Not every collection truck is the same. At the end of the day, evaluate what truck specs fit in with your operations.
By John Paglia III

Any company that chooses to have a long-term growth and sustainability strategy should factor in reliable/trustworthy equipment when growing the company. I strongly encourage developing a “spec” truck that you are comfortable with. Every person I speak with in the industry, whether they are public, private or municipality, seems to have a difference of opinion when it comes to the word “comfort” in how they like their trucks spec’d and arriving ready to serve their customer base. I am of firm belief that not every collection truck is the same. To the outsider looking in they may appear that way, but I will offer up a few tips from an owner/operator standpoint that I feel are must haves/advantages when purchasing equipment to grow your collection business.

Pay Now or Pay Later
We know things always do not go according to plan in the waste industry. We always cannot predict future asset orders in time with projected annual budgets. In a perfect world we have a “Florida Express Spec” established with all our vendors, whether its chassis or body manufacturer that has choices in the spec that would go above and beyond what a normal on-the-ground chassis would have. The way I see it is you can pay now or pay later. As an example, for a recent front load spec, we spec it to be a tandem with 52,000 rated rears versus 46,000 (even though the GVW will only be rated at 46k). We also purchase the highest level of engine and aftertreatment warranties available. We include extending packing cylinders with up to five-year warranties. These three options alone raise the cost of the truck upfront at least $20,000 to $30,000 in the beginning. What it allows though, is the ability to have peace of mind on the major components failing during the first half life of the truck. When they do fail, a prepaid repair due to a great warranty is always easier to swallow when not expecting a bill.

Cost Control
Front loaders, as we know, eat garbage all day long and carry it until they are full, repeating this process, on average, two to three times per day. The wear and tear on the rear end will not show itself in the beginning, but after five to six years, you may see leaf springs crack/bushings wear on a 46,000 lb. rated rear, while the 52,000 lb. rear will still be running strong. Time is money and none of us have time for downtime, especially when you must pay for it. One of my favorite benefits about the extended warranty is the cost control factor. Most of the warranties cover all replacement cost parts and labor. As an example, a turbo failing in year four, if you paid for an extended warranty at purchase, would have included parts and labor essentially at no charge to you at that time. At the rate we are going today, I do not want to try and predict parts cost and labor rates four years from now. They are high enough already. If you elected not to extend warranty, you could be looking at pain and aggravation and a bill upwards of $6,000 plus.

Adding Chrome
One of my favorite “specs” is the addition of Chrome/Aluminum. It has become standard procedure that any fleet truck at FEE is chromed out to the max outfit with LED lights/strobes/etc. If managed correctly with the operations, and you have well trained/appreciative staff, they too will drive these trucks in a safer manner thus lowering MT versus the cost of an abusive driver on a truck that looks and smells like a garbage truck.

The Long Run
They are basic specs; however, if you can, consider not overlooking them because at the end of the day, a truck spec is only as productive as the management team maintaining it and the drivers running the unit. There are many challenges to making these theories pan out and make sense financially in the long run. That is the fun part of the business. I will let you figure it out for yourself. | WA

John Paglia III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.

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