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DURASTAR: SERVE AND DELIVER

Posted on: January 17th, 2019 by admin No Comments

From the Bronx to Midtown, two men and a DuraStar® help quench the thirst of New York City.

BY: ROD O’CONNOR

PHOTOS BY: MEL MANDAHL

It’s a brisk late-autumn morning in New York City, and the traffic is stifling. We’re less than a mile from Manhattan Beer Distributors’ buzzing, five-acre South Bronx facility—where the 10 service bays on our bright-green DuraStar® delivery truck have been carefully loaded with 200 cases of imported and American beers and enough craft brews to satisfy the savviest of beer snobs—when we slam into a wall of gridlock. Five lanes of rush-hour congestion crawl across the Third Avenue Bridge. An estimated 58,000 commuters traverse the Harlem River here every day, and right now it feels like that many vehicles and more are fighting their way southbound on a one-way mission into Manhattan.

“This isn’t so bad,” says driver Raymond Adames, cracking a smile as he turns the volume up on the salsa station blasting from his radio. “Sometimes the traffic is so terrible, it takes us over an hour to get to our first delivery.”

Adames and his sidekick—driver-in-training Angel Felix—don’t have time to spare. It’s a few days before Thanksgiving, one of the beer industry’s top-selling holidays of the year, and thirsty New Yorkers are waiting to stock up on suds for the long weekend. Fighting traffic to get the product on the shelf is all in a day’s work for these inner-city warriors.

The largest single-market beer distributor in the U.S., Manhattan Beer supplies cases and kegs to bars, restaurants, hotels and retail locations across 17 counties, including all five New York City boroughs and the upstate suburbs. Founded in 1978 by entrepreneur Sandy Bergson, the company began as a specialty beer importer with a single 4,000-square-foot warehouse. Today the company sells more than 85 brands—mostly beer, but also wine and spirits—and boasts a total of 1.5 million square feet of warehousing space spread across its territories.

 

Nearly 300 trucks—more than 70% of which are Internationals—service 25,000 separate accounts across 6,000 square miles. The rigs that travel as far as the outer reaches of Long Island regularly clock 200 miles every day. The routes for city delivery trucks rarely exceed 15 miles, but they are demanding miles, to say the least, marked by constant stop-and-go traffic and a myriad of other hazards that come with the territory when you’re transporting precious golden-hued cargo into the heart of North America’s most densely populated urban center.

Adames and Felix have only 14 stops on their route sheet today, but they’ll have to hustle to hit them all before nightfall. As we bounce down Second Avenue through the gritty Upper East Side, our vehicle is immediately surrounded by a sea of yellow taxicabs that are taking turns darting recklessly in and out of our lane. From my perch high in the cab, the view out the DuraStar’s expansive front windshield looks like a real-life video game as Adames skillfully dodges bike messengers, pedestrians and never-ending construction zones.

“People will walk right in front of you,” he says. “You have to be alert all the time. This is how I drive every day: slow and steady.”

While the traffic is a constant grind, even tougher than that is the endless search for parking in this bustling metropolis. There are no loading docks at the pharmacies and small groceries that make up the majority of Manhattan Beer’s midtown stops, so delivery truck drivers must fight for highly coveted street parking like the rest of us. The biggest difference: You try parallel parking a 35-foot-long beast of a machine without scratching any bumpers.

We circle Third Avenue and eventually toss on the hazard lights in front of our first stop of the day, an outpost of a local specialty supermarket chain. Adames and Felix hop out of the cab, load up two hand trucks with cases of beer and hustle across the sidewalk to the store’s small side receiving entrance. The quicker they can get in and out, the less chance a traffic cop will slap them with a parking ticket or—the worst of all situations—tow the truck away.

