Pride, Tradition, Dependability Guide Hahn Transportation Inc

Nov. 1, 1999
Looking at the tractors and trailers in the Hahn Transportation Inc fleet, it is clear that there is a great deal of pride in the operation. It is an

Looking at the tractors and trailers in the Hahn Transportation Inc fleet, it is clear that there is a great deal of pride in the operation. It is an image, and way of doing business, that has been cultivated for more than 65 years.

Tractors and trailers are kept as clean as is reasonably possible with frequent washings. Petroleum trailers are polished and buffed every two years until they gleam like new. Body damage is repaired promptly. Drivers are carefully selected and thoroughly trained.

"We think it's crucial in today's market to present the most professional image we can," says Barbara J Windsor, executive vice-president and chief operations officer of the New Market, Maryland-based carrier. "It's as important as providing dependable, safe transportation service to our customers.

"Our business philosophy was built by my grandfather (Jim Hahn), who established this company in 1933. He gave his personal guarantee that customers would receive outstanding service, and we still strive to uphold that assurance. We're proud of the heritage of this company, and we plan to keep it a family-owned business for many more years."

Part of the family heritage included being active in civic and trade association activities. Jim Hahn led the way by serving in leadership positions with various associations, including president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA). Years later, he was followed in that capacity by daughter Rebecca Hahn Windsor.

Barbara is a past chairman of the MMTA and currently serves on the boards of the American Trucking Associations and National Tank Truck Carriers. During the last Maryland state election, Barbara was a candidate in the primary for lieutenant governor. Although she grew up surrounded by the trucking business, Barbara didn't actually go to work there until 1991, after 20 years as a flight attendant and manager at Trans World Airlines. She returned because her parents-Robert and Rebecca Windsor-asked her if she was interested in taking over the business from them.

"I had reached a point where it was time for a change," Barbara Windsor says. "I'm glad this opportunity came along. This is an excellent company with great potential for the future, and I have a chance to be a part of that future."

Different Company The company Barbara returned to was far different from the one with which she had grown up. Among other things, it was larger and more diverse. The fleet now consists of 178 tractors and 289 trailers. Operations are dispersed among six terminals in Maryland and Virginia.

Operations are concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic, extending north into New York and south to South Carolina. Trips are short to medium haul, and most drivers are home at the end of a shift.

Milk gave Hahn Transportation its start and continues to play an important role. "We actually expanded milk operations in recent years with the purchase of Dayton Transport in Dayton, Virginia," says Robert Windsor, Hahn Transportation president. "We have 14 tanks in milk and cream service, and it accounts for 10% of our business. All milk hauling is done under the Dayton name."

Hahn Transportation is best known today as a transporter of construction materials and refined petroleum. Cargoes include gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, motor oil and lubricants, fly ash, asphalt, cement, limestone, and aluminum blocks and bricks.

Petroleum accounts for 50% of the loads, and dry bulk shipments are around 38%. The fleet added its first petroleum tank in the 1940s, and dry bulk equipment followed in the late 1960s. Besides petroleum transports and dry bulkers, the fleet includes dump trailers and flatbeds.

Growth Rate With its broad mix of cargoes, the company has been achieving close to 10% annual growth. "We're benefiting from increased road construction activity," says Rebecca Hahn Windsor, chairman and chief executive officer of Hahn Transportation. "We're getting a lot of calls for cement, and drivers are doing as many as four turns a day. We have one customer taking 14 to 18 loads a day.

"We saw a strong pick-up in the regional economy starting in mid 1998. Federal money for highway construction gave a big push. Activity has reached a point where we've had to turn down some new business in order to keep up with existing customers."

The robust economy has been accompanied by significant changes in the way business is done. "We're seeing longer term contracts," Barbara Windsor says. "Customers want fixed rates for three to five years. Even with all of the activity, rates remain very competitive. We are still pressured to lower rates.

"We have begun a closer analysis of rates, because we have to justify that we can afford to keep each customer. We have negotiated some increases with long-standing customers already, but the rate situation remains very competitive."

Contract Negotiation The negotiating process has changed. In the past, local terminal managers handled most of the business discussions with customers. Today, a majority of contracts are negotiated at the corporate level. The process begins with the transportation department and finishes with the finance or purchasing departments.

Another challenge is keeping up with the changes caused by the waves of consolidation that have swept through many of the industries served by Hahn Transportation. This is especially true in the carrier's core petroleum sector.

Some of the mergers have cost Hahn Transportation business, while other consolidations have brought new opportunities. Most importantly, the carrier is doing much more business today with independent petroleum marketers. "We're getting more loads from the independents than we've ever seen," Barbara Windsor says.

Mergers in the petroleum industry have brought a major consolidation in loading terminals in the Hahn Transportation operating area, and that is having a big impact on fleet scheduling. "The racks in our area have decreased from seven to four," she says. "One result is extended waiting times for our drivers."

Loading rack delays have become more of a problem because so many Hahn Transportation drivers are dedicated to specific customers. Despite the problems encountered today, the carrier will not scale back the use of dedicated drivers.

"That's just one of many things we do to provide extra value to our customers," Barbara Windsor says. "We're also adding newer and more efficient equipment for increased productivity. For instance, our newest dry bulkers can carry almost two tons more payload."

Quality Drivers Enhanced service starts with the drivers, though. Despite truck driver shortages throughout its operating area, Hahn Transportation remains very selective.

