Ah, the milkman. He conjures memories of yesteryear and Ozzie and Harriet, when delivery trucks made their way around neighborhoods delivering milk in glass bottles. But just as the car replaced the horse, supermarkets and convenient stores replaced milkmen and home delivery.
So it was for Virgil Siedhoff, who began his milk hauling delivery business in 1954 with a Chevy panel truck. As he saw his local home deliveries tail off, another opportunity presented itself—expanding into the wholesale business.
Operating in the Union MO area about 45 miles west of St Louis, Siedhoff started making a name for himself through reliable and economical deliveries. His company, Siedhoff Distributing, grew and business propelled even further when he joined Prairie Farms Dairy in 1981. Joining the dairy allowed him to cover a 55-mile radius around Union, generating 12 daily milk routes, one daily ice cream run, as well as deliveries to supermarkets, schools, nursing homes, convenience stores, and restaurants. Today, that milk hauling business is still going strong as Siedhoff’s son, Virgil Jr, and nine other family members, operate the 64-employee company.
Through the years, the Siedhoff family expanded in other areas. In 1987, they developed a for-hire trucking business specializing in refrigerated transport. Today, they operate 32 Freightliner Columbia and Cascadia trucks and haul reefer trailers throughout the eastern two-thirds of the United States. In addition, they developed a maintenance facility to not only handle the maintenance needs of their own fleet, but also the needs of other area fleets. In 2005, the company unveiled a four-bay drive-through truck service center, and now, 60% of maintenance repairs are on non-Siedhoff vehicles.
It’s been a winning trifecta for the company as Siedhoff Distribution has not only survived the recession, but also blossomed. In 2009, total sales exceeded $12 million.
Part of its recipe for success and keeping costs down is operating a well-run fleet, which logs, on average, 3.8 million miles per year. To that extent, the company has revamped its tire program, which has paid large dividends to the company.
“We’re saving some significant dollars by working with Goodyear and Purcell Tire,” said Tim Koenigsfeld, director of maintenance for Siedhoff Distributing. “Our cost-per-mile is lower and our downtime has been reduced, since changing tire suppliers. It’s all good.”
According to Koenigsfeld, on the long-haul fleet, the company has standardized with low-profile Dunlop SP384s on the steers, and runs with retreaded Goodyear G372s on the drive, and retreaded Goodyear G314s on the trailer.
“On the steers, we’re now getting around a 30% jump in miles per 32nd over the steers we were running before,” said Koenigsfeld. “We’re projecting between 135,000 and 165,000 miles to removal.”
Koenigsfeld said the G372 drive tires, using Goodyear’s pre-cure method, are also providing more miles to removal. “We’re projecting 300,000-plus miles. After a steer tire runs out to 6/32nds, we’ll take it to Purcell and they’ll do one retread as a G372. After that life—where we’ll pull at 4/32nds, we’ll retread again with the G314 and it will spend its last life on the trailer. Two retreads over the casing life gives us a very low cpm. Plus the quality in the Goodyear process can’t be understated. We’ve seen a significant improvement in the retreading process, and that’s equated to more miles and more confidence.”
Prior to working with Goodyear, Koenigsfeld had no way to manage or track the company’s casings. “That left us wondering a bit and not confident because we didn’t have a history of the retread,” he said. “With Goodyear, they have their GTRACs system with bar codes and an online record of the casing. We know if and when a section repair has been made, when it was retreaded, and any other history. Right in front of me I have a complete history of that tire, and for us, knowledge is power in putting together a quality program.”
For its regional milk hauling fleet, the company uses a mix of Dunlop SP384s and Goodyear G150s on the steers. The G150 HSA is used in the fleet’s tougher regional and neighborhood runs as the tire features special compounding and sidewall protection to help ward off curb and scrubbing damage. On the drives, the company uses Goodyear G167 retreads.
“We’ve been very pleased with how the tires are running and the mileage we’ve been getting in our regional fleet,” said Koenigsfeld.
In both long-haul and regional operations, even wear and tire balance has been improved by going with Dunlop and Goodyear rubber. “Before switching our tire program, on some of our vehicles, we’d have some shaking in our steers and we weren’t always pleased with how the tires were wearing,” he said. “If you can’t get uniform wear, you can’t maximize your mileage. We’re ahead of the curve now.”
The coup de grace for Koenigsfeld had little to do with tires, but service. “We’re always looking to be better and improve our transportation department,” he said. “But the one wild card has been over-the-road breakdowns for our for-hire fleet. In the past, if there was a tire issue on the road, the driver would call me—and we run 24/7, so it could be in the middle of the night—then I’d call our tire supplier’s hot line. Often, the tires we received on the road didn’t match with our specs, and the length of time it took to get back up and running was inconsistent. What’s more, we were billed as we went and the price for a tire on the road could vary greatly from what we paid at home.”
When Purcell Tire told Koenigsfeld about fleetHQ and the emergency road-side service, it meant simplification, faster response times, and tire savings. “What that program brings to our operation can’t be underestimated,” he said. “It helped seal the deal to move our business to Goodyear and Purcell.”
Koenigsfeld is quick to relay stats. “Two hours, seven minutes. That’s been the average time it’s taken from the initial call to fleetHQ to our rig being back up and running. That’s phenomenal when you consider we run some long stretches between major towns. It’s head and shoulders above the service we were using, plus I can track on the Internet the status and progress of the call. I’m not in the dark anymore when it comes to a down vehicle.”
Through fleetHQ, Siedhoff Distributing gets just one bill each month from Purcell that documents any new tires/retreads, plus roadside expenses. The price Siedhoff pays for tires on the road is the same it pays locally through Purcell.
“We also have our tire specs in their system,” Koenigsfeld said, “so if there is a need for a replacement tire, they know to put on a SP384 low-profile steer tire on any wheel position. If they don’t have that, they’ll put on a Goodyear G399. When that vehicle comes back to our terminal, we’ll then take off that tire, put it in our steer tire bank for later, and replace the tire with the appropriate tread."