According to Juan Corcino, Manhattan Beer’s fleet manager, run-ins with the law are inevitable when making city deliveries. The company factors a sizable amount into its annual budget for parking infringements. “We instruct our drivers not to block bike lanes and not to park near fire hydrants, but sometimes that’s just about impossible,” Corcino explains. “Everywhere you park you get a traffic guy or police officer coming after you.”

Maneuvering a truck around the streets of Manhattan is no walk in Central Park. Adames demonstrates the difficulty as he threads the needle turning onto an industrial stretch of 59th Street in the shadow of the double-decker Queensboro Bridge. Corcino says it’s precisely this ability to navigate the narrow and congested streets of midtown that gives the DuraStar an edge as an urban delivery truck.

“The International trucks have the best turning radius out there,” he says. “Our drivers are really happy to have them. We used to have problems with our other trucks, where they’d have to back up against traffic to make a turn. When you’re driving the streets of Manhattan, you don’t have much space to work with.”

The bulk of Manhattan Beer’s midtown customers don’t have much room for long-term storage either, so trucks have to make frequent stops to fill store inventories, in many cases with daily deliveries. To keep their customers happy, reliability is key. If one of these trucks breaks down, the party’s over for everybody.

“We guarantee next-day delivery. It’s my job to make sure that happens,” says Corcino. “International has been a reliable truck for us. We’ve been with them for 30 years and haven’t had any major issues.”

Even amid the constant horn blasts that accompany his work, Adames, 37, remains upbeat during his deliveries. A stocky guy with a buzz cut and an easy laugh, the 13-year veteran behind the wheel knows these congested streets better than anyone. Manhattan Beer utilizes sophisticated “dynamic routing” software to modify truck routes and load capacity based on changing traffic patterns and road closings owing to parades or other special events, but it’s skilled drivers like Adames who keep the deliveries running smoothly and efficiently.

Adames takes great pride in his work and the image Manhattan Beer presents to customers and the greater community. He greets store managers with a smile and waits patiently as each case of beer is scanned for inventory. Halfway through his shift, he pulls out a bottle of glass cleaner and sprays down the platter-size mirrors that serve as his extra sets of eyes out on the road. “Now I can see everything,” he says. “Visibility is very important when you have people crossing the street. It’s all about safety.”

“I keep my truck very clean. A lot of [my co-workers] will tell me, why don’t you just take it home with you?” he says with a laugh.

There’s a reason Adames is entrusted to operate this green machine. The regenerative braking technology on the hybrid-electric is ideal for the never-ending stops and starts of inner-city driving, which require the skills of a careful and competent driver. Plus, he’s the ideal employee to steward the truck that is the flagship in Manhattan Beer’s alternative-fuel fleet, which also includes a high percentage powered by CNG (compressed natural gas).

“Along with the fuel savings, the hybrid presents a great message to the community. Plus, it’s so quiet you can barely hear it on the street,” says Corcino. “People always ask about the truck, and we tell them: We’re delivering beer, but we’re also delivering clean air.

Stadium 1

 

SUPERIOR DEALERSHIP SUPPORT

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 by admin No Comments
International Dealer Network keeps Cowan Systems’ ProStars® on the road.

COWAN SYSTEMS has long treaded its own path when it comes to servicing its vehicles. Unlike most carriers its size, Cowan Systems chooses to outsource the majority of the work for its 1,000-plus truck fleet.

For the Baltimore-based company, which provides customized transportation packages as well as logistics and intermodal services for regional and national shippers, the choice of a trucking partner comes down to two non-negotiable factors: the reliability of the OEM’s vehicles and the capability of its service network.

“For us, the service aspect is huge,” says Dennis Morgan, chief operating officer of Cowan Systems. And that’s an area where International, which currently represents more than 65% of the Cowan fleet, has an advantage other truck makers can’t touch.

Cowan recently took delivery of the latest version of International’s flagship Class 8 product, a pilot version of the International ProStar® with N13 engine. Based on the initial reaction from drivers, Morgan expects a smooth transition. “We feel this new vehicle is going to be a really good truck,” says Morgan. “We’re still testing it, but we think it will stack up very favorably against trucks from other OEMs when it comes to fuel economy.”

