Apr 26, 2016 - 3 years ago
By Supply Post
Don Hummer has a simple philosophy. “I would never ask a driver to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.” And, for Hummer, founder and chairman of Oxford, Iowa - based Don Hummer Trucking, that includes putting his drivers behind the wheel of a truck he hasn’t personally driven and approved. His latest “stamp of approval” is on the Kenworth T680, after he drove one for 30 days.
With 215 company trucks and 85 independent contractors, the truckload carrier provides primarily dry van service for customers in a variety of industries, with a heavy focus on packaged foods and food ingredients, office furniture and building products. Hummer said he’s always been hands-on – leaving the office several times a year, on long-distance trips delivering freight. Staying in tune with drivers and customers keeps him grounded, he said. “Our customers don’t even know it’s me when I’m out there making deliveries. The purpose is to stay connected with the business and drive the same routes, with the same equipment as our drivers. I’m one of them.” Last July, Hummer and his son Chris, president of the company, visited with MHC Kenworth, which had just expanded its territory into Iowa. According to Chris, the Hummers liked what they saw in the T680 and decided to rent a truck from PacLease for one month, in order to gauge comfort and performance.
“I’ve driven a lot of trucks over my lifetime,” said Don, who started his career driving a Kenworth cabover for his father, before starting his own company in 1982. “The T680 is the most driver-friendly truck I’ve ever driven. I was astonished with the truck when I drove it for a month. And I still am. It is so quiet, and the interior and exterior fit-and-finish is just exceptional. When I was done driving the truck, it was the first time in my career where I wasn’t thinking to myself, ‘I wish this was there, or this was positioned here.’ This Kenworth was cut right.”
According to Chris, the company was so sold on the T680 that the company ordered 75 units with the 76-inch sleeper. The trucks, purchased through MHC Kenworth – Cedar Rapids, are powered with the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 hp, and use primarily Eaton Fuller Advantage Series 10- speed automated transmissions.
“That was the largest single order we’ve made in the last 10 years. We really felt good about how drivers would react,” Chris said. “And reaction was even better than we expected. When we brought in new trucks in the past, we always have had drivers who would say, ‘No thanks, I’m happy with the truck I’m in.’ This was the first time where every driver who was offered the new truck took the keys. Each driver wanted the T680 – not one wanted to stay with the truck they were driving.” With a solid base of quality drivers, and an experienced support staff in all departments including Don’s son Andrew managing Customer Service, Don Hummer Trucking, has doubled in size over the last five years. The company’s tagline is Delivering Value™, which Chris said “conveys that customers should expect the best overall value when partnering with Don Hummer Trucking. Safety is never compromised and the company consistently ranks at the top of our customers service expectations for truckload carriers.”
“We plan to continue with expansion where it makes sense, and an essential component to any growth is our ability to attract and retain quality professional truck drivers,” continued Chris. “We’re well below the industry average in driver turnover. We pay well and have always offered nice equipment. Running a premium truck like the Kenworth T680 shows drivers that we are serious about providing them with comfortable, safe and efficient equipment to do their job. There is no shortage of positive comments on the trucks from the quietness, to the layout in the sleeper with the rotating table, to all the room for storage. We want to be the carrier of choice for our customers and professional drivers, so it only makes sense to offer the best equipment available.”
Chris also said the Kenworth T680 is driving home bottom-line results. “Fuel economy is the best we’ve ever seen with brand new trucks, and compared to other aerodynamic trucks we’ve bought in years past, we’ve seen a 4 percent bump* with the T680. That’s big. We see it as a combination of the T680’s aerodynamics and the fuel efficiency of the PACCAR MX-13 engine.”
According Chris, reliability and a reduction in downtime is also critical to success for the company. “It’s another reason we went with the MX-13. We wanted an integrated drivetrain and wanted any issues with the truck or engine to be handled through a single source, eliminating the need to manage additional vendor/supplier relationships. And, that’s what we get with MHC Kenworth and its footprint (67 dealerships in 16 states). MHC is a growing entity, just like we are, and they share the same culture and drive to be the best. Our professional drivers and experienced staff deliver value for our customers and MHC and Kenworth deliver value for us.”