When it comes to “doing good” in a community, you’d be hard-pressed to outdo the accomplishments of Idaho Youth Ranch (IYR). Since its inception in 1953, IYR has helped more than 31,000 children overcome problems with abuse, neglect, family conflicts, mental illness, and drug/alcohol abuse. In 2015 alone, it served 2,292 Idaho children, ages 9 to 18.
And, it does this regardless of the ability of the child’s family to pay thanks to proceeds from a network of 29 thrift stores located throughout Idaho and donations from private donors. The IYR fleet of trucks, which includes 15 leased from PacLease through its local franchise, Kenworth Sales Co., pick up donations such as appliances, clothing and furniture from homes and businesses. The trucks deliver the donated items to distribution centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls where they’re sorted by quality and grade before being delivered to the stores.
Proceeds from the thrift stores help about 70 percent of the half-dozen programs Idaho Youth Ranch operates at three campuses located across the Gem State. From the Anchor House in Coeur d’Alene to Hays House in Boise, IYR provides exceptional services using evidence-based treatments. Its success rate means in more than four out of five instances children leave to lead happy, productive lives free of issues with crime and drugs and with healthy relationships.
The “Ranch” in Idaho Youth’s name comes from just that – a 260-acre horse ranch recently relocated to Middleton where the organization uses equine therapy along with functional family and skills-based therapies to help at-risk kids overcome their trauma.
“Since horses can pick up on human emotions and reflect them back, they tend to reflect the same issues and emotions these young people struggle with,” said Gregg Crow, IYR director of distribution. “The horses help troubled youth recognize those things in themselves that often get in the way of successfully moving past or letting go of their anger.”
Several years ago, IYR turned to PacLease through its local franchise, Trebar PacLease (which changed its name to Kenworth Sales Co. in 2012), to replace a hodge-podge of used trucks plagued by numerous mechanical issues and resulting bills. Trebar PacLease provided Class 6 Kenworth trucks, bringing smiles to the faces of Idaho Youth Ranch drivers. With the old trucks, IYR suffered from large repair bills, lost time and revenue, and high driver turnover.
“Every dollar we spent fixing broken trucks was a dollar that could have gone to a kid in need,” Crow said. “Every time a delivery was late, we missed sales goals. It was just killing us.”
The leasing package from PacLease turned the tides for the IYR as it immediately cut the non-profit organization’s maintenance and operating costs by more than 20 percent.
But as the leases for those original Kenworths neared the end of their terms, Crow had a new challenge for PacLease and Kenworth Sales Co. He needed to replace many of those trucks with new units that not only offered his drivers the comfortable work environments they had come to appreciate, but also helped them be more productive while saving the organization even more money.
“We use 88 percent of our money to fund programs,” Crow said. “With the ever-growing need for our services among at-risk kids in the state, it is crucial we always look for more ways to save costs.”
In response, Jamie Schaefer, PacLease manager at Kenworth Sales Co., spoke with Crow and his drivers to re-analyze their routes, as well as discuss driver amenities. He then conferred with Kenworth engineers and presented IYR with the following features for their new trucks:
- A lighter Kenworth T270 chassis, equipped with a more fuel-efficient PACCAR PX-7 engine that provides ample power to get the truck up steep hills in the high desert country of eastern Idaho. Like the T300s they replaced, the T270s are under 26,000 pounds GVW, so they don’t require a commercial driver’s license to operate. That makes it easier for the ranch to hire or recruit new drivers as older drivers retire or new stores open;
- An Allison 6-speed automatic transmission, which makes driving the truck easier and contributes to improved fuel economy;
- A 26-foot long van body, which provides two feet of additional hauling space allowing drivers to pick up more donations per trip;
- Kenworth Air Glide Suspension to offer a smoother ride to protect fragile donated items from breakage during trips to the warehouse and the stores;
- A premium Maxon GPTLR liftgate, which is a foot longer because it can tuck under the van body instead of folding against the back of the van. This allows drivers to unload the trucks directly into the distribution centers via the docks. The lift also remains level and lays completely flat against the ground making it easier for drivers to pick up heavy items and to move pallets on and off the truck when they visit the stores.
The nine new Kenworth T270s, which replaced older PacLease units, have made a difference as the new trucks are getting better fuel economy compared to the trucks they replaced, as well as a 2-mpg improvement from the days Idaho Youth owned and operated its trucks. The additional room in the van body allows drivers to load one extra pallet of donations per trip. The liftgate also helps them load and unload more quickly at the distribution centers and stores, saving them valuable time and reducing the strain on their backs and knees.
“The trucks, starting with the ones we leased several years ago, have meant more to us than just the efficiencies,” Crow said. “These trucks have made it possible for us to keep our drivers, who are our ambassadors when they go out into the community. We just recently had a driver retire after working for us for 15 years and I credit the Kenworth trucks and our full-service lease with PacLease for helping us to hang on to him and to our other drivers.”
Crow remembers what it was like before IYR got its first Kenworth trucks several years ago to replace the aging trucks: morale was low and the constant breakdowns and the conditions of the trucks frustrated drivers, many of whom Crow knew came close to quitting.
Harry “Sandy” Knowlton was one of them.
“When I first started working for the Idaho Youth Ranch, for the first six months I can remember driving those rattletraps,” Knowlton said referring to the old trucks in IYR’s fleet. “They were constantly breaking down. If we hadn’t gotten the Kenworths, I don’t know if I would have kept driving for Idaho Youth. We all wanted to drive the Kenworths, and that’s even more so with the new T270s. They’re very comfortable, have a nice turning radius and good visibility. And the placement of the mirrors is excellent.”
Knowlton said he particularly likes the fact that even though it has a smaller engine, the T270 can keep up with traffic even on hills. He also appreciates the productivity-enhancing features that make his job easier such as the liftgate and the longer van box.
“Having trucks that Sandy and our other drivers can rely upon to do their jobs efficiently and in comfort is so important,” Crow said. “If they look unhappy when they go out to pick up donations it shows in their faces and in their work. Full-service leasing from PacLease provides them with the tools they need to serve and represent our organization well.”
Crow said the benefits the IYR enjoys don’t just come from the trucks, they also come from the maintenance support PacLease and Kenworth Sales Co. provides for those trucks.
“With Kenworth Sales Co.’s new mobile service truck we have our trucks serviced on site at our convenience,” Crow said. “This is a big time saver and keeps us from shuttling trucks back and forth to be serviced. What’s more, any trucks that need roadside service can usually be back up and running quickly with the work completed by the mobile service truck. This saves us hours, if not days in some cases. Keeping our trucks running means we can pick up more donations, which results in increased sales at our thrift stores and more revenue to help fund our programs.”