Jan 27, 2016 - 3 years ago
By Supply Post
In bulk hauling, tons are the name of the game. And for Walpole Inc., a bulk hauler with 240 company-owned tractors, getting more for less is paying dividends.
“We’re always interested in shaving weight to haul more payload, but need to temper that with performance and durability,” said Keith Walpole, whose grandfather started the south Florida-based company in 1952. “What we’ve seen with our Kenworth T880s and pre-production PACCAR MX-11 engines is very promising. We’re now standardizing on the T880, and the MX-11 certainly has the opportunity to be a large part of our operation.”
According to Walpole, his T880 52-inch sleeper trucks with the PACCAR MX-11 each save more than 1,300 pounds in weight compared to the previous truck and sleeper combination the company was running in the same application. To start, the PACCAR MX-11 engine is 400 pounds lighter than a 13-liter engine. Walpole also saves the following weight by specifying the 10-speed Eaton Fuller Advantage(TM) transmission (165 pounds), wide-base tires (504 pounds), plus aluminum fifth wheel and air tanks (251 pounds).
“We’re running five PACCAR MX-11 units down in Okeechobee, with occasional runs into Georgia and South Carolina,” said Walpole. “The engines are spec’d at 430 hp with 1,350/1,550 lb-ft of torque, and replace MX-13 engines with the same horsepower, but with 1,550/1,750 lb-ft of torque. From what our drivers tell us, they can’t tell a big difference in power performance. The units are working beautifully. Plus, we’re seeing a bump in fuel economy with the MX-11. So, it’s easy to see why we’re high on this engine – less weight and even better fuel economy.”
A fourth-generation company – Keith’s daughter, Rachel, son Bryan, and nephew Ryan are also involved in the business – Walpole began steady growth after deregulation in 1980. “We ventured into other states and expanded our ag-hauling with pneumatic and dry bulk tankers,” Walpole said. “Then, about 20 years ago, we opened a terminal in Birmingham to support our growth in that territory.”
Walpole works with several Kenworth dealers to support his operation, but main truck orders are made through Kenworth of Jacksonville.
Hauling agriculture feed has been a mainstay for Walpole, dating back to when his grandfather started the business. “He purchased a truck to handle the delivery of feed for a local feed co-op,” Walpole recalled. “A few years later, my dad took over the company and began to buy and sell feed to local dairies. We’ve always had a philosophy of not trying to be the biggest – we just wanted to be the best at what we do. And, do what we say at a fair price. Being a multi-generational owned company is pretty rare these days and we’re very proud of our heritage. Today we continue to service several of the original farms that my grandfather delivered to back in the early days. That’s a real sense of pride.”
For longer hauls, Walpole trucks put on about 140,000 miles a year, while regional trucks average between 110,000 and 120,000 miles. “We gross out in weight in our tankers and we’re still getting excellent fuel economy,” said Walpole. “Our running fuel economy (taking into account idling and operating the PTO while unloading) is coming in as high as 7.4 mpg – so our ‘driving’ fuel economy would be even higher.”
The company has long been a Kenworth customer, but with the T880, Kenworth has made “monumental changes that have turned heads throughout the company,” Walpole said. “The fit and finish, along with the ride and reduction in road noise is unbelievable,” he said. “And, our drivers are raving about the trucks. They really are happy behind the wheel and that’s important to us. The driver shortage isn’t going away.”
What’s more, Walpole said the trucks project the high-quality image the company is looking for. “The trucks promote our services, and they do help recruit drivers to our company. We’re very particular about our hires. We only want the best and those type of drivers tend to gravitate toward companies running the best equipment.”
Willie Jackson is Walpole’s most senior driver and has driven for the company for 39 years.
“It would be very hard to get me out of the T880,” said Willie Jackson, who is Walpole’s most senior driver with 39 years at the company. “I started when we only had three or four trucks in the fleet and have driven several different brands and models over the years. But, this is the truck for me right here – it rides smooth and is comfortable.”
Jackson also said a new feature in the T880 (also available in the T680), is a pre-trip inspection switch, which makes his job a whole lot easier. “All I do is flip the switch and my rig’s lights and blinkers, even brake lights, turn on. That way I can walk around and do my pre-trip inspection and see if all the lights are working.”
According to Jackson, the combination of a nice truck to drive, and family atmosphere at Walpole means a lot to him. “I don’t think you’ll find many owners as approachable as Keith – I can always go in and talk, as can all our drivers,” he said. “We have a tight knit bunch.”
The flagship Kenworth T880 Vocational Truck with the PACCAR MX-13 engine was selected as the 2015 ATD Truck of the Year by a panel of commercial trucking journalists and a professional driver. The T880 was ranked high for exceptional handling, power, torque and outstanding visibility from the driver’s seat