Comfort also promotes safety, notes Amatuzio. “We chose Freightliner Cascadias with large sleepers so that drivers are well rested and comfortable,” he says. “We also add Thermo King TriPac Evolution APUs to the tractors and spec things like larger steps and yellow, more visible grab handles.”
On the road longer
Amatuzio also oversees maintenance for the SAV Express fleet, which today consists of managing programs at select dealers and vendors. “As we grow, a company shop may be in our future,” he says, “but with all relatively new tractors, outsourcing repairs to dealers, mostly covered by warranty, makes the most sense. We also use Travel Centers of America and Pilot Flying J facilities for routine maintenance. We find that having trucks serviced on the road keeps them on the road longer.”
Another part of the equipment and maintenance operation at SAV Express that takes place nationwide is its use of the Goodyear Total Solution program, which provides the fleet with a nationwide network for standardized products and services. The network of more than 2,300 tire and service locations includes both Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers and authorized Goodyear commercial tire dealers that also offer the 24/7 Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service program.
“We started with the Goodyear Total Solution program about two years ago,” Amatuzio relates. “It’s not only convenient, but one of the things we think is very beneficial to us is the nationwide retread program that ensures we’re only using the products and casings we want to have on our equipment. We now have standard tires instead of a mix of casings and treads, and we’re seeing the value of the program in lower tire costs.”
Measuring its return on investment in equipment and programs is an ongoing exercise at SAV Express, according to Maynard. “That’s critical if we’re going to remain profitable in light of industry changes and economic factors,” he says.
“The situation today, despite lower costs for things like fuel,” he adds, “involves low-margin linehaul rates, high costs for driver retention and recruitment, and Class 8 equipment values that are so low we can’t afford to liquidate them. Looking ahead, we expect capacity to tighten but new hours-of-service regulations will also have an impact on our operations.
“The key is to adjust as needed,” Maynard concludes. “That why we strive to have the right equipment and operations in place at all times, and to lock in customers that value our high quality service.”