By Carmen K. Sisson | Randall-Reilly Publishing/Mack Trucks
MASCOT, Tenn. — Dan Moore is an innovator as well as a businessman, so when his glass transporting fleet — one of only a few such specialized haulers in the U.S. — ran into a problem, he wasted no time figuring out how to solve it. In his case, the answer was crystal clear: Change his mixed fleet to all Mack®. His decision to fill his yard with 140 Mack Pinnacles™, saved not only money but, possibly, his business.
Moore Freight Service was founded in 2000 in Mascot, Tennessee, near Knoxville, with little more than some cubicles, a fax machine and a solid business plan to serve the glass manufacturing industry. Initially the fleet was only one truck and two owner-operators. Before long, word of his experience in the glass industry spread, and soon he was buying more trucks and hiring more drivers.
Today, Moore Freight has 140 company drivers and 25 owner-operators. They specialize in transporting crated and uncrated flat glass, which ranges from 2.2 millimeters to an inch thick. It is a highly exacting business that suits Moore — and his Pinnacles — well. The biggest challenge is getting the shipments quickly and safely to the vendors, without breakage or workplace injuries.
Moore Freight faces a challenge
Moore required reliable equipment, a consistent drawback of operating the mixed equipment fleet. Glass is a seasonal business, peaking in spring and summer, when housing is in high demand. Natural disasters also create a spike in glass usage. When business is booming, trucks must be rolling, but with its aging mixed fleet, Moore Freight could barely keep trucks on the road.
“We had a particular brand of truck that kept breaking down, and it was costing us market share,” Moore says. “The president of that truck company sent a letter to our customers saying, ‘It’s not Mr. Moore’s fault. We’re going to put trucks at all his locations so when these trucks break down, they’ll have a loaner.’ That’s pretty bad.”
“That’s not exactly confidence inspiring,” agrees Jim Toussaint, Division Operations Manager of Worldwide Equipment, a Mack dealership and certified Mack Uptime Center in Knoxville. In 2010, when he met Moore, he found a frustrated businessman in need of a solution.
“He told me, ‘I don’t care about fuel economy. I don’t care what color they are. I don’t care what they look like. I need something that’s going to run, because if it doesn’t run, the rest of it doesn’t matter,’” Toussaint recalls.
Moore Freight finds an answer in Mack
Together, Moore and Toussaint created a new, all-Mack fleet, complete with GuardDog® Connect and extended coverage plans, which provide beyond-warranty coverage for the engine, exhaust system and air conditioning components.
“When you run that out over the period that covers, which is 60 months or 650,000 miles, it runs out to about 1.25 cents per mile, which is pretty inexpensive,” Toussaint says. “They’ve elected to trade maintenance dollars for capital dollars, and so far, that’s worked out pretty well for them.”
Moore’s current fleet averages 2.5 years old and consists of Mack Pinnacle 70-inch double bunk sleepers, running 13-liter MP®8 Super Econodyne 445 hp engines, with 1,860-lb.-ft. of torque and a 2.64 rear-end ratio. They are also outfitted with mDRIVE™ transmissions and air suspension.
Moore’s previous fleet’s fuel usage averaged 4.5 miles per gallon, but his Macks give more than 8 mpg. Maintenance costs plummeted also, from 30 cents per mile to 11-12 cents per mile.
“It’s a big change,” Moore says. “Our fuel bill was averaging $20 million per year, and Mack has cut that in half. Our maintenance costs have gone down by two-thirds.”
Improved safety features were another important factor when Moore decided to go with Mack.
“Glass is hazardous,” Moore says. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing.”
Every driver completes a one-week class at a glass plant, where they learn the intricacies of hauling glass, from how to load it, how to offload it and where to stand.
The mDRIVE helps with safety, especially in rough terrain; Moore Freight delivers to 48 states as well as Canada, and drivers see a wide range of road conditions.