"We certainly could use more drivers, says Gary Kettell, Hahn Transportation safety director. "There is a shortage of qualified candidates. We get a lot of applications from people with less than a year of experience. We run a lot of advertisements in local newspapers, but we have the best luck with referrals from our own drivers."

Basic requirements for the dry bulk and flatbed operations call for a minimum age of 23 and a year's truck driving experience. Two years of experience are required for any driving positions that involve hazardous materials.

"We're looking for career-oriented drivers, and the best candidates are those who have about five years behind the wheel of the truck," Kettell says. "They have experience but usually aren't locked into a specific work pattern.

"Better than half of our drivers can handle more than one type of trailer. We need the flexibility to handle business fluctuations and keep everybody busy." Previous employers are contacted, and driving records are examined closely during the screening process. Applicants with serious driving violations are rejected immediately.

Training and Safety Training starts with a one-day orientation that includes written exams. Next comes up to three weeks of on-the-job training. Trainers fill out a daily evaluation of each new driver. New hires who will be hauling petroleum products also must be certified by the oil company loading racks. Hahn Transportation policy is to certify drivers at as many racks as possible.

A primary objective of the training program is to prevent accidents and ensure that customers receive the best possible service. The safety effort includes radar patrols to monitor speed, retraining as needed, and incentive awards. Monthly safety meetings are held on a weekday and are attended by 75% to 80% of the carrier's 196 drivers (176 fulltime and 20 part-time). Those who attend all of the safety meetings in a year receive a $50 bonus. The meetings last a half hour to an hour.

"I don't believe long meetings are beneficial," Kettell says. "During the safety meetings, we review the incident log for each terminal and address current issues." Further encouragement for safe performance comes from an award and incentive program. In addition to ATA safe driving awards, drivers can earn incentive bonuses that are paid at six-month intervals. Error-free paperwork and logbooks bring a $5 a month bonus. In total, bonuses can add well over $1,000 a year to a petroleum driver's income.

Newer Tractors Late model tractors and good maintenance also promote safety at Hahn Transportation. "We're shortening our cycle times for new tractors," says Wayne Lease, Hahn Transportation fleet manager. "We're working toward a five- to six-year cycle time, and we will be down to seven by January (2000). The biggest problem we face right now is that component-related delays have slowed deliveries of new equipment."

The newest additions to the fleet are Peterbilt 385 conventionals with day cabs. Driver comfort enhancements include high-back National Cush-N-Aire seats and air-ride cab and suspension. Driver visibility is aided by Moto-Mirror side mirrors. Driving activity is monitored by tachograph.

Caterpillar C12 engines power the tractors. The engines are rated at 380/410 horsepower and are achieving 7.2 miles per gallon on-highway. Drivetrain components include Meritor transmissions and drive axles.

Hahn Transportation has been specifying Ingersoll Rand air starters for many years. Lease says an air starter is one of the best components to put on a tractor. It saves weight by reducing the number of batteries that are needed, and it improves safety in petroleum operations by eliminating a potential source of sparks. To accommodate the needs of the air starter, tractors have a 60-gallon aluminum air tank.

Grease Jockey automatic chassis lube systems are being tested on a number of tractors, and Lease believes they will be most useful for tractors at satellite locations. Among other components are Bendix Tu-Flo 550 air compressors, Meritor System Saver 1200 air dryers, Jacobs engine brakes, and Fontaine 5000-series fifthwheels.

Roper and Blackmer pumps are used in the petroleum operation and have been installed on perhaps 20 tractors in the fleet. Tractors that regularly handle dry bulk loads have Drum D450 or D880 blowers. Power units that are in occasional dry bulk service have Schwitzer exhaust-driven blowers.

Lightweight Meritor brake drums are preferred because they don't shatter, according to Lease. The tractors also have Alcoa aluminum wheels, Bridgestone steel-belted radial tires, and anti-spray mudflaps.

Trailer Fleet Numbering 128, dry bulkers are the largest category in the trailer fleet. The newest ones from Heil Trailer International have a 1,040-cubic-foot capacity and can carry 26 1/2 to 27 tons of product. They can be unloaded in about 25 minutes.

The aluminum Super Jet dry bulkers are specified with SureSeal tees, butterfly valves, and aerators; Knappco domelids; Truck-Lite LED lights; and Hendrickson Intraax air suspensions.

Next in overall number are petroleum transports, and the newest Heil DOT406 trailers in the fleet have a 9,200-gallon capacity. They are outfitted with Emco Wheaton bottom-loading adapters, Scully overfill protection, Betts internal emergency valves, and Knappco domelids. Product is unloaded through Kuriyama Tigerflex hoses.

Included in the petroleum total are asphalt tanks. Hahn Transportation runs heated and nonheated asphalt trailers, and most have been built by E D Etnyre & Co. They are constructed of carbon steel and have a 7,000-gallon capacity. Components include a three-inch rear outlet, Truck-Lite LED lights, Reyco Transpro spring suspension, and Meritor axles with MeritorWABCO antilock braking.

Four Hahn Transportation maintenance shops help keep vehicles in top shape. Preventive maintenance is the primary focus, but the shops have the capability to completely rebuild tractors and noncode trailers.

It's all part of the Hahn Transportation commitment to provide customers with outstanding, safe service. It's a promise that was made over 65 years ago.