You may not know it, but there’s a fairly good chance that on any given day you’ll find yourself in a home or building that was built with materials supplied by BMC. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company is one of the largest lumber and building materials suppliers in the U.S., providing a wide selection of products from 106 distribution yards in 18 states.
The diversity of the BMC operation is even more complex when you consider that each of its retail hardware and lumber yard locations offers a product assortment geared toward meeting the needs of the local markets it serves. And adding to that complexity is the company’s steady growth from acquisitions and mergers.
“Our product and service offerings directly affect our vehicle and equipment choices.”Alex Eadie, BMC’s director of supply chain, fleet, logistics and indirect spend
“Our product and service offerings directly affect our vehicle and equipment choices,” says Alex Eadie, BMC’s director of supply chain, fleet, logistics and indirect spend. “That diversity requires that we have an equally diverse fleet in order to meet different needs. Location also factors into our fleet equipment choices. In large city locations, for example, we often need smaller equipment to handle deliveries to jobsites on tighter roads.”
BMC currently has a wide range of vehicle and equipment brands in its fleet. Included are 1,278 pickups, SUVs and vans; 586 box and flatbed dump trucks; 880 tractors and dual axle Moffett trucks, and 1,046 trailers consisting mainly of flatbed and truss units. Other equipment in the operation includes 107 demountable boxes, 415 mountable lifts and 1,688 forklifts.
Streamlining the fleet
“We are focusing on standardizing the fleet as much as possible,” Eadie says. “Going forward we have identified partners we will be working with closely to supply our vehicle needs.”
Those manufacturers include Ram and Chevrolet for light-duty units, and Kenworth and Peterbilt for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and tractors. Hyundai supplies the company with flatbeds and Precision Trailers manufactures its truss trailers. In addition, mountable lifts come from Moffett, while Hyster, Toyota, Caterpillar and Combilift provide the operation’s forklifts.
The BMC fleet of fleet of medium- and heavy-duty trucks used to deliver lumber and other building products to customer jobsites continues to expand through growth and acquisitions. In the past two years the company has taken delivery of 100 Kenworth T880s and 50 T270s, and it plans to add more of the OEM’s models this year as well.
BMC’s heavy-duty straight trucks, including its newer Kenworth T880s, are used to deliver large building materials, such as trusses, lumber and beams, from warehouse locations or manufacturing partner plants directly to jobsites. T880 tractors and flatbed trailers deliver the same products to sites that require more material, such as multi-story high rises. The fleet’s 26,000-lb. GVWR T270 trucks deliver lighter weight products such as doors, windows and trim packages from BMC store locations to jobsites.
“Our straight trucks are especially useful when delivering to smaller projects or in the city where tight roads make deliveries difficult,” Eadie says. “We look closely at turning radius when making a decision about trucks for these types of deliveries.”
To further enhance maneuverability in tight urban areas, at the suggestion of its Kenworth dealer BMC decided to replace the step on the T880 frame with steps on the DEF tank. That change, which according to Eadie shortened the wheelbase by 15 in., is now a standard spec for all of the company’s future truck orders.
“Driver recruitment and retention is one of our largest challenges as a company, so we are also always looking to make our trucks more comfortable, easier and safer to drive by adding advanced technology,” Eadie adds. “We are continuously replacing our oldest equipment with new models that feature the latest technologies.
Making timely deliveries
“We want our customers to know we’re serious about making timely deliveries,” Eadie continues. “That’s why we constantly improve our specifications and focus on fielding a well-maintained fleet. If the building timeline rests on the shoulders of those making deliveries, we aren’t doing our jobs.”
Being a company built on acquisition, Eadie adds, there is also diversity in BMC’s maintenance programs. “In select markets, we have internal shops that manage all maintenance and small repairs,” he explains. “In other markets, we are completely outsourced to local vendors or partners such as Penske. In addition, to keep track of our vehicle service operation, and to provide for better control over repair expenses, we partner with ARI to manage the program.
“Through ARI we have established approval hierarchies and maintenance reporting programs,” Eadie continues. “Through ARI we are able to track a lot of metrics. For example, we know how well we are maintaining our fleet, what our costs are, what our Vehicle Economic Service Life expectations are by vehicle type, and what our exact cost of ownership is by vehicle.
“This allows us to establish ranking reports and goals for our locations and markets,” Eadie says. “At the same time, through telematics and an internal logistics tool we measure idle time for each truck to minimize the amount of wasted fuel, and we look at our fleet utilization based on days used, miles driven, number of loads, weight per load, etc. This allows us to establish goals and make comparisons between markets and locations.”
The constant effort to improve fleet operations at BMC is about enabling a level of reliability that enhances customer experience.