If Dillon Varanay could go back in time, he would. Especially when setting up his trucking operation for CoVar Transportation, which began operation in 2014.
“I should have gone straight to leasing trucks from PacLease, instead of kick-starting our company with used trucks,” said Varanay, who co-founded CoVar Transportation and serves as vice president. “We learned a very painful lesson, one that made us go into the red instead of in the black. We ran numbers and we would have been ahead by $200,000 if we had leased. We were learning trucking on the fly.”
In partnership with his brother-in-law, Collin Cole, who serves as president (CoVar comes from the combination of their last names), Cole and Varanay formed the Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, company when Collin’s father, John, signed a distribution agreement to bring high quality fertilizer to the States. “We had the opportunity to be the distribution arm. And, with that, our company was born,” said Varanay.”We had an excellent product to distribute; we just needed trucks to move it from the ports to farm co-ops, and to commercial companies that would blend our fertilizer with their products. Our plan was to start with this business, then expand into other trucking opportunities.”
Varanay, who had a logistics background, needed trucks virtually “next day.”
“So used trucks seemed the logical play – it gave us three trucks to run in our operation, but it ended up giving us unreliable trucks. Within two weeks, we started having issues. We had trucks in the shop, plus had to have trucks towed. And, we were paying our drivers to sit, not making deliveries.”
It also didn’t sit well with new customers, who saw delays in receiving their fertilizer. Varanay said that after getting his original trucks fixed, “we made the bad decision to go out and buy more used trucks.
“It was bad money going in after good,” he said. “We ended up having to do two engine overhauls.”
Today, those heartburns are fading. Varanay said he researched leasing companies and found PacLease to be the right solution. “I just wish we had started out with PacLease,” he said. “It would have meant dependable deliveries, no headaches on maintenance, and just one check each month – not the multiple payments for service, repairs and rentals we were accustomed to.”
The company started with two Peterbilt Model 579s, powered by PACCAR’s MX-13 engines, leased through Rush PacLease in Tampa, Florida. The Peterbilts were put into service late 2016 and handle the company’s growing Florida business, which includes hauling general freight, such as water and paper in dry vans. Growth outside the East Coast (runs to Chicago and parts of Wisconsin have necessitated the move toward sleeper trucks). To accommodate that growth, the company is leasing five more Peterbilts – another Peterbilt 579 with a 72-inch sleeper from Rush, and four Peterbilt Model 389s with sleepers through Hunter Peterbilt PacLease in Pennsylvania. “We love the 579s, and we’re getting a 2 mpg boost in fuel economy over our owned trucks,” said Varanay. “But we’re also big fans of the traditional (big hood) look of the 389. It’s not as aerodynamic as the 579, but they really will showcase our company in a great light. Both models are great.
“As we can from an accounting/tax standpoint, we’re transitioning out of our owned fleet of trucks and into PacLease units,” Varanay explained. “We have seven left in ownership.”
According to Varanay, the new trucks coming in were custom spec’d though PacLease to include wet lines and PTOs to operate the end dump trailers. The tractors feature varying horsepower from 455 to 525, depending upon the routes they’ll run. “Beyond the right specs for our operation, PacLease also matched our corporate colors on the truck. We found that our first two units became moving advertisements for our company,” said Varanay. “Once those went into service, all of a sudden we were getting phone calls from drivers who saw our Peterbilts, and wanted to come work for us. That never happened with our old trucks. The Peterbilts are giving us the image we’re looking for – and drivers want to become part of our team.”
Through working with PacLease, Varanay said he’s learned about the PacLease safety net – the network of PacLease locations that stretch throughout North America. “We haven’t had any problems with our leased units, but recently had one of our owned trucks break down in South Carolina,” Varanay said. “I called PacLease and they came out with a rental truck and we were able to continue moving the load while our truck was towed to the shop. We ended up keeping that rental for a month.
“PacLease has helped in all aspects of our business,” concluded Varanay. “The quality of the trucks, coupled with the speed of their customer service is something else – they have a vested interest in our business and it shows.”