With a fleet of 105 trucks, DG Coleman, which boasts pneumatic and tank trailer divisions, keeps its office staff relatively small, with only 13 employees.
When they come to work, it feels like a family reunion.
Ten of the employees are family members, and the three who aren’t might as well be, said Jim Coleman, DG Coleman’s chief operating officer and co-owner, along with brother Rich and sister Tammy. “One is lead dispatcher for our pneumatic division, and he’s been with us for eight years; and our HR manager has been with us two years,” Jim said.
“We also consider our drivers part of the family. They know our history and can see our family bond. All told, we’re a tight-knit group.”
The Commerce City-based company is a mainstay in Colorado. DG Coleman began operation in 1972 when Jim’s parents, Dan and Kathy, purchased their first truck and leased on to Ruan Transport. The company grew from there and now offers pneumatic, aggregate, tanker and dry van services operating primarily in Colorado. Dan, at 73, still serves as president, while Kathy is vice president. They started their succession planning for the company a year ago to engage the next generation.
Operating a fleet of Kenworths—T680s for the dry van division and T880s for the others—the company recently took delivery of Kenworth’s newest model, the W990. “We had eight come in a few months ago and our drivers were pretty excited,” Jim said. “When I started with the company, I did light maintenance, then dispatch, and then became a driver. I still drive on occasion and I know the importance of a quality and comfortable rig. I’ve been there.
“The W990 gives us the comfort, along with the long hood that truckers just love. It’s caused a lot of talk among our drivers.”
Since DG Coleman is a regional operation, it operates mostly day cabs, “so room inside the truck is really important. And it’s why we like the Kenworth T680 and T880,” Jim said. “It’s also a big selling point on the W990 as compared to the W900, which we’ve run before. The cab is so much wider and the same as our T680s and T880s. We feel the W990 will not only help us with driver retention, but its great look showcases our company. It shows quality and mirrors our own image.”
The company purchases its trucks from MHC Kenworth-Denver. “And, they’ve been great to work with,” Jim said. “They’re very important to our success, just as much as the truck is. If there is ever an issue, MHC is quick to respond. They’re right on it and with us all the way.”
DG Coleman specifies the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 horsepower, and recently added the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission. The company typically grosses out at 97,000 pounds with its three-axle trailers, and at 92,000 pounds on its five-axle tanker trailers, Jim said.
“Couple the heavy weights with the mountain passes we have to travel in Colorado and you create challenges for your equipment,” he said. “We haul about 110 loads a day from Buena Vista and Fairplay back to Denver. Those areas are about 120 miles west of Denver and our trucks go through four mountain passes.
“We need the power going up, and the power to stop going down. It’s one reason we equipped all our trucks with disc brakes.”
Since the company makes money for every pound hauled in its aggregate and tanker divisions, lightweight specs were analyzed with MHC Kenworth, “but not at the expensive of durability,” Jim said. “Our reputation has been built on our family name, which is all about integrity and reliability. The most critical thing for us is dependable equipment and meeting each customer’s delivery schedule. With that in mind, we were still able to spec integrated knuckle, lightweight front springs, plus Alcoa aluminum wheels and a fixed fifth wheel.”
With a five-year trade cycle, D.G. Coleman has seen firsthand the value of their Kenworths in helping to drive down costs. “To be successful you need to look at total life cycle costs—and we do,” Coleman said. “Vehicle reliability, driver acceptance and fuel economy are key, and that helps fuel resale value. And with good resale values, the bottom line looks a whole lot better.”