TCI – Creating its Own Success in Logistics

With a long history in trucking, warehousing and logistics – dating back to 1983 – TCI Trucking and Warehousing has built its success with a forward-thinking philosophy.   

Its mainstay is a leading-edge intermodal business, working with the Port of New Orleans on transporting and consolidating container loads. With more than 250,000 square-feet of warehouse and consolidation space, the company always looks for opportunities to improve and add value to the supply chain.

In 2010, for example, the company realized inefficiencies in plastic resin coming in from the Port of Houston. Resin was being shipped by rail to outlying areas. Creative thinking at TCI changed the logistics with a better distribution system. Today, more than 25,000 container loads of resin come into New Orleans, instead of Houston, and are taken to TCI’s warehouse for consolidation and packaging. Loads are then shipped to final destinations.

“While we started as an intermodal company with one driver and one truck, we’re now a logistics company that creates new opportunities,” said Jeff Louis, president of TCI. “That’s how we’ve grown our business. We have 125 trucks in operation – a combination of leased trucks with some owner-operators mixed in for added capacity.”

For its drayage division, which hauls containers from the Port of New Orleans, and tank logistics business, it relies on a leased fleet of Kenworth trucks, all T880 models, serviced by PacLease. The company also recently put into service a Kenworth T680 – a reward truck for TCI’s most senior driver.

“Our fleet plays a vital role in the success of our company,” says Louis. “Without safe, reliable trucks we would be out of business. Safety aspects of the Kenworths, along with their reliability and fuel efficiency, are essential to us in performing our day-to-day activities while servicing our customers.”

TCI began its relationship with Southland PacLease in 2002. “Our partnership with PacLease has been great,” he says. “Leasing allows us to retain capital and continue to grow our business. Plus, TCI’s business model has always been focused on what we do well, which is delivering freight to our customers. We are not in the truck repair or truck maintenance sector of the business. That’s another reason full-service leasing works so well for us. Southland PacLease performs those services for us and they do a great job.”

According to Louis, the decision to work with PacLease was based on its standing in the leasing community. “We decided to go with PacLease for several different reasons,” he says. “PacLease’s reputation in the industry is first class, they have a professional staff, and they’re known to have well-maintained trucks that are extremely reliable. It’s a perfect combination for our business; it’s been a very strategic partnership for us.”

The company’s Kenworth T880 daycabs are used for making multiple runs each day to the Port of New Orleans – running the loads back to TCI’s warehouse, or to regional customers. It also has T880s with 76-inch sleepers that take bulk chemicals in tanker trailers to the Midwest — primarily Chicago and the Memphis area. The T880s feature the PACCAR MX-13 engine, rated at 455 hp, and are driven through 10-speed manual transmissions. The aerodynamics and specs for the Kenworth are paying off. Louis says the Kenworths provide a 10% improvement in fuel economy over the other truck brands it’s running.

The lone Kenworth T680 is driven by Thad Smith, who, as TCI’s most senior driver, was given carte blanche in spec’ing his truck of choice.  Along with a different paint color from the company colors, Smith’s T680, with 52-inch sleeper (for occasional use), features Kenworth’s top-of the-line Diamond VIT interior package. It’s powered by the PACCAR MX-13, rated at 510 hp, and is driven through the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission. Not surprisingly, Smith gets the best fuel economy in the fleet.

Preventive maintenance schedules are carefully managed between TCI and Southland PacLease to maximize uptime. If the driver can’t make a fast turnaround for the PM, PacLease provides a loaner truck. “That keeps us running and eliminates any delays,” said Louis. “It’s often not needed, but it’s nice to know we’re taken care of with a substitute vehicle.”

While improved uptime is provided thanks to PacLease’s meticulous maintenance program, Louis says leasing Kenworths are also making a difference in helping keep driver turnover low. “We really try to look after our drivers,” Louis says. “Since we run both long haul and short haul, a driver who wants more home time can simply move into a daycab for local deliveries. We also think our equipment plays a part in our driver success. The Kenworth trucks absolutely help keep us well below the industry average in driver turnover.  They’re the preferred brand in our fleet,” he says. “New Orleans is a very competitive market for drivers in the container drayage industry. From a truck driver stand point, that truck is his office. They want to be comfortable and safe and that is definitely something the Kenworth truck provides to our drivers.”

Going forward, Louis says he plans to add more trucks with PacLease as business dictates. “We will always be creative and look for opportunities,” he said. “It’s been our recipe for success.”

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