Safety and dependability are among the most desirable attributes for commercial trucks. Maybe even more so, when petroleum haulers are concerned. Extreme caution is required when hauling flammable material, while dependability is needed to keep fueling stations operating.
In Florida, DB Trucking ensures the tanks never go dry. Established in 1974 by its former owner, Paul De Natale, DB Trucking began as a two-truck lease operator, transporting petroleum products out of the Port Everglades seaport in Fort Lauderdale. Today, the company delivers nearly a billion gallons of fuel a year throughout the state for major branded distributors who supply and represent the ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, Sunoco, Citgo and 7-Eleven brands.
Dan Marando started with DB Trucking in 1985 as a mechanic and eventually became more involved in the day-to-day operations, ultimately purchasing the assets of the company in 1998. He continues a commitment to safe, efficient and economical service. He has also grown the company’s 15-truck fleet to a stable of 55 tractors and trailers rolling out of its Fort Lauderdale headquarters and Tampa terminal. DB Trucking has been associated with Kenworth since the beginning. Kenworth of South Florida is located within walking distance of its main office and maintenance yard. The company currently utilizes Kenworth T880s ranging from 2017 to 2020.
“In the early days, our corporate clients all had their own trucks,” Marando recalled. “We came into the industry as a common carrier, and Kenworth was excited to get their trucks in front of the major oil companies. It worked, too, because it wasn’t long before some of those companies switched their fleets over to Kenworth.”
Not only is dependability important, but according to Marando, the major oil companies want their products delivered with nice-looking equipment that furthers their reputation for clean, quality fuel. If you spot a sparkling white Kenworth T880 day cab and chrome tanker in Florida, it likely belongs to DB Trucking. Each T880 operates 24/7, and puts on around 180,000 miles per year.
“The petroleum industry provides one of those resilient commodities. We deal with large corporations and work with the major branded distributors, who supply and could need deliveries to as many as 500 gas stations,” Marando said.
For bulk haulers, like DB Trucking, tare weight is a critical factor in the payload formula. DB Trucking keeps the tare weight on its T880s around 12,500 pounds. The company specs its T880 day cabs (used mostly for hauls within 55 miles) with super singles and aluminum hubs. The choice of the 10.8-liter PACCAR MX-11 engine – rated at 415 hp and 1,550 lb-ft of torque – provides 400 pounds of weight savings compared to a 13-liter engine, and maximizes payload capacity without sacrificing power and performance.
“The PACCAR MX-11 engine has done a really good job for us, and Kenworth of South Florida and PACCAR take care of the product if we have any questions,” Marando said. “We don’t run our engines full-tilt. We have them dialed back to around 400 horsepower. I’m a firm believer that a conservative approach creates longevity and less wear and tear on the engines. They’re also geared properly so that they’re not over-run.” DB Trucking pairs the PACCAR MX-11 engines with 10-speed automated transmissions.
DB Trucking’s resourcefulness, forward thinking and commitment to safety play a large part in the company’s culture. It’s been named as ExxonMobil Global “Hauler of the Year,” representing best in class for North America, for four years.
That commitment to quality and service filters down to all its employees. “We must not forget the importance of our professional drivers and their families,” Marando stressed. “We constantly furnish our employees with an open line of communication, positive atmosphere and safe working environment.”
When talking about equipment, Marando was quick to point out driver appeal. “When you’re talking about driver comfort, you want them to be relaxed and in good equipment,” he said. “All of that is the conduit that gets us from Point A to Point B. Everything we do is adapted for driver comfort and safety. The Kenworth T880 offers a lot of room within the cab and everything is very ergonomic. Nowadays, vocational trucks like the T880, are great riding and designed to be much more lightweight without sacrificing durability.”
With company growth projected at 10 to 15 percent annually, DB Trucking buys up to a dozen Kenworth T880s each year. New models allow its fleet to take advantage of the latest technology available. In its most recent order, DB Trucking spec’d its trucks with the Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) adding highway departure braking, Adaptive Cruise with Braking (ACB), enhanced collision mitigation capabilities and audio and visual alerts,” Marando said.
If there is a fender-bender and damage is done to the hood, the Kenworth T880 makes serviceability simple and straightforward with its five-piece construction made of Metton, a lightweight, durable composite material with excellent impact resistance and finished surface. Fenders are bolted on to provide quick replacement.
“The T880 is a very component-focused kind of truck. In the past, if you had an issue with the hood that wasn’t easily repairable, you had to replace the entire hood which could be very costly,” Marando said. “We get into a lot of tight areas during deliveries at gas stations. The Kenworth T880’s design makes it much more affordable and quicker to fix the dings commonplace in our industry.”
One trait that has made DB Trucking a leader in the highly competitive petroleum marketplace is a strong foundation in making good decisions. Marando and his team are personally motivated to do a job often made challenging by changing market and demands. “I love the diversity of the job,” Marando said.
“The one thing that never changes is the dependability of our Kenworth trucks,” he added. “We’ve never needed to shop other brands and compare what one can do versus the other – Kenworth flat out makes the best day cab truck for the petroleum hauling industry,” Marando concluded.