With deliveries taking place in 48 states, United Furniture Industries needed a nationwide solution for its transportation needs. Doug Hanby, COO and former CFO for the company, wanted a provider that could provide comprehensive maintenance, replacement vehicles and short-term maintenance, which allows him to have the service levels he needs while allowing the business to focus on its strengths.
"Our core competency is building furniture and we want to get it delivered in the best way we possibly can," explained Hanby.
The Verona, Mississippi-based furniture manufacturer delivers to 1,400 Big Lots and many other customers' stores every week. Exact locations are based on the previous week's sales. "If you have the ability to flex up on your capacity, that is a great tool. We're going into the same areas every week but there is no rhyme or reason to it," stated Hanby.
Because of the geography United Furniture Industries covers, having nationwide maintenance makes things easier.
"It isn't our core competency to have a maintenance program on trucks. That is what Penske does," epmphasized Hanby. "What I like is that when we have a breakdown on the road they don't gouge you. It is good to have the knowledge that [Penske is] going to take care of it."
If a breakdown occurs on the road, Penske Truck Leasing either repairs it on-site or provides a replacement vehicle, which improves uptime. "If you're late you have upset customers," Hanby said, adding that one of the reasons the company runs its own fleet is so it has greater control over its deliveries.
Due to driver turnover rates, Hanby tries to keep additional drivers on staff and relies on short-term rentals when he has more drivers than trucks. "A driver is a scarce resource. The absolute worst thing I can have is a truck with no driver."
For example, if Hanby has 100 trucks, he tries to keep 106 drivers and will rent temporary trucks in order to keep the extra drivers busy until he has turnover. "I like to have flexibility. I'll pay just a little more for the temporary trucks, but the ability to keep the right number of trucks for the right number of drivers is important for us."
Penske Truck Leasing provides guidance during the spec'ing process, which Hanby appreciates. "I'm happy with the feedback I get when we're spec'ing trucks out. We have good equipment. We have very few problems with it."
To help retain drivers, Hanby specs trucks with driver comforts. "We've gone to all automatics and have TV hookups and APUs. We'll build as many creature comforts as you possibly can. It is all about drivers." Penske also recognizes this fact and adds value by providing safe, well-maintained equipment as well as offering driver safety training.
United Furniture Industries also opted for the safety package, which provides alerts to drivers if necessary. Hanby said some of his greatest concerns surround safety and accidents. "The one thing I can feel fairly comfortable with is I'm not having accidents [due to] improperly maintained equipment."
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