How Gray Trucking steps into the heavy-haul ring with confidence
Heavy hauls put trailers through punishing paces. A single sheet of paper, for example, might float like a butterfly, but massive paper rolls can sting like a bee, putting as much as 20,000 pounds in a small footprint area of a forklift truck wheel. To stand a fighting chance, a trailer has to pack a one-two punch of durability and productivity.
"Many paper mills won't load a trailer that is more than 10 years old; we've seen trailers break in half when loaded," said Bob Gray, president of Gray Trucking, a premier player in the paper delivery market, which specializes in same-day and guaranteed next-day expedited freight, as well as truckload and volume LTL shipments. Gray explained that he was initially reluctant to put 53-foot trailers into service, but after fielding a fleet of custom-built Great Dane trailers since 2001, he has been very pleased with the outcome. Gray Trucking's trailer service life is 15 years and Gray has never had a structural failure with a Great Dane trailer.
To meet its heavyweight demands, Gray Trucking worked with Northeast Great Dane in Hillsborough, New Jersey, to custom build trailers that are stronger thanks, in part, to 8-inch centers versus the typical 12-inch centers. Additionally, an extra-wide bottom rail stiffens the trailer to reduce trailer deflection when loading, and the composite sidewalls stand up to the loading and unloading of paper bales.
Around the 12- to 13-year mark in the trailer's service life, Gray Trucking conducts a thorough inspection, installs lift gates and sends the trailer into service for another five to six years, delivering chemicals, which are also hefty loads.
"Not all trailers are built the same. You can build a trailer to haul 50,000 pounds, which is great, but not if it's shot in five to seven years," Gray said. "Northeast Great Dane was genuinely interested in what my challenges were and they built us trailers that I'm still loving to this day."
Gray is also proud to buy Great Dane's American-made trailers.
"We work in a blue collar world - with my drivers, my customers - and I think there's a level of pride that goes with that," he explained. "Buying American is just the right thing to do."
Another benefit that has evolved from Gray's trailer selection is the opportunity to put quality equipment into the hands of its drivers to keep them productive. Like most trucking companies, Gray Trucking finds hiring safe, high-quality drivers challenging due to the industry's driver shortage, and equipment plays a large role in Gray's driver recruitment and retention strategy.
"Drivers look at the equipment that you're running when making their decisions," he said. "Drivers can basically drive wherever they want to today. They want to go somewhere that has equipment that will make their jobs easier and safer."
The operational benefits of a high-quality trailer range from reducing downtime to the seemingly simple feature of being able to close the trailer's doors after pulling out of the loading dock.
"Some trailers are so light that you pull out of a dock and you can't get the doors to square up," he explained. The driver has to drive the truck around the parking lot trying to twist the trailer so that he can get the doors to shut. That's with brand new equipment. But we don't have those issues with our new Great Dane trailers."
Gray has also found value in Great Dane's aftermarket services. The maintenance and warranty support the company receives make Gray Trucking more productive and give Gray the confidence to tackle the heaviest of tasks.
"I'm not afraid to spend money to save money," he continued. "It's all about keeping our cost per mile down. If I can get extended life out of my trailer, then that's great, but if my maintenance costs remain low - that's even better."