When working with air freight, every minute counts. Even small delays can result in a missed flight, leaving cargo on the ground rather than on the move. For Mike O'Brien, president of Eagle Air Freight, properly maintained equipment helps mitigate the risk of a delay due to a breakdown or roadside inspection.
"You could have a factory in Germany shut down because their trucking company didn't pass a roadside inspection on the New Jersey Turnpike," O'Brien says. "Everything is time sensitive, and there are time cutoffs that have to be made. We have to make sure there aren't delays."
Eagle handles air freight for all major airlines at Boston's Logan International Airport. It also offers daily service from Boston to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. Leasing tractors from Penske Truck Leasing helps Eagle keep its commitments and deliver every load on time.
Before turning to leasing, Eagle had relied on owner operators (OOs). But when the financial crisis hit in the late-2000s, those OOs struggled. Around 2010, many OOs started going out of business because they couldn't get financing for new equipment. So Eagle Air Freight chose to lease from Penske and turn those independent drivers into company drivers.
At about the same time, equipment prices started to increase dramatically, nearly doubling from what they had been five years earlier. That further solidified O'Brien's decision to lease. He started with four tractors to gauge the value. Today, the company leases 10 tractors and three straight trucks. "We've plugged in the numbers, and we're better off using Penske than buying equipment ourselves," he says.
O'Brien prides himself on having the industry's best equipment. Leasing high-quality, properly operating equipment protects Eagle's reputation and improves safety. "We are charging a premium for a time-sensitive service," he says. "We have to be good."
Leasing also gives Eagle the ability to ramp up quickly when necessary. In addition, Penske provides a rental vehicle if a leased tractor breaks down, which further enhances Eagle's reliability and reputation. Penske Truck Leasing's coverage helped convince O'Brien to select Penske. "If something major has come up with a tractor, Penske has been able to swap it out within an hour," O'Brien says.
Eagle must also comply with hours-of-service regulations. Travel time between JFK airport and Boston can range from four to nine hours depending on traffic. Drivers can't waste time on a breakdown. If a driver is pulled over, O'Brien says he has found that DOT officers conducting an inspection know that Penske does a consistently good job of maintaining commercial vehicles. That helps drivers get on their way faster.
To help monitor drivers' hours, Eagle invests in electronic logging devices (ELDs). That keeps the company ahead of industry regulations and helps improve safety.
Overall, leasing provides value and allows Eagle Air Freight to keep its commitments to their customers. "You can do 100 shipments right but do one wrong and you have real issues," O'Brien says. "It is good to have a partner like Penske that understands our business."
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