Keeping promises

Keeping promises

For Harold Levinson Associates, the right trucks are helping enhance customer service and improve operational productivity.

From its beginning in 1977––selling general merchandise and sundries from a Brooklyn, N. Y. apartment and delivering them from the trunk ofa car—to its much larger present-day operation that includes about 100 medium-duty trucks, Harold Levinson Associates (HLA) has never lost sight ofits promise to customers: You can count on us to be there for you!

“One of the most important things we do in that regard,”says Rino Mitacchione, fleet manager, “is focus on making our drivers as comfortable as possible. We operate in many areas where maneuvering our vehicles can be a challenge. Operating the right type of equipment gives drivers the confidence they need to handle the truck in any situation.

“For example,” Mitacchione explains further, “while we know that many conventional trucks have a turning radius as tight as a cab-over-engine model, the COE is more driver-friendly because the visibility drivers have boosts their confidence in tight turning and maneuvering situations.”

Those situations abound in many parts of HLA’s operating area, especially in New York City. The company’s fleet, which makes over 3,000 daily deliveries in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut,Massachusetts and Rhode Island, operates from distribution facilities at its Farmingdale, N. Y. headquarters, Albany, N. Y., Auburn, Mass. and Naugatuck, Conn.

Now numbering 98 trucks, the HLA fleet consists almostentirely of Mitsubishi Fuso models purchased through Syosset Trucks in Westbury, N. Y. Among the newest are FK260 models rated at 25,995 lbs. GVW and FE180 units rated at 17,995 lbs. GVW.

Safer and easier

Bodies on HLA’s trucks are supplied by Supreme Corp.,including 16-, 20- and 24-ft. aluminum sheet-and-post dry freight models. All of the bodies have roll-up rear doors and many are equipped with Maxon liftgates. “We also add a rear step bumper and some trucks have pull-out ramps as well,” Mitacchione notes. “Those items are added because we want to make it as safe and easy as possible for our drivers to make deliveries.”

Recently joining the HLA fleet are several refrigerated units. The reefers are designed with Supreme Kold King XL bodies with roll-uprear as well as side doors. Larger multi-zone models are equipped with Carrier Transicold Genesis R90 refrigeration units and Skinny Buns moveable bulkheads from PW Insulated Products. Smaller models have single-temp Carrier 40X refrigeration equipment.

“We’ve been operating Mitsubishi Fuso models since before I joined the company early in 1995,” Mitacchione says. “At that time we had 40 trucks, and as HLA has expanded its business, we’ve added quite a few vehicles to the fleet. Most of our trucks average between 15,000 and 30,000 miles year. In most cases, we keep them for seven years or about 200,000 miles. We did just trade in one vehicle that had operated on longer routes for 270,000 miles. We also still have one of our 1995 models. It ‘s used for some local deliveries and we’ve outfitted it with a snowplow for our Farmingdale facility.”

Not surprising

The longevity of the Mitsubishi Fuso trucks in HLA’s fleet is not surprising to Mitacchione. “The Mitsubishi Fuso’s durability is great,” he says. “These trucks can take a lot of punishment, and with the fleet running roughly one-and-a-half to two million miles per year, the real proof is in the lower costs we have over the long run.”

Mitacchione is also quick to credit the extended warranty coverage the company purchases on its trucks and its routine maintenance program with helping to keep costs down. All of the vehicles are serviced every 6,000 miles by dealers near HLA’s distribution facilities, including SyossetTrucks, Albany Mack, Massachusetts Motor Service and Southern Connecticut Freightliner. A centralized tire program is also in place for the HLA fleet.Through a local New York dealer, the trucks are fitted with Yokohama and Sumitomo tires. “We only run new tires,” Mitacchione explains. “Currently, we’re averaging up to 85,000 miles on original steer tread and close to 100,000 miles on drives.”

Chemistry

Mitacchione says that HLA’s close relationship with its equipment and maintenance suppliers continues to be extremely beneficial to the company. “We especially have a great rapport with Mitsubishi Fuso Truck ofAmerica,” he says. “The chemistry is there; we understand each other’s needs.”

As an example, Mitacchione relates how he brought to Mitsubishi Fuso’s attention a concern he had with the regeneration system on 2008 model year trucks. In particular, he felt that drivers could easily notnotice the flashing light indicating that manual regeneration of the diesel particulate filter was needed, a somewhat common occurrence on HLA’s city-based trucks. His suggestion was that a buzzer be added to alert the driver, and now all newer models are equipped with the audible warning as well the flashing indicator light.

“This example,” Mitacchione says, “shows that if fleets discuss issues with their suppliers, and suppliers provide support over the long run even when there are problems, solutions will be found that benefit everyone.”

In some respects, that is exactly the same philosophy that has helped HLA grow from its humble beginning 32 years ago into one of the nation’s largest full-line convenience store distributors, providing over 18,000 products and generating annual sales revenue of more than $1billion. 

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