Solid plan

Solid plan

For more than 20 years, Sun Coast Resources has been implementing a business plan based on providing customer service with a highly reliable fleet

For more than 20 years, Sun Coast Resources has been implementing a business plan based on providing customer service with a highly reliable fleet

“We can’t afford to miss a beat,” says Steve Boyd, senior managing director at Sun Coast Resources Inc. “We never close and we deliver several hundred fuel and lubricant loads every day. If one of our customers runs out of fuel, everything in their operation would come to a screeching halt.”

Headquartered in Houston , Sun Coast Resources was founded in 1985 by Kathy Lehne, who serves as the company’s CEO. The multi-state wholesale distributor of petroleum fuels, lubricants, transportation, emergency response, fluid filtration and purification, generator fueling, and used oil recovery and disposal services serves approximately 6,000 customers in 16 states, and is adding locations to its service area on a regular basis.

“Our business model is based on providing reliable delivery service- on time, every time,” Boyd states. “ Sun Coast must have reliable, safe and well maintained transportation assets to meet demanding delivery schedules. We never compromise on the quality of our fleet and our fleet department stays on top of every aspect of our vehicle operations. If there is an issue, it’s handled immediately because we can’t afford downtime.”

Simple goal

The goal is quite simple, according to Boyd: keep Sun Coast ’s fleet rolling. “With this in mind,” he relates, “our purchasing and leasing decisions require acquiring the best equipment from a proven supplier who we can count on for above and beyond service. Supplier and dealer relationships are key ingredients in running a successful fuel and transportation company so we deal only with reputable companies that have a proven track record.”

Making that choice, Sun Coast uses the leasing services of Rush Truck Leasing, the PacLease franchise in Houston . “From the start,” Boyd says, “Kathy Lehne instituted a policy of using leased trucks so that the company could always concentrate on providing unparalleled customer service. We don’t have the time or resources to invest in a maintenance operation, and we prefer to avoid locking up working capital in equipment. Investing in the company is much more important than buying depreciating assets.”

Today, Sun Coast operates a fleet of about 150 leased Class 8 trucks, including Peterbilt Model 378 day cabs, Model 385s and Model 379s as well as Class 6 and 7 Peterbilt Model 335s, all supplied PacLease and Rush. Also in the operation are 15 bulk lube trucks, two box trucks, 10 box vans, and a number of pick-ups. Spec’ed with a variety of tanks and equipment to meet the needs of each customer, the Heil, Polar, Brenner and Stephens trailers in the Sun Coast fleet are capable of hauling 6,000 gallons of lubricants and from 4,500 to 8,600 gallons of diesel fuel or gasoline.

Head and shoulders

“Rush and PacLease work with us to choose the right specifications– such as longer wheelbases, power take-off driven pumps and weight saving items– to meet the exact needs of our customers,” Boyd states. “We also work with them to trade units every couple of years. We want our fleet to stand head and shoulders above the competition, so at the first sign of age our vehicles are replaced immediately.

“When we make an acquisition,” Boyd also points out, “we generally replace the existing fleet with new equipment. This makes a statement to existing customers and provides appeal to new prospects as well. If your fleet is inferior in any way, what type of image are you projecting about the products and services you are marketing? The answer is obvious.”

The Sun Coast fleet is also standardized. “We’ve chosen Peterbilt models because of their reliability, durability, style and efficiency,” Boyd says. “Standardization also optimizes our productivity and flexibility in terms of having drivers switch between rigs without experiencing operating issues. In addition, we believe that the Peterbilts help us attract and retain the best drivers. Driver retention is critical for the success of our operation, and a well-maintained fleet of vehicles they find favorable is at the core of it all.”

Safety is also a main concern at Sun Coast , Boyd adds, where all 300 of the company’s drivers receive rigorous background and health checks. In addition, drivers must complete focused training on DOT regulations and HAZWOPER requirements for handling hazardous materials.

Close proximity

Rush Truck Leasing and PacLease provide all maintenance and repair services to Sun Coast , including preventive maintenance and tires. Running only on new tires, the fleet’s trucks and tractors are equipped with Bridgestone radials by Rush. For trailers, the carrier negotiates pricing and response services with independent dealers located in close proximity to its facility.

“Our dealer and supplier relationships are a good marriage for us because we are looking for hassle free operations,” Boyd states. “ Sun Coast specializes in the wholesale distribution of fuel, lubricants and transportation services so our equipment must perform flawlessly at all times. That’s why we let others who specialize in supplying vehicles and maintaining fleets do what they do best, which is keep us running in tip-top shape.

“This provides all sorts of benefits to our company,” Boyd concludes, “not the least of which are reduced downtime and cost savings, and the ability to rely on the fleet. Without it, we wouldn’t be in business.”

Number one

In 1985, with $2,000 and a business plan that promised customers consistent on-time deliveries of petroleum products, Kathy Lehne, founder and CEO, started Houston-based Sun Coast Resources Inc. Today, with nearly $900 million in annual revenue, the petroleum wholesaler and distributor prides itself on being number one in the fuel and lubricant wholesale marketing business sector. The operation has also been named the ninth largest privately held company in Houston by the Houston Chronicle, and one of the top 100 fastest-growing inner city companies in America by Inc. magazine.

Sun Coast currently markets fuel, oil and lubricants in 16 states, including Alabama , Arkansas , Florida , Georgia , Kansas , Louisiana , Mississippi , Missouri , New Mexico , North Carolina , Oklahoma , South Carolina , Tennessee , Virginia , West Virginia and Texas . The company is also expanding into Colorado , Connecticut , Delaware , Illinois , Indiana , Kentucky , Maine , Maryland , Massachusetts , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New York , Rhode Island , Utah and Wyoming .

Its main clients are primarily in the commercial and industrial sector, including marine, utility, mining, transportation, construction, railroads, manufacturing, food service, airline, sports complex, government, schools, concrete, drilling rig, retail and communication business segments.

Sun Coast is also a Chevron Signature Class lubricants distributor, a distinction reserved for a select group of marketers. Certified Lubrication Specialists on its staff work directly with Chevron to recommend the proper lubricants and maintenance strategies for any application, and perform lube surveys and oil analysis. The lubricant division has several large bulk facilities with over 300,000 square feet of warehousing and delivers orders from a single case to up to 7,000 gallons or more.

Other services provided by Sun Coast include an on-site fleet fueling program, fuel for generators and an automated card lock facility at its Houston headquarters. Sun Coast is also becoming a leading supplier of biodiesel for fleets and off-road equipment. “We’re celebrating our 22nd year supplying thousands of customers with high quality fuels, oil, chemical and lubricant products,” says Kathy Lehne. “The business plan we implemented when the company was started has paid off for us and our customers. We’re very proud of our accomplishments and fully intend to continue providing the quality service that Sun Coast was founded on and has built upon.”

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