What diversification looks like with growth in a smaller fleet can take many forms.
The Atlas Trucking flatbed fleet, based in Taylor, Mich., today operates with 130 power units after its founding in the late 1990s by the Eaton Steel manufacturer to serve the shipper’s transport needs. It’s moved well beyond just that in the two decades since then, with an affiliated brokerage acting as principal 3PL for Eaton and contracting with plenty of outside independents and fleets. The large majority of those 130 power units with Atlas Trucking, further, are leased owner-operators’ trucks, says Jeffrey Bronson, Senior Director of Transportation.
In part to help the fleet’s service needs, but also to serve an area with plenty of demand for truck maintenance but little in the way of supply (as Atlas knows from experience, Bronson says), it’s opened the new Atlas Fleet Services facility pictured up top for “anything from minor repairs” to major work, says Marc Scibilia, the fleet’s safety director and much more after being the second driver hired by the company decades back.
As says Scibilia, the new garage is the ultimate result of attempts to bring as much maintenance in-house as possible after maintenance safety scores in the CSA Safety Measurement System were high in the early days of that program. Increased routine inspections and maintenance as the fleet boosted their in-house program were “being done out of doors,” presenting issues in inclement weather, of course, among other problems of quality control.
With growth continuing over the years that followed, the company leased a small shop just to do monthly inspections and quick maintenance jobs, before the current facility next-door to that small shop became available and, now, newly open for business with roadside services available 24-7 five days a week, too.
As for diversification as a business writ large, says former trucker Scibilia, the interior support aspect for the Atlas fleet is great, but he and the rest of the team are definitely hopeful for the Fleet Services business to be a valuable revenue stream in its own right. “We’re trying to partner with as many other carriers and/or dealerships to help them grow as well. What we can offer is we’ll be open 24 hours a day five days a week, and 8-4 on Saturday, and we can take overflow from them as well as getting out to our own customers.”