May 8, 2011 - 8 years ago
By Supply Post
Mike Walker is a proud man. “Look at our maintenance facilities and you’ll walk away impressed,” he smiled. “See our Kenworth T660s on the road and you’ll want to come work for us.”
As president of Springfield, Mo.-based TCSI-Transland, Walker has been involved with the trucking industry since he graduated from college, working for his father who started the company back in 1982.
With its heritage born in intermodal deliveries between Springfield and Kansas City, the company quickly grew to 40 power units in eight years with revenues of $8 million. Later it would add long-haul, short-haul, flatbed, dedicated carriage, and logistics.
“I firmly believe our company is the classic example of the American Dream,” Walker said. “My dad started the company with three employees, one truck, and $10,000 in borrowed money. We were scared to death, but we had a vision and a strong work ethic. It’s humbling to see where we were, yet exciting to see where we’ve gone.”
Where they’ve gone is virtually straight up on a growth chart, highlighted by sales of $52 million in 2005.
Today, TCSI is growing again at a 15 percent growth clip, following a slowdown by the recession. “We pulled in our horns like everyone else, and revenue dropped accordingly,” said Walker, who took over for his dad, Glen, as president in 1996. “We emerged and are now poised for growth again. While we’re diversified in all modes of transportation, we see a return to our roots in intermodal as a big growth area for the company. With fuel prices sky-high we’re seeing intermodal taking more freight, and TCSI is poised to revisit and grow that mode.”
Handling the growth includes the operation of 70 Kenworth T660s with 72-inch AeroCab® sleepers, purchased through MHC Kenworth – Springfield, along with 40 more on order. The trucks feature Cummins ISX15 engines rated at 450 hp, and driven through 10-speed transmissions. The company runs a total of 155 tractors, 400 dry vans and 50 flatbed trailers. The fleet is projected to grow to 200 tractors within the next three years. The average length of haul is 550 miles with the bulk of pickups and deliveries being within a 1,000 mile radius of Springfield.
“We’re standardizing on the Kenworth T660 after running comparisons with another brand and engine,” said Walker. “We track eight different metrics on our tractors to determine our true costs of operation – all told we have 100 different line items we track for our company to ensure our productivity and efficiency is world class.
“With the T660, we were getting two-tenths of a mile per gallon better in fuel economy over the competitive, like-spec’d trucks we tested,” Walker continued. “And, overall, we found the cost of operation of the T660 was superior to that of its competitor. Next, factor in higher resale value and driver satisfaction and it was clear to us the choice was Kenworth.”
According to Walker, new engine technology has been a smooth transition. “No problems at all,” he said. “We think SCR is the way to go. It was proven in Europe and it is being proven here.
“And, the T660 is really preferred by our drivers,” he added. “They like the maneuverability of the truck and the ride. And they know our Kenworths are reliable – it takes a lot of stress out of driving when they know they don’t have to worry about breakdowns.”
While a comfortable, reliable ride is critical to TCSI-Transland drivers, Walker said the T660s are an excellent recruiting vehicle. “For the type of operation we have, our turnover is low compared to the industry average. When we do interview drivers, we ask how they heard about us. You wouldn’t believe the number of drivers who tell us they see our beautiful blue trucks and their high gloss image on the road and thought they’d like to drive for us. Top drivers want to drive top equipment.”