Equipment: Probing sticker shock
Every contractor wants to be at home as much as possible — make sure that the revenue lines up with that cost. Put together a good business plan: figure out [how much you can work], the kind of equipment you can afford, and the expected cost of maintenance and the insurance…
Prime’s Don Lacy
Prime purchases and operates new equipment. This equipment is what owner-operators want. We maintain a three-four-year trade cycle, and volume purchasing allows us to obtain equipment below normal market values. We market our “used” equipment direct to the buying public as opposed to trading them back to the original equipment manufacturer.
Older equipment obviously has higher maintenance costs, and our trucks are sold when many of the warranties are still in place. We do a lot of testing and are not reluctant to try something new. For instance, Prime was a market leader in onboard safety technology. Prime recently developed and manufactured deer guards that were lightweight and sell for a third of the price of other manufacturers.
Small fleet owner Tom Blake
I’m reading about natural gas trucks…. Everything I’m reading looks good, but we need fueling infrastructure to be in place before we can really switch to it. If you still get the same mileage per gallon [equivalent], to me that will be the way to go. One of the things is — we have to be willing to change, but by the same token, some of the stuff they’re coming out with they’re putting a big price tag on it and it costs so much more.
Blake made an analogy between the passenger auto market, where 40-50 mpg was no uncommon for smaller cars, and at highway speeds even in some of the “more comfy sedans,” he said. The challenge for truck makers, he went would be to come up “with the technology” that boosts fuel mileage without charging so much for it that it’s cost-prohibitive.
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