Daufeldt Celebrates 50 Years' Service In Petroleum, Chemical Distribution

May 1, 1998
IN 1948, Harvey Daufeldt bought a Muscatine, Iowa, transport company for $4,500. The deal included a 1940 Fruehauf 4,000-gallon petroleum trailer and

IN 1948, Harvey Daufeldt bought a Muscatine, Iowa, transport company for $4,500. The deal included a 1940 Fruehauf 4,000-gallon petroleum trailer and a 1944 White tractor.

Fifty years later, Daufeldt Transport is celebrating its golden anniversary with $1.5 million in sales and a fleet of 10 petroleum trailers, 11 chemical trailers, and 15 tractors.

The carrier distributes petroleum products, beverage and denatured alcohol, fertilizer, and liquid feed.

"Our plans for the future are to continue growing as we have in the past, truck-by-truck," says Jeff Daufeldt, Harvey's son. "We have to grow to stay in business." He now owns the company after the death of his father in 1992, and directs all aspects of the operations, including sales, customer relations, and fleet management.

The company's growth in trucks, tanks, and sales in the past 50 years was celebrated in March when the Daufeldts invited friends and business associates to an open house. The maintenance shop was turned into a balloon-filled barbecue dinner site, and the office overflowed with flowers of congratulations from customers and shippers. But it was a reconditioned 1953 White tractor and a 1941 Fruehauf trailer, symbols of the company's long-time transport business, that garnered all the attention.

Continuing to follow a philosophy of personal family service initiated by his father, Daufeldt notes that his mother, A Helen Daufeldt, coordinated the office from their home for many years. Today, she still answers early morning calls from customers. Jeff Daufeldt's sons, the third generation, are taking an active role. PJ specializes in the accounting and computer administration, and Adam works in the maintenance department.

"You call, we haul," Daufeldt says. "We keep in touch with our customers. I started driving when I was 16 and I still drive the trucks. I don't ask any of our employees to do what I can't do. We emphasize a commitment to service."

Quad City Location Daufeldt Transport is located in the Quad City area of eastern Iowa adjacent to Illinois. Muscatine's small town presence contributes to the company's reputation of standing for quality service, says Daufeldt. When loans were needed for capital investment, bankers provided the funding based on the senior Daufeldt's business experience and later on his son's.

All of this began when Daufeldt's father drove a 1935 half-ton Ford truck hauling chickens and eggs from Pleasant Prairie, Iowa, to Chicago, Illinois. During the coldest time of the winter, he arranged the chickens around the eggs to keep the produce from freezing. Later, he graduated to a 1938 Dodge tractor that pulled trailers filled with cattle and hogs.

World War II interrupted his trucking career and sent him to Iran where he drove a 1941 Sterling dump truck in an Iran-Russia road construction project. When the war ended, Harvey returned to Iowa, married Helen, and joined his brother-in-law in a trucking partnership in Durant. The company hauled livestock and seed corn, and was successful enough that by 1948 he had saved $4,500 to start his own business in Muscatine.

After purchasing the Fruehauf trailer and White tractor, he soon added a 5,300-gallon trailer that enabled him to pocket $22.47 per load for a 35-mile trip.

Company History Company history is alive today in the old rebuilt White tractor and 4,500-gallon, two-compartment Fruehauf trailer used for town parades and celebrations. The company found the old vehicles similar to Harvey's originals in the 1980s, purchased them, and brought them back to life. Not only do they add color and interest to the activities, they are replicas of the company's beginnings.

The company's 10 petroleum trailers are used to distribute petroleum products to about 50 customers at bulk plants and service stations in a 50-mile radius of the Rockford-Des Moines loading area. An underground tank on site at Daufeldt provides storage for 8,200 gallons of diesel. Since the business was established, the petroleum distribution portion has accounted for 65 percent. Every day, about 35 to 40 loads of gasoline are dispatched to various locations.

