PacLease and Kenworth Hybrids Help Old World Craft Brewer Solve New World Transportation Issues

FORT COLLINS, Colo., April 29, 2013—When New Belgium Brewing employees looked to replace some trucks in the company’s local delivery fleet, they knew they wanted units that could mirror the quality and uniqueness of the beer they brew, while also reflecting the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

But they also needed trucks with much greater hauling capacity because of the sales growth on the company’s local delivery routes.

A group of New Belgium Brewing employees, including drivers and managers, considered several options and chose to lease three hybrid diesel-electric Kenworth T370s under full-service leasing contracts with MHC Truck Leasing, a PacLease franchise in Denver.

“We chose MHC Truck Leasing and PacLease because they offered us the hybrid trucks we wanted under a full-service lease, when other leasing companies couldn’t,” said Christine Biegert, New Belgium’s fleet manager.

“We produce quality award-winning craft beer that people know is unique and is made by an environmentally conscious brewer,” said Ben Hockett, warehouse and driver manager for the employee-owned company. “We needed to live up to that image. The last thing we wanted was to use trucks that couldn’t reduce our carbon footprint and couldn’t offer us greater productivity.”

In 2012, New Belgium Brewing produced 764,424 barrels or 23.6 million gallons of beer, a 75 percent increase in just the last six years. The company has grown into the American craft brewing industry’s third largest craft brewer. A number of the company’s lagers, ales and malts, including its flagship product Fat Tire Amber Ale, are widely distributed to 28 states and the District of Columbia, largely through third party carriers. But the company’s brewmasters and cellarmasters still make small batches of highly popular and specialized beers, which the company’s own drivers distribute to stores, restaurants and bars in Northern Colorado.

To deliver beer locally in the Fort Collins area and Northern Colorado, New Belgium has a fleet of 150 cars, vans and trucks, including a number of electric-powered vehicles that it recently put into service. Biegert said the move toward using no- to low-emission vehicles is part of the company’s environmental commitment.

Towards the end of its last 5-year lease, local deliveries became more difficult to manage because of the lack of payload capacity with the delivery trucks, Hockett said. The company wanted to use a straight truck with more payload capacity, but still negotiate deliveries on tight and crowded alleyways, streets and parking lots. For hauling larger bulk loads, the company wanted a tractor. And for other routes the company wanted a smaller straight truck. They all needed to be hybrids to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Hockett said Doug Harris, leasing account manager with MHC Truck Leasing in Denver, worked closely with the company’s employee group, which developed a wish list based on operational needs, driver experiences and a desire to brand the trucks so they would be immediately recognizable in the community.

“He visited our operation, asked questions and got to know our company,” he added. “He helped us understand federal and state regulations and the limits of hybrid truck technology given the company’s operational needs.”

Harris then consulted with Kenworth and Eaton engineers to come up with a hybrid straight truck and a hybrid tractor to meet the company’s unique operational needs. The hybrid straight truck features a 10-bay Hackney beverage body to accommodate the larger loads. The hybrid tractor, coupled with a 28-foot trailer equipped with a liftgate, hauls bulk loads on pallets that go to larger stores. Both hybrid trucks have work stations, burlwood trim, premium seating and Kenworth NavPlus®, a PACCAR proprietary navigation and business technology system. A third hybrid Kenworth T370 with a 6-bay Hackney beverage body, and equipped similarly to the larger straight truck and tractor, will be delivered later this year.

“Our drivers are really impressed with the look and feel of the trucks,” Hockett said. “They’re happy with the torque and power these trucks offer. And we’re definitely getting better fuel economy than we would with comparably equipped diesel-powered trucks. Just like the unique quality beer we brew, our hybrid Kenworth trucks are crafted with care.”

Hockett said with a more productive hybrid diesel-electric truck that offers better fuel economy than a comparably equipped diesel-powered truck, New Belgium can lower its cost of operation, which is important to the company’s owners, its employees.

Biegert said she also appreciates the fact that New Belgium doesn’t have to worry about truck maintenance with a full-service lease. The local support New Belgium gets from MHC Truck Leasing in Denver helps the company keep its operation going and local customers stocked, she added.

“Because we’re dealing with leasing experts who have direct access to Kenworth engineers, we’re able to walk the talk when it comes to our environmental stewardship,” Biegert added.