“Product quality and longevity, and a manufacturer’s dealer and support network, are among the key factors we consider when making purchasing and specification decisions for our fleet,” says John Di Vito, director of transportation for Sheetz’ Distribution Center (DC) and the Sheetz Brothers’ Kitchen (SBK). “We have very strong, ground floor partnerships with our suppliers to determine the best equipment that fits our needs.”
Sheetz, a convenience store chain, operates 373 locations across six states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. Today, the Sheetz operation includes a main distribution center in Claysburg, Pa., and a Roanoke, Va., cross-dock facility that distributes an assortment of dry, refrigerated and frozen products to all its stores three times each week. Through Sheetz Brothers’ Kitchen, the company produces and distributes made-to-order foods including salads, sandwiches and doughnuts to all stores seven days a week.
Job number one
“The Sheetz family has effectively built a business centered on the customer,” Di Vito states. “No one matters more to this company. Customer service is always job number one, so we’re always striving to meet the needs of our customers by successfully adapting to their changing needs.”
For Di Vito, that mission is focused on the company’s fleet of International ProStar tractors and a mix of 48- and 53-ft. Great Dane and Utility refrigerated trailers used by the DC operation. At SBK, the fleet includes 40 Sprinter vans, 13 International CF 500s, and three Dodge 4500 and three Ford F450 trucks.
“We replace our DC equipment on a seven-year cycle and the trucks used by the SBK operation are operated for three years,” Di Vito says. “Fielding a late-model fleet is part of our approach to providing high levels of customer service, so we rely on our suppliers heavily when it comes to specifying the right vehicles, systems and components.
“We deliver many fresh, refrigerated and frozen goods, so we have very specific refrigeration needs in our operation,” Di Vito continues. “For nearly 10 years, we have had a strong partnership and have worked very closely with Thermo King to specify refrigeration units that meet those needs efficiently, reliably and cost effectively.”
Thermo King, according to Di Vito, has outfitted the entire Sheetz fleet with refrigeration equipment that helps ensure the quality and product integrity the company desires. Included on the Great Dane and Utility three-zone trailers, for example, are Thermo King’s Spectrum SB multi-temperature refrigeration units. The units feature the manufacturer‘s Whisper Quiet operation capability, Smart Set controls for optimum temperature control and the Smart Reefer 2 Controller, which contributes to low fuel consumption.
For trucks used on the SBK side of the business, Sheetz specs Thermo King’s V-300 MAX TC units. “A few years ago, to make serving congested metropolitan areas easier for drivers, we decided to field smaller distribution vehicles for SBK,” Di Vito relates. “We worked with Thermo King of Pittsburgh, our local dealer, to determine the ideal solution. We found the V-300 MAX unit had the multi-temperature zone capability we need and would accommodate both vans and small trucks. The unit is lightweight and provides perfect temperature regulation for our needs. So far, we’ve been very happy with the unit’s performance and its ease of use.”
The V-300 MAX is comprised of a two-piece split unit designed for fresh, frozen and deep frozen applications. One compressor is powered by the vehicle’s engine, while a second is powered by an electric motor, making it possible to use electric stand-by to drive the unit, contributing to the unit’s environmental friendliness. In addition, the V-300 MAX has a slim profile, which provides for maximum load space and high airflow volume for effective temperature control.
At its core
Sheetz is still a family-owned business. Founded in Altoona, Pa., in 1952 by Bob Sheetz, who purchased one of his father’s five dairy stores, the company has grown from that small dairy and deli shop into one of the fastest growing convenience store chains in the world, one with more than 13,000 employees.
In reality, Sheetz is more than a convenience store that offers a wide range of food and health products, along with gasoline. “It is a place for people on the go to buy the goods they need to keep moving 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Di Vito says. “For more than a half century, this company’s mission has been to meet the needs of those customers. Of course, life is faster and busier today, so our customers expect us to be there when they need us most.
“For that reason,” Di Vito adds, “one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is our commitment to fielding a highly efficient and effective fleet, especially as we continue to pursue aggressive expansion efforts. Our partnerships with suppliers are one of the keys to that success. By providing us with the best equipment and service for our operation, they are serving us, as well, as we strive to serve our customers.”
Sheetz Tractor Specifications
Model: International ProStar
Engine: Cummins ISX, 450 HP
Clutch: Eaton Fuller
Transmission: Eaton Fuller
Driveshafts: Dana Spicer
Axles: Dana Spicer; 12,350-lb. steer, 40,000-lb. tandem drive
Suspension: air ride
Wheel Seals: Stemco
Wheels: Alcoa Dura-Bright
Tires: Goodyear; G395 steer, G372 drive
Air Compressor: Bendix
Air Dryer: Bendix
Air Cleaners: Fleetguard
Fan Clutch: Horton
Starter: Delco Remy
Alternator: Delco Remy
Seats: National, Air
Fuel Tanks: dual, 100-gal.
Sheetz Trailer Specifications
Models: Great Dane, Utility
Refrigeration Units: Thermo King
Wheels: Alcoa Dura-Bright
Lighting & Electrical: Grote LED