When Liberty Tire Recycling made the decision to transition to full-service leasing, they partnered with PacLease in order to take advantage of the newest technology the trucking industry had to offer.
There is an age-old metaphor: “when the rubber meets the road.” It describes taking a concept and proving it out as a plausible product. For Liberty Tire Recycling, that metaphor also has true life meaning. By recycling more than 190 million tires annually, Liberty Tire reclaims approximately 3 billion pounds of rubber each year. Recycled rubber produced by Liberty Tire is used to create innovative, eco-friendly solutions, including landscaping and playground products that are sold at more than 15,000 retail locations across North America. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, the company maintains a network of processing plants and comprehensive door-to-door collection services across North America.
The company’s innovation has roots that date back to the 1950s. In 2000, after years of organic growth, acquisition, and building production plants, the company was founded as Liberty Tire Recycling. Today, the company is the market leader in tire recycling—collecting and recycling 50 percent of the nation’s scrap tires. Translated, that means annually transforming scrap tires into products that range from rubber mulch and rubberized asphalt to crumb rubber that creates a variety of products such as floor mats and vehicle mudguards.
Liberty Tire Recycling has 26 collection/remediation facilities and 29 production plants located throughout the U.S. It collects tires from more than 40,000 customers and operates the tire recycling industry’s largest fleet of service vehicles, running Class 7-8 trucks, many of which are leased from PacLease.
From Ownership to Leasing
According to Leigh Eastman, Liberty’s Senior Vice President of Support Services, the company converted from truck ownership into full-service leasing several years ago. “We didn’t want to worry about maintenance on our trucks, plus we knew we could rotate trucks out on a schedule and take advantage of the newest technology the trucking industry had to offer,” she said. “Plus, from a financial standpoint, leasing frees our capital so we can invest in our manufacturing facilities, tooling, and any acquisitions. We know what our costs will be upfront; we no longer have big swings in expenditures due to unforeseen breakdowns.”
Liberty Tire Recycling operates in nine regions, with regional vice presidents in charge of their own fleets. “We work under one umbrella, but each region determines which leasing company they work with,” explained Eastman. “They’ll ask for our corporate guidance, and also talk with other regions about what’s working and what’s not. PacLease is fast becoming our favored leasing company. Corporately, we’ve been very pleased with PacLease. The Peterbilt and Kenworth vehicles we lease from them are great, drivers love them, and PacLease provides fantastic service, led by our main contact, Gina Vecchioni (a PacLease National Account Sales Executive).”
The Midwest Region
One of the first sites to work with PacLease was in the Midwest, under the guidance of James Maust, who oversees the Minneapolis/St Paul processing facility. “We operate 20 of our own trucks at our facility and we have a similar number of independent contractors,” he said. “No one really thinks that Liberty Tire Recycling is also a trucking company, but we are. We have different components to our business. We will self-load tires in our route business segment, but also have over 400 48- and 53-foot trailers in our geographic area for a drop-and-hook service. When the trailer is full, we drop off an empty unit and bring back the loaded trailer. In addition to the drop-and-hook business, we have a roll-off cage service where we service customers with over 300 tire cages in 12- and 24-foot sizes we can drop off and pick up.”
According to Maust, the route side of the business uses Peterbilt Model 567s tandem-axle trucks with 32-foot vans, spec’d with waterproof floors and liners with ramps and lift gates for driver safety. “We have driver-helper teams who go from tire store to tire store picking up tires,” said Maust. “They’re able to collect between 600 to 800 passenger tires in a load, which weighs out to eight or nine tons. While the passenger and SUV tires weigh between 25 and 50 pounds, we also recycle commercial tires that can weigh in excess of 110 pounds. We’ll also collect mining tires with our Peterbilt 567 tractor and flatbed trailer—these tires are huge, weighing up to 12,000 pounds each.”
In the Midwest region, each facility works in a 300-mile radius and many of the PacLease tractors are the Peterbilt Model 579s equipped with 58-inch sleepers. “Some of our collection crews will stay out for two or three nights a week, others will use the sleepers in an emergency,” explained Maust. “Since we work in ‘snow and cold’ country, it’s nice to have a sleeper in case we have unexpected weather.”
The Peterbilts in Maust’s fleet are powered by Cummins 15-liter engines, rated at 500 hp with 1850 ft.-lbs. of torque, and driven through automated transmissions—a change from previous manual transmission specs.
Spec’d for the Job
Unlike past trucks the company has used, Maust said the PacLease units are spec’d precisely for the job at hand. “When we first started our relationship with PacLease, I worked with Allstate Leasing (the local PacLease franchise). Our salesman was part truck engineer and part salesman, so he really knew specs and took the time to understand our operation. As a truck driver myself and occasional relief driver—at the peak of COVID—I appreciated that expertise. We came up with a comfortable truck for our drivers—one that had safety features and specs making us more productive. One spec is a non-tilt 5th wheel, which gives us flexibility when hauling frameless end dumps vs. dry vans and walking floor trailers. We also queried our drivers, asking them what they’d like spec’d on the trucks. Their input was extremely valuable—and it gave them ‘ownership’ in the equipment they now drive. All of this helps with our driver retention, which was already very high. A few of our drivers have been with us since 1989.”
When it comes to maintenance, Maust said PacLease is responsive and easy to work with. “They’ll come to our facility and pick up the trucks needing service, then return them after the service is completed,” he said. “They save us a lot of time and keep our uptime high.”
A Vested Interest
Going forward, Eastman and Maust said as the company grows its recycling business, they’ll continue to rely on PacLease. “They’re a true work partner in all that we do,” said Maust. Added Eastman, “We’ve been really pleased with our working relationship with PacLease, and that’s been the word from all the regions. They have a vested interest in our operation, and it shows in all they do.” | WA