According to Cowan’s director of maintenance, Mike Sizemore, the truck’s excellent visibility (both on the open road and when maneuvering around tight loading docks) and overall cab comfort are the features that drivers rave about most. “Without a doubt, our drivers really like these trucks,” he says.

For Morgan, his trust in International’s service network gives him the confidence to try new products. “Having a network as rich as theirs is a big benefit to us,” he says. “They probably have twice the number of facilities than any of their competitors.”

Much of that confidence is a result of Cowan’s relationship with its local dealership, Maryland-based Beltway International, and its dealer principal, Jack Saum Jr. “We’ve worked together for so many years—we have total trust in him,” says Morgan. “They have nine facilities in Maryland, and we drive all throughout Maryland every single day. But if something happens when our trucks are out of state, they have the whole International network behind them.

“The International dealerships work together as a team, and that works incredibly well for us,” Morgan adds. “Their trucks have performed. But if we run into an issue with our equipment, the folks at Beltway stop what they’re doing and rectify the situation as fast as possible. That’s what it’s all about.”

Cowan’s enrollment in Navistar’s OnCommand program, a dedicated package of services offered only by Navistar, has helped streamline Cowan and Beltway’s repair process. The system provides one source for a fleet’s service programs, making diagnostics and repair more efficient. “I love how OnCommand has virtually eliminated communication issues between parts and service,” says Morgan. “The concept is tremendous. No other OEM has anything like it.”

Saum attributes the success of the longtime relationship with Cowan to the collaboration that exists among International dealers throughout North America. “The relationships that we dealers have with each other, that’s been the biggest asset we bring to the table,” he says. “Those relationships have brought productivity and efficiency to Cowan’s business. Plus, our footprint of dealers matches up well with their routes—especially in a lot of areas where other OEMs don’t have a presence.”

For Cowan Systems, a proven fuel-efficient truck, backed by the attentiveness of a trusted local dealer, keeps their drivers confident while on the road.

FOUR TOUGH MODELS ENGINEERED TO OUTWORK AND OUTLAST, HOUR AFTER DEMANDING HOUR

Posted on: January 10th, 2019 by admin No Comments

When we set out to build the next great International® severe-duty truck, we knew we had to start from the beginning. To look beyond what was needed, to deliver beyond what was expected.

From the ground up, the HX™ Series was designed and engineered to endure the most punishing of jobsites. Built to take on whatever challenges you could throw at it, and to look great while doing it.

Every consideration – from its huck-bolted frame and three-piece Metton hood, to the spacious DriverFirst™ inspired cab and exceptional power options – has been made, tested and proven to perform well past class-leading standards. Bringing unmatched uptime, durability and driver comfort to any work site.

Now our commitment to building the best severe-duty truck on the market has been recognized by equipment owners and end users as one of Equipment Today Contractor’s Top 50 products for 2016.

Air Disc Brake Training – June 26th

Posted on: June 11th, 2018 by admin No Comments

We will be hosting an Air Disc Brake Training on June 26th at 9:00am and 11:00am in Liverpool, NY.

This event is open to all customers, please call us and RSVP to reserve your spot!

See our flyer for more information:

EVENT FLYER

truck parts syracuse ny

Air disc pads

Truck Rotors Air Disc Brakes Parts

Truck rotors for air disc brakes

A26 in Action
ERL Intermodal

Posted on: March 27th, 2018 by admin No Comments

“Since bringing the A26-powered International LT and RH Series trucks into its fleet, ERL has experienced zero un-scheduled downtime”, according to General Manager Steve Sperbeck.


How Will Autonomous Trucks Shake Up Our Industry?

