It’s no mystery why safety is a main focus at Newman Carriers. With 90% of its loads consisting of hazardous materials, it takes strict attention to equipment and maintenance, and to driver qualifications, to ensure the products that the carrier hauls are transported with the utmost care.
Headquartered in Fairmont City, Ill., Newman Carriers hauls a wide variety of liquid chemicals to manufacturing plants and water treatment facilities. The carrier operates from two terminals in Illinois to meet customer needs in the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Each of the products we transport requires specialized trailers and experienced personnel with skills necessary for safe and efficient handling of bulk materials,” says Joseph Newman, president of Newman Carriers. “Even during the pandemic this year, we’ve placed emphasis on reliability. While hauls of things like fuel additives have dropped off, we’ve been busy transporting a higher volume of products that are used in cleaning supplies. In that regard, we haven’t been affected like some companies.”
The Newman Carriers fleet of 75 tractors and 148 tankers is spec’d to meet those demands. Included are mainly sleeper-equipped Freightliner New Cascadias and some Kenworths, with an average age of two years.
Trailers include a variety of Tremcar, Polar and Brenner models. Tanker OEMs are chosen based on equipment types with Tremcar supplying center and rear unload insulated units while Polar and Brenner build the fleet’s exposed ring non-insulated models.
“We’d put our trailers up as the most driver-friendly against any tanker company in the U.S.,” Newman says. “For example, while the industry standard hose tube is eight inches in diameter, we spec a 10-in. tube so it’s easier to load and unload hoses. We also put hydraulic pumps on trailers, not tractors, so hose lengths can be shorter and they’re less heavy to move during unloading. In addition, all of our pumps and hoses have extra handles and fittings that are easier to twist on and off.”
Safety is a key focus of all specification choices at Newman Carriers. On tractors, Bendix air disc brakes and WABCO 6S/6M ABS with hill start aid and traction control features are standard. The carrier’s newest Freightliners also feature the Detroit Assurance 5.0 collision mitigation system with adaptive cruise control, side guard assist, electronic stability and a lane departure warning system. In addition, specs call for a forward-facing video system from Bendix.
“We have a full time director of safety and a former driver who serves as a trainer,” Newman relates. “I started in this industry as a driver myself so I also often work with new drivers and haul the occasional load.
“We focus a lot of our driver training on tanker operations, which we develop on our own because the skills needed are so specialized,” Newman continues. “At our main facility, we have a tanker that’s set up to pump water during training exercises, and we’re building a training trailer with windows so drivers can see how the internal valves work.”
Overall, Newman notes, the carrier looks for drivers with two years of experience. A CDL with tanker and hazardous material endorsements is preferred but it routinely hires former van and flatbed operators as well. All new hires must be at least 25 years old and not have had any preventable accidents for three years.
Focus on longevity
“Finding talented drivers is always a challenge,” Newman says. “We stress to candidates that we offer a full package to the right people, but first and foremost we look at their overall professionalism because it speaks volumes about the company. We’ve also determined that we want to focus on longevity. A candidate who has had many driving jobs in a few years is probably not a good fit for us.”
According to Newman, drivers who are hired by Newman Carriers can expect a fair compensation package at rates that are usually above those paid by general freight haulers. Also included is fully paid health insurance for drivers and minimal costs for family coverage, retirement plans including a 401(k), and paid holidays and vacations. The company also has a condominium in Florida that drivers who have been with the company for five years can use for one week.
Keeping the Newman Carriers fleet running smoothly are two company shops staffed by six technicians. Routine tractor service is handled in-house, while dealers handle most major repairs under warranty.
“Our shops focus on tankers and especially on tank inspections,” Newman says. “While barrel testing may be required annually, for instance, our schedule includes inspections, and cargo tank and hose testing, every 90 days. Every other inspection covers the full annual requirements and we align trailer tandems every six months as well. This way, we know our equipment is always in the best possible operating condition.”
“Our mission is to deliver the most professional, cost-effective, and highest level of tank truck carrier service to all of our customers,” Newman says. “But safety never takes a back seat.
“During the pandemic,” Newman adds, “while we supplied drivers with masks and other items, we only used the Hours of Service exemption for six carefully selected drivers who transport loads of ingredients used to make sanitizers. It just wasn’t warranted otherwise, so why take the risk?
“Our business is dependable and safe tank truck carrier transportation,” Newman says, “and everyone here is committed to providing that service.”