May 9, 2010 - 9 years ago
By Supply Post
Daren Parker was a little unsure about how his driver would react. The co-owner of Parker Gas, along with his brother David and mother, Ethel, was about to ask his senior driver to get behind the wheel of a pink truck.
“You don’t see many trucks painted in pink, so some guys might have a problem getting excited to drive it – even though it was a brand new Kenworth T370,” recalled Parker.
But any negative thoughts quickly vanished, as the truck, promoting breast cancer awareness, became an instant hit in the community and a source of pride for Parker Gas.
The family-owned company, which was started by Daren’s father Earl in 1958, provides residential, commercial and agricultural accounts with propane through four regional branches, located in Newton Grove, Clinton, Fayetteville and Smithfield, N.C. It also runs a cylinder exchange business, branded as RapidXchange, which services more than 3,000 convenient, grocery and hardware stores throughout a five-state area.
“The ‘Fueling for Hope’ program, through the American Breast Cancer Foundation, is one of our ways of giving back to the community,” said Parker. “For every gallon of propane the truck pumps, we contribute a penny to the foundation, so this year with the T370 we’ll pump around 600,000 gallons, and we’ll write a check for $6,000.
“But what we see with the truck is what’s so gratifying. Every day our driver and program receive a compliment by customers, or a story related about someone with breast cancer. We even have a flyer about breast cancer that we hand out. We’re trying to do our part in raising awareness and money in fighting this horrible disease.”
The special Kenworth Breast Cancer T370, powered by a PACCAR PX-6 engine, rated at 300-hp, and driven through an Allison automatic, joins 18 other Kenworth trucks in the Parker fleet. For the company’s propane delivery fleet, Parker Gas has standardized on the T370 for new truck orders. Seven medium duty Kenworth trucks shoulder 2,800-gallon propane tanks. During the busy season in the winter, each Kenworth will make between 30 and 40 stops per day, plying their time among tight residential deliveries, commercial accounts and agricultural accounts.
“The tight turning radius of the Kenworths is great,” said Parker. “We have a lot of narrow streets and maneuverability is important to us. On the new T370s, we also like the visibility behind the cab, which really helps when backing the trucks.”
A long service life is also critical to Parker Gas. “We’ll hold on to these Kenworths for 10 to 15 years as propane trucks,” said Parker. “Our experience with the Kenworth product shows they can stand the test of time. Corrosion is not a problem, and door sag – something we’ve experienced with other brands – has not come into play.”
The trucks are serviced and maintained by Cooper Kenworth. “They’ve been great to work with, and their service department is top notch,” Parker said. “They keep our trucks in top shape; that’s critically important when on-time delivery is your livelihood.”
For its RapidXchange business, Parker Gas runs 11 Kenworth trucks, most of which are on a full-service lease from Cooper Kenworth, the local PacLease franchise. A Kenworth T800 tandem-axle tractor is used to haul up to 1,100 cylinders between five distributions points, while 10 Kenworth medium duty trucks provide the hub-and-spoke delivery of the canisters to retail stores.