Posted on: January 30th, 2018 by admin No Comments

All over the world, there is a paradox occurring. Although GDPs are skyrocketing, unemployment rates are increasing as well. The cause for this unexpected outcome is automation. Since the beginning of time, machines have been used to do the work of humans as the technology became available. Since the turn of the century, this shift has been happening at a much more rapid rate than in the past, and it’s affecting all industries alike, including the trucking industry. Although the technology to manufacture self driving trucks is quickly becoming available, whether or not people are ready for this transition is a different story.

According to an article from truckingtruth.com, the approximate number of jobs potentially at risk is over 3 million, however, “The number of physical and mental tasks that the typical driver undertakes daily are generally things that an automated truck wouldn’t be doing for itself.” Truckingtruth.com is not the only source that claims that the world isn’t quite ready for automated trucks. Thegaurdian.com quoted Ray Rodriguez in saying “I don’t think a robot could do my job.” Many believe that this massive shift in the industry is still decades away. People simply might not be ready to comprehend an 18 wheeler driving down the highway at over 60 miles an hour without someone behind the wheel.

However, there is another side of the trucking automation debate that needs to be considered. Labor accounts for up to 75% of the cost of trucking transportation. Savings that large accompanied by the fact that robots don’t need to stop to eat and sleep are hard to ignore. According to TruckingTruth.com:

“Many trucking industry types appear to be going full-steam ahead on the idea of having self-driving vehicles playing a large role in the people- and goods-moving industries, with both successful and unsuccessful testing being done in major cities across the U.S. Last fall an autonomous truck traveled 120 miles on auto-pilot to deliver a truckload of beer, though it was all highway miles, with a driver riding along.”

These stats make it hard to believe that autonomous trucks are a thing of the future. Some believe that autonomous vehicles will cut down on the number of injuries and fatalities caused by accidents each year, however, one miscalculation in an autonomous vehicle’s code could result in catastrophe and the safety features like those built into all of Stadium International and Isuzu trucks that are designed to protect drivers, won’t protect those on the other end of a miscalculation.

It’s hard to take a stand with all of the hypotheticals that exist in the current situation, however, as the technology continues to develop, there will be big decisions to be made by almost everyone who has a role within the Trucking Industry. Until then, the engineers and mechanics at companies like Stadium International, Isuzu, and more continue to implement the newest and safest technologies in every truck they make in order to achieve the ultimate scenario that can improve efficiency and safety as long as men and women are behind the wheel.

How to Start Your Own Trucking Company

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by admin No Comments

Owning your own company, being your own boss, and working for yourself can be exciting and enlightening, however it can also be extremely stressful. Although you single-handedly have everything to win, you also have everything to lose should something go wrong. Before you dive into starting your own company, be prepared for more failures than wins, more hours worked than ever before, and more passion and exhilaration for your work than you’ve ever felt.

For the most part, starting your own trucking company is no different than if you wanted to open a restaurant, clothing store, or spa. It’s all about the money.

If you have a dream, a vision, confidence, and years of experience as an owner/ operator of a single truck, then you’re already halfway there to owning your own trucking company. Once you’re in the right mindset, it’s time to start taking action.

Financially, starting your own trucking company can be a burden. To lighten the load, make sure your own truck is paid off before investing in new trucks and equipment. Don’t forget that you also have to pay people to drive the and operate every piece of new equipment you buy, otherwise it’s money sunk. The start up costs of opening your own company will undoubtedly put you in debt. Don’t go into it already being in debt.

Before you even start researching your first additional truck to buy, open a savings account and start putting money away. According to alltrucking.com, as a business owner you’ll have unforeseen expenses that, as the owner, you’ll have to pay for out of pocket. As a business owner, you also need to make sure that your employees get paid, even if that means you don’t. As a new company, business is likely to be inconsistent, so you’ll want a financial base to rely on if business is slow for a period of time.

