trucking part of our business becomes, the more important it is that we address issues head on,” Cicciarelli says. “Being in the construction materials and trucking businesses at the same time is more challenging, but with the right operations and management practices we can meet our needs very effectively.”