“The mDRIVE takes out all the bad habits drivers have in shifting, when you’ve got downshifting going down a mountain or when you’re in inclement weather,” Moore says. “Mack automatically takes out most of that concern with all the innovations they have made. We’ve had drivers raised on 10-speeds and 13-speeds who said they would never drive an automatic, but they love the mDRIVE.”
Another advantage: Moore no longer worries about uptime. With GuardDog Connect, drivers are alerted to potential problems sometimes before they are even aware of them, and they are routed to the nearest dealer for repairs. Moore receives the alerts, too, making him aware of not only the problem, but also an estimate on the repair time.
“I see the notifications, and I know it’s being handled,” Moore says. “I don’t go deep into that. If we have any issue with the truck, they let us know when it gets (to the repair center), what the problem is, and when it’s going to get out so we can notify our customers. If it’s being handled in a timely fashion, I’m OK. With the Uptime program, Mack can get us in the door so we can get the problem fixed. They’re good at what they do.”
“The best downtime is no downtime,” Toussaint says. “The best warranty is no warranty. I think what’s worked best for him is they just run.”
Driver recruitment and retention
The cost savings has enabled Moore to improve his driver recruitment and retention rates by increasing their mileage reimbursement to 65 cents per mile, offering bigger bonuses and spec’ing tractors with premium seats and trim.
The drivers are worth it, Moore says. They average more than 500 miles per day and are the backbone of the company.
“Drivers take pride in their rig,” he says. “They like chrome and the image of driving a Mack. We believe they deserve the best. Without drivers, you don’t have a company. Without a good truck, you don’t have a company — or you get close to not having a company, like we did. Customers are also influenced by safe, reliable equipment. It speaks volumes about us that we operate top-of-the-line equipment.”
Moore seeks ways to improve the customer experience, talking with them about their needs and, when necessary, creating custom, patented products like his latest invention — a special system that allows racks to be preloaded with glass, driven into a custom 45-foot trailer and dropped off at a customer’s dock for offloading at their convenience.
The new system cuts down on the potential for driver injuries and gets them back on the road quicker. Normally, a driver would have to wait two to three hours for a shipment to be offloaded, and everyone at the plant would have to stop what they were doing to handle the shipment. Now, drivers can be in and out within 15 minutes.
Moore’s fabrication shop has built 200 racks and intends to build more as their customers continue to embrace the new concept. Using drive-ins instead of curtain side trailers saves money on the equipment purchase as well as the maintenance.
Because glass is such an expensive industry, every dollar saved helps. And Moore intends to stay in the business for a long time. Moore Freight has rapidly grown from a $100,000 annual revenue to more than $40 million, and they are regularly listed among Inc. Magazine’s annual list of the top 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the country.
“You’ve got to either be in glass or not in glass,” Moore says. “You’ve got to commit. With our equipment, you’re looking at a (tractor-trailer) unit that’s somewhere around $225,000, and not everybody is going to put that kind of equipment into the glass industry. All we do is glass.”
And all Moore plans to use in the future is Mack. He already has his eyes set on Mack’s newest model, the Mack Anthem™.
“I like the way it looks — very classy,” Moore says. “I think Mack has a good-looking product. It doesn’t look cheap. It has good eye appeal when it’s going down the road. We’re not going to buy anything else other than Mack. The ones we’ve been getting are great, but the Anthem tells me that Mack is looking outside the box to capture drivers’ imaginations.”
He also intends to continue his business relationship with Toussaint at Worldwide Equipment.
“Worldwide Equipment was the only company to stay with us and work with us as far as getting new equipment,” Moore says. “Loyalty speaks volumes. We will always go through Worldwide Equipment.”
He attributes his success to not only his equipment but also his drivers and staff.
“It’s a team effort,” Moore says. “We talk to our customers and see what we can do to improve their efficiency. We’re a free-thinking company. It takes a lot of individuals and a lot of pieces of the puzzle to make a successful company. My people are the best in the business, and I couldn’t be happier or prouder.”