To sum up the topic of money and get to the inspirational part, just make sure you have a solid financial plan. According to alltrucking.com, you’ll want to account for expenses such as truck payments, a good amount for truck repairs and maintenance, business taxes, licenses and registrations which vary by state employee payments, insurance, and every other expense that comes up in the trucking industry. It’s also important to keep in mind that unlike working for a company, your paydays are every 30 – 45 days as opposed to every 7 – 14 days. That being said, going into this venture mentally prepared to be in the red for a while will make your life much easier when you are actually in the red.

Okay, now time for the exciting part, buying the equipment! Do thorough research. Don’t sacrifice quality for a good deal, you can’t go wrong with brands like Stadium InternationalIsuzu, or Stadium Idealease. And I cannot stress enough to make sure you have a warranty on every piece of equipment you buy. These are machines and machines break, you know that, you’ve worked in the industry long enough to know better than to risk it, especially now that it’s your own butt on the line.  

Start Own Trucking Business

You will also need to register and license all of your trucks and equipment with the state before you start conducting business. According to truckdrivingjobs.com each state has its own laws when it comes to transporting goods in-state and across state lines. Follow the law, even if you don’t like it. The last thing you need is to be fined. You’ve already accumulated enough debt with your startup costs.

It’s also extremely important to market yourself. You didn’t get into this because you thought it’d be fun. You did it because you knew you could be successful and so you need to let others know why you’ll be successful. You need to market yourself. Show, don’t tell what makes you different. The better you know this, the easier it will be to show others. While on the topic of marketing, don’t forget to include it as a startup cost (I know I said we were done talking about money, but I lied). In all seriousness, what good is a brand new, fully functioning company if no one knows it exists. I’ll say it one more time, market yourself and show, don’t tell.

Alltrucking.com also advises against setting your initial rates too low. A lower price point does not mean more customers. What is does mean is flaky customers, who might jump ship the moment your prices go up. Price yourself according to your worth.

All that being said, once you have prepared yourself mentally for the endeavor you’re about to take on, make sure that your finances are in line, your equipment and employees are up to snuff, and your marketing is on point. After that, almost everything else will take care of itself.

If you think you’re ready start looking for trucks!

Should You Get Your CDL?

Posted on: September 8th, 2017 by admin No Comments

There is a lot to be said for getting your CDL and being employed to drive an 18 wheeler or a similar sized vehicle. The amount of responsibility is more than many people can fathom, but being able to take to the open road makes it all worth it. Driving is serious business for anyone, but if you’re driving a CMV, then that responsibility is greatly exponentialized. Before you start your CDL classes, here are some things you need to take into consideration before deciding on this as a career.

According to truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com, “Those desiring a CDL must pass a General Knowledge test and a Skills test, the latter of which proves that the driver can demonstrate stopping, backing, making turns, driving on city and highway roads, and weaving a truck through a ‘serpentine’ course.”

Some of the most important things to consider when it comes to safely operating a CMV are:

 

 

What all of this means is that the best truck drivers are very aware of their surroundings and have amazing depth perception. They are good at realistically planning. If you are someone who says they are on their way somewhere when you haven’t even left the house yet, then this might not be the job for you. Lastly, if you pride yourself on making great time when you drive, then you might be better suited as an Uber or taxi driver than a truck driver. There is just too much at stake to risk speeding.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, just like a job in any other industry, you will have to pay your dues. As a truck driver, that means it will be difficult to land a nice local job from the get go, but if you’re someone who loves driving, freedom, and solitude, then after a few years you could work bankers hours and get to go home every night while earning an annual salary similar to someone who holds a bachelor’s degree, but without the student loans. Like any other career choice, it’s not a decision that can be made overnight, but as previously stated there are explicit skill sets and interests that make some people better cut out for the job than others. Interest and knowledge of working parts can also be extremely helpful for this career. To learn more about the vehicles you’d be driving, check out our other posts! Any and all research can help you decide if this is the right job for you.

