Comfortable tractors

Sept. 1, 2010
Opies Transport vehicle specs promote driver productivity, satisfaction

Dennis “D J” Hutton has logged more than 2.75 million miles for Opies Transport Inc since he started driving for the Eldon, Missouri-based liquid bulk food hauler in 1987.

Opies Transport owner Danny Opie says drivers like Hutton are critical to his company's ability to maintain a leadership position in the liquid foodgrade transportation field. Back in 2006, Opies Transport chose Hutton as its Driver of the Year for his safety record and his dedication to the company and its customers.

“We place driver satisfaction as one of our company's top priorities because if we didn't have drivers like Hutton, our company just couldn't succeed,” Opie says. “As part of our company's mission, we're dedicated to offering customers an ever-increasing quality of service and providing our drivers and our support staff a solid, secure future.

“We think providing our drivers with trucks equipped with the best specifications gives them one of the best possible tools needed to provide our customers with the quality of service they expect from us. That's one reason we run an all-Kenworth truck fleet.”

Nationwide operations

In business since 1976, Opies Transport operates throughout the 48 contiguous US states hauling bulk food grade products for all of the major US food companies. In addition to the headquarters terminal in Eldon, the fleet serves customers from a second terminal in Memphis, Tennessee. Both terminals have kosher foodgrade wash racks that are open to other carriers.

The company operates a fleet that includes of 110 tractor and an equivalent number of tank trailers specified for foodgrade service. The carrier has a reputation for tailoring equipment to meet very specific customer needs.

Hutton, one of more than 100 company drivers, operates one of the company's newest Kenworth T660 conventionals. Opies Transport purchased 37 T660s over the past two year, all of them specified with the 72-inch Aerocab FlatTop sleeper.

“The T660 is the best Kenworth truck we've had,” Hutton says. “I've driven a few other Kenworth models, but the T660 has got to be hands-down my favorite because it has a great profile and offers an excellent ride.”

According to Hutton, he does a lot of night driving due to tight delivery schedules and the need to avoid heavier traffic during day. Night driving presents unique challenges, particularly on two-lane or four-lane rural highways.

“When I'm night driving on roads through the Ozarks or in Colorado, it can be so easy to hit a deer,” Hutton says. “The T660's (xenon) headlight system casts light farther and wider (compared to conventional sealed beam headlamps), so you can see more of the road and into the ditch. Your field of vision is just so much wider, and that helps to avoid deer strikes.”

Quiet tractors

Hutton also appreciates how quiet and comfortable the T660 is to drive. “It also has lots of legroom and the fold-down table in the sleeper gives me a place to get my paperwork done,” he adds.

Opie says his local Kenworth dealer helped him choose the powertrain specifications for optimum fuel efficiency and superior gradeability, which offers drivers additional power to climb hills and grades when they need it. He says he plans to specify the Paccar MX engine in his future Kenworth truck orders.

“We need trucks that are spec'd to operate efficiently, can run all across the country, and provide drivers with a comfortable work environment since they're typically out on the road for a week or longer,” Opie says. “Ease of maintenance for mechanics at our two company maintenance facilities, great resale values, and a great dealership organization nationwide are three more reasons why we run Kenworth trucks.”

On the rare occasions when a company driver needs assistance with an issue while on the road, Opie says he can count on finding a Kenworth dealer that can provide the help and service needed to get the truck and its load back on the road.