Chemical hauling was added specifically for Grain Processing Corp in Muscatine. Daufeldt was recruited by Grain even though the carrier had no chemical trailers at the time, but an agreement was reached and Daufeldt purchased the necessary equipment. Eleven MC307 and DOT407 non-insulated tanks are labeled with the Grain Processing Corp logo and are used to move alcohol from the plant to customers in a 550-mile radius of Muscatine."We do wh atever is necessary to meet the needs of our customers," says Daufeldt.

Until the mid-1950s, the company hauled pet food ingredients, but then expanded into fertilizer. That led to liquid feed in the late 1960s when Daufeldt purchased stainless steel non-code tanks. Today, liquid feed, fertilizer, and alcohol comprise about 35% of the business. Feed and fertilizer are transported in four tanks ranging in capacity from 5,000 to 6,000 gallons. Shipments are to customers within a 400-mile area that includes Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Petroleum Business While chemicals, feed, and fertilizer require some logistic coordination, the petroleum business demands attention to pricing and delivery in what is a constantly fluctuating market. To meet the demands, administrative procedures and driver coordination are handled in the new office constructed across the street from the former headquarters.

The 6,000-sq-ft office and maintenance shop building was opened in September 1997 to expand the company's facilities, including a wash bay and truck garages. The drivers' lounge contains a DTN Weather Network computer terminal that gives current weather forecasts. Drivers are dispatched via paging systems and cellular phones.

Jenifer Gosset, who joined the company while she was still in high school, serves as both office manager and dispatcher, contacting drivers via paging systems and cellular phones.

Drivers are an important component in the Daufeldt operation. Veteran drivers receive refresher training for hazardous materials, and new hires spend two weeks in training with another driver before they take over the wheel.

"Customers see my drivers as representatives of this company," Daufeldt says. "They are Daufeldt and they are very loyal."

Driver Program Recognizing the critical shortage of drivers, Daufeldt works hard at retention. Drivers are rewarded after 20 years of service with their choice of a diamond ring or a recliner. Twenty-five-year veterans are assigned a new tractor with a model of their choice.

To control costs, maintenance is done in-house, except for major overhauls. Greg Gosset and Adam Daufeldt are the two mechanics that keep the tractors and trailers on the road. Greasing is conducted every 2,500 miles, and oil and lube every 15,000 miles.

The company's 15 tractors are five years old or newer. Most are Kenworth conventionals with Cummins M11 engines, Fuller nine-speed overdrive transmissions, and Eaton drive tandems. On order is a 1999 Peterbilt conventional with a Cummins M11 engine.

A number of manufacturers have supplied the MC307 and DOT407 chemical tank trailers: Heil Trailer International, Polar Tank Trailer Inc, Nova Fabricating Inc, and Stainless Tank & Equipment Co. All have Blackmer-MTE four-inch pumps, Betts Industries Inc stainless steel valves, and Girard Equipment Inc venting.

Four non-code stainless steel tanks used for fertilizer and liquid feed range in capacity from 5,000 to 6,000 gallons. Three were built by Progress Inc and one insulated tank comes from Heil. One Progress tank has three compartments and the others are single compartment. They are used for farm deliveries of liquid feed. The Heil tank is used to haul liquid feed and liquid urea to farm supply dealers.

Petroleum is transported in aluminum MC306 and DOT406 trailers. The four-compartment trailers haul gasoline, diesel, and fuel-grade alcohol. The majority of the 9,500- and 9,700-gallon tanks were manufactured by Heil. A few are from Polar.

They are fitted with Betts and Emco Wheaton exterior valves, Emco Wheaton internal emergency valves, and Scully overfill protection systems. Daufeldt mounts four-inch Blackmer pumps on the trailers.

Today's equipment is far different from the 1940 Fruehauf trailer and 1944 White tractor that Harvey Daufeldt purchased in 1948, both in technology and size. But 50 years later, Harvey Daufeldt's philosophy of customer service remains in the operation directed byhis family.