How to Handle Truck Inspections

Posted on: August 1st, 2017 by admin No Comments

We are all in a hurry to get where we need to be, and that goes even more so for those who are transporting tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to a destination. We do what we can to make sure that we get to our destinations as quickly and safely as possible without any unnecessary delays, such as getting pulled over. So, we watch our speed, we follow road signs, and we take care of ourselves to make sure that we are well rested.

However, there is more we can do in order to avoid getting pulled over for those dreaded, time killing roadside inspections or speed up the process if an inspection is just ultimately unavoidable.

  1. Make sure your truck is well lit. Always. Having a tail light out on a tractor trailer is not something that you can tell an inspector you are going to get fixed this weekend. You don’t have that luxury. Before you take off, check your headlights, brake lights, and your blinkers. This is especially relevant if you live in a colder climate where salt is frequently used on the road to prevent ice build up, which can also damage electrical connections. However, travelling through Florida doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about electrical malfunctions. Moisture and electricity don’t exactly mix well either. Just save yourself the stress and time and check your lights before you leave and every so often while on the road.
  2. Keep it clean. A clean trailer doesn’t just make it easier to spot problems before they become detrimental to your truck, it also means you are less likely to get stopped for an inspection. This goes for both the external appearance of your truck as well as inside the cab. Many inspectors may stop you and take a peek at how your cab is kept. If it’s tidy and up to their standards they might just wave you off. Getting your truck washed every 45 to 60 days should be effective.
  3. Grin and bear it. Andy Blair, a 26 year DOT inspector, told fleetowner.com that many inspectors don’t have a quota for citations, but they have a quota for inspections. That being said, an inspector might pull you over, fully expecting you let you go on your way. However, if you have a lousy attitude, he won’t hesitate to write you up a citation. If you get pulled over for an inspection, play nice, especially if know for a fact that you have nothing to worry about.

Time is of the essence, but if and when you get stopped for an inspection, making the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible will save yourself and the inspector time and frustration.

Staying Cool in Summertime: The Truth Finally Comes Out

Posted on: June 29th, 2017 by admin No Comments

Does AC really use more fuel or does having the windows open (created wind resistance) burn more?

It’s summertime! Some of us wait all year for these sacred three months, while others feel as though they are literally burning in hell due to the heat. For those of you snow misers out there, I’m sure you’ve wondered what actually burns more fuel, running the AC or driving with the windows down.

The answer isn’t simple. Auto manufacturers claim that cranking up the AC doesn’t actually burn through as much gas as every body seems to think. However, the guys at Mythbusters tested these statements and discovered the opposite. When they filled two SUV’s up with 5 gallons of gas in each and drove at 45 mph on the same road, the SUV that ran the AC ran out of gas 15 miles before the one that drove with the windows down. This should come to no surprise. Running the AC uses power from the engine which depletes fuel in the tank faster. According the the Canadian Natural Resource Center, if you drive 9,000 miles annually, running the AC can cost you over $3,000 over ten years, now just imagine how these numbers would be adjusted to apply to your truck!

However, there is some good news! According to the United states Department of Energy, the more fuel efficient option depends a great deal on how fast you are driving. This is good news for many of you out there. When driving highway speeds, it’s more fuel efficient to run the AC as opposed to keeping the windows open since wind resistance is at its maximum on the highway.
There are obviously some other factors to take into consideration such as the specific size and weight of your truck, but for the most part, these stats will apply to any vehicle at scale.

All in all, the choice is yours, no one will blame you for prioritizing comfort over saving a few extra bucks for those long trips.

FROM OUR BLOG

DURASTAR: SERVE AND DELIVER

From the Bronx to Midtown, two men and a DuraStar® help quench the thirst of New York City. BY: ROD O’CONNOR PHOTOS BY: MEL MANDAHL It’s a brisk late-autumn morning in New York City, and the traffic is stifling. We’re less than a mile from Manhattan Beer Distributors’ buzzing, five-acre South Bronx facility—where the 10 […]

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