As one of the 11 largest chemical and plastics distributors in North America, Canada Colors and Chemicals’ (CCC) calling card has always been about three things: Service. Service. Service.
Service is so strongly ingrained in the corporate culture that Rick Companion, national manager of fleet operations and third party logistics for CCC, had a certain statistic on the top of his mind.
“We have a delivery rate of 99.5 percent,” said Companion, “and, we pride ourselves on that number. When a customer gives us an order and tells us they need the delivery the next day by a certain time, we deliver. It’s what differentiates us from the competition – we’re the FedEx of chemicals.”
According to Companion, CCC has more than 2,500 active products with eight distribution centers dotting Canada. “We’re a one-stop shop and our customers rely on us for all of their chemical and plastic needs. Our shipments are less-than-truckload (LTL) with a fleet of 21 Class 8 tractors, along with dry vans and bulk tankers. For loads we cannot handle, we will utilize carriers. But, we prefer to handle the loads ourselves to ensure on-time delivery.”
The company also utilizes intermodal, using the rail system to haul loaded containers between the west and east coasts.
The majority of their tractors are leased with PacLease.
“We started working with PacLease four years ago in a trial in Montreal,” recalled Companion. “We were having some issues – breakdowns and poor maintenance – with another leasing company, so we wanted to give PacLease a try. We did our due diligence by visiting the local PacLease facility and we saw how their trucks were being maintained. We also talked with their customers, who gave PacLease high marks.”
That first PacLease truck also happened to be the first Kenworth T680 ever sold or leased in Montreal. “And it performed beautifully,” said Companion. “The drivers really liked the quietness of the cab, the smooth ride and the visibility in front. We also saw a huge change in fuel economy over our other leased trucks. We were getting a 1.6 mpg improvement with the T680. That was a phenomenal change, which just adds revenue to our bottom line. We now have five T680s in service in Montreal and those fuel economy number improvements are still ringing true. Since the trucks average 55,000 miles (88,514 kilometers) a year, each T680 is reducing our annual fuel bill by more than $10,000.”
Today, province-wide, CCC operates mostly Kenworth T680 day cabs through PacLease, along with a Kenworth T880 with a 52-inch sleeper, which hauls a Super B-Train with chemicals up to the oil fields of Alberta. It also recently put into service a T680 with a 76-inch sleeper for twice-weekly runs from the Toronto area into Chicago.
A former driver himself for CCC, Companion said he knows the importance of a quality truck and spec’ing with drivers in mind. “When I took over in fleet operations we were really just running basic trucks. What we’ve done now is upgrade to give our drivers a higher level of comfort. The drivers all love the T680s – they’re far superior to other trucks we’ve run. And, when we go into the spec’ing process I gather our driver team and have them make a wish list of what they’d like to have included in the trucks. Then I have my own particular thoughts on spec’ing and go in and talk with PacLease, and they work with me as a team to come up with the right truck.”
Companion said that’s a far cry from others he’s dealt with when discussing leasing and specs.
“Other leasing companies don’t have the technical background or training on equipment like PacLease,” he said. “They’re salespeople versus consultants and when I’ve discussed spec’s with others, I often question if they know what I’m talking about. But, PacLease does -- it gives me a sense of security and confidence that we’re getting a truck customized the way we want and need it.”
CCC’s Kenworth T680s are spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 485 hp and feature Eaton UltraShift Plus transmissions. Since Canadian winters are cold, the trucks were spec’d with the “arctic” package (with added insulation) along with Espar fuel-fired heaters. “This keeps the cab toasty warm without idling. Since its LTL, there is a lot of unloading and daily meal breaks,” said Companion. “Drivers can then continue their routes – which are typically regional in nature – always warm and in a comfortable state. No one wants to re-enter a cab that’s freezing. We want our drivers to be as comfortable as possible and still fresh at the end of their work day.”
When maintenance and repairs are required, Companion said the local ownership of PacLease franchises makes a difference. “It really does,” he said. “I don’t have to wait for corporate authorization if there is something in question. PacLease makes quick decisions on the spot. Small issues don’t become big issues because everything is addressed now. Each PacLease location has a vested interest in our success. We’ve found less downtime and more time on the road with PacLease. And, that’s evident in our 99.5 percent on-time delivery rate.”