IN late July, Santmyer Oil Company began evaluating a system designed to create a safer work area for drivers delivering gasoline and diesel fuel to convenience stores. The project involved deployment of the industry’s first petroleum trailer equipped with the new TALK system from Mac LTT.
The initial driver reaction has been positive. One of two drivers assigned to the petroleum trailer says that the TALK system turns night into day and lights up the entire work area when fuel deliveries are made during the night. TALK stands for Total Area Lighting Kit.
TALK is just one of the most recent examples of the safety and productivity systems that the Wooster, Ohio-based company has deployed in its fuel transport and distribution operations. Santmyer Oil is also testing a lifting axle on the TALK-equipped trailer. All tractors and trailers in the fleet have roll stability and are equipped with on-board cameras.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the safety of our transport and distribution operations,” says Zach Santmyer, President and CEO of Santmyer Oil Company. “With regard to the TALK system, we have wanted a better means of keeping people and traffic out of the work area during deliveries. Additionally, our drivers have been asking for better work area lighting.”
“We’re trying to be at the forefront of technology to better serve our customers. Customized enterprise software was specifically designed for the diverse range of our operation, which includes a transport fleet, bulk plants, and retail sites.”
“We have been running electronic driver logs in our tank truck fleet since 2007, because we wanted better compliance and efficiency. Each driver utilizes an Apple iPad and an online application to track delivery information and hours of service. The iPad can also be used to photograph delivery receipts, which are then transmitted to the main office for billing.”
Santmyer Oil began as a commissioned Gulf distributor in 1952 when Myron Santmyer opened a Gulf service station in Dalton, Ohio. In 1965, the company moved to a larger facility in Wooster.
Myron’s son, Terry Santmyer, bought the business in 1980, when it consisted of two tank wagon trucks and three employees. In 1982, Terry launched a fuel transport operation with a 1974 white cabover purchased for $2,500 and an 8,500-gallon Fruehauf gasoline trailer. “Today, the necessary equipment would cost upwards of 200 thousand dollars,” says Terry Santmyer, currently serving as Chairman of Santmyer Oil Company.
Today, Santmyer Oil has bulk storage facilities in four Ohio locations (Wooster, Dalton, Ashland, and Mt Vernon). Tank wagon trucks operate out of those facilities.
“Deliveries from the bulk plants typically range from 500 to 4,500 gallons,” Zach Santmyer says. “Deliveries are made within a 60 to 80 mile radius of each bulk plant.”
In 2002, Santmyer Oil established SOCI Petroleum, which is a tank truck carrier specializing in the transportation of refined petroleum products. The company delivers hundreds of millions of gallons of commercial fuel products a year. The company’s geographic diversification allows it to cover all of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, Kentucky, eastern Indiana, southern Michigan, and as far as South Carolina when needed.
“Our transport operation serves our needs as well as providing for-hire carriage,” Zach Santmyer says. “We serve some high-volume locations and our services include inventory management. Our transport fleet is spread across multiple satellite locations in Ohio.”
Santmyer Oil established its cardlock division in 2004, Santmyer Commercial Fueling Network (“SCFN”), which is comprised of unattended commercial fueling stations. SCFN offers complete commercial fuel product management to both individual and commercial accounts.
In addition, Santmyer Oil is a First Source distributor of Chevron lubricants and services home heating oil and commercial farm accounts. Recent additions to home and commercial services include propane and diesel exhaust fluid (“DEF”).
Two propane bobtails serve retail accounts in the Wooster and surrounding areas. In addition to delivering DEF to customers, Santmyer Oil can supply storage tanks, totes, and dispensing systems. The company also provides on demand maintenance.
The company operates its own Marathon branded convenience stores and supplies to Marathon branded and unbranded gas station dealers. The Santmyer Oil convenience stores operate under the Red Rover name.
Of the 200+ employees at Santmyer Oil, about 90 are truck drivers. Many of the drivers have been with the company well in excess of a decade, and most are in their 40s or 50s.
“We have built a good solid core of longtime drivers,” says Nate Santmyer, Santmyer Oil fuel and lubricants specialist. “We run a slip-seat operation to keep our transports running around the clock.”
When hiring truck drivers, Santmyer Oil looks for candidates with a commercial driver license (“CDL”), at least two years of truck driving experience, and a hazmat endorsement.
“We look for someone with a good attitude; someone who can represent our company well to our customers,” Nate Santmyer says. “After receiving an application and having a phone conversation with the applicant to make sure we are compatible, we run a background check and schedule the applicant for an interview and road test.
New hire training changed significantly in the last year. “After bringing DriveCam into our fleet, we then embraced the Smith System of advanced driver training,” Nate Santmyer says. “These two programs complement each other in helping drivers avoid behaviors that cause collisions. We have three in-house Smith System instructors.”
Also new for 2017, the company revamped its transport driver training program. A number of driver trainers were chosen and were brought to the corporate office for a two-day training class. During this class, Santmyer Oil rolled out a new trainee workbook. This workbook gives trainers tools, training requirements, and written tests to evaluate the trainee’s progress. This new program was designed to empower trainers and give new-hire drivers a better understanding of the petroleum industry.
Drivers also have ongoing monthly training. Some of this is required training, and the company also looks at industry trends to tailor training to current needs.
Help in building a better training program came from the company’s insurance provider. “We have worked closely with our insurance company to make safety a priority,” Joe Raghanti, Safety and Compliance Manager, says. “Many companies overlook this important resource. However, it is in the insurance company’s best interest to guide their clients. Many insurance companies have training programs, videos, safety professionals, and other resources that are available for clients to use.” Driver training is not limited to the classroom. New hires get three to four weeks of on-the-job training with the trucks and trailers in the fleet.
In the transport operation, Santmyer Oil runs Mack Pinnacle tractors with 445-horsepower MP8 engines and 12-speed mDrive automated transmissions. In addition to roll stability, the tractors are specified with predictive cruise control and air disc brakes. For product handling, tractors have Blackmer pumps.
The company runs Chevron Delo XLE 10W30 Synblend oil in the engines. “We are targeting a change interval of 55,000 miles by the end of this year,” says Nate Santmyer. “That means we will be able to reach about two oil changes a year per tractor. That will be a major cost savings for our fleet.”
On the trailer side, the fleet runs 9,500-gallon tankers with four compartments and double bulkheads. Tank hardware includes Civacon APIs and overfill protection. Running gear includes Hendrickson Intraax air suspensions and Michelin tires.
The newest trailer addition from Mac LTT is shining a bright light on the Santmyer operation. The Total Area Lighting Kit (TALK) includes swing-out rails with embedded LEDs that light up the work area. LED illumination also comes from the brake interlock bar over the APIs and in a railing that prevents damage from loading arms at the fuel racks. Additional LED lighting around the rear head enhances visibility and safety during nighttime operations.
“With our skilled and experienced team using leading-edge technology, we believe Santmyer Oil is well positioned to grow with our customers in the coming years,” says Zach Santmyer. “We have what it takes to meet their needs safely, efficiently, and competitively.” ♦