After running a combination of diesel and gasoline engines, Rafe Gibson has moved almost exclusively to gasoline trucks since they cost less to maintain. Although diesel has a higher payload, Gibson says he hasn’t had any issues with the gas engine powering each truck’s payload of 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. Each truck tows a gooseneck trailer loaded with materials and supplies.
“I can get just as many miles out of the gas engine and it costs $5,000 to $8,000 less to buy than a diesel truck,” says Gibson, owner of DecoCrete Professional Flooring Solutions. “Then I have to look at regular maintenance costs; it costs at least $20 more per oil change for a diesel engine. Plus, gasoline prices are cheaper now.”
With his trucks and construction crews gone weeks at a time, Rafe Gibson needs a dependable, cost-effective fleet that can stick to a rigid maintenance schedule, which has to be planned two weeks to a month in advance.
“When scheduling crews out for five to six days a week, the crews aren’t down long enough to maintain their trucks,” says Gibson. “Maintenance has to be scheduled in advance. If you get the same trucks, it’s easier to maintain all of them with the same maintenance schedule. One repair shop can work on all the trucks.”
Founded in 2001, Gibson’s flooring company has seven trucks — and seven crews — traveling to projects across the state of Texas. Mainly working on commercial projects in the medical research and food/beverage industries, the one-ton GMC and Chevrolet crew cabs (with flatbed) average 30,000 to 50,000 miles per year — with a lifecycle close to 300,000 miles.
GM’s Business Elite Program has enabled Gibson to purchase all of his trucks through one contact. For the past 14 years, Gibson has been buying vehicles through Jason Culpepper, a Business Elite dealer representative who works at James Wood Motors in Decatur, Texas.
“If I need a new truck, I can call Jason today and he can be at my office the next morning with it,” says Gibson. “I have such a relationship with him that I wouldn’t buy from anyone else.”
This partnership doesn’t end with the purchase of the vehicle; it continues throughout the lifecycle of the fleet. While the vehicles are still under warranty, Culpepper will pick up Gibson’s vehicles for maintenance checks and then provide a loaner vehicle.
“When I was on a project in Houston, I took my truck to a dealership to be looked at,” says Gibson. “I called Jason and he said that his dealership could fix it for less. He sent a truck to Houston and transported my truck to his dealership to get it fixed. He gave me a loaner vehicle in the meantime.”
With his vehicles gone weeks at a time, Gibson has installed telematics systems in each truck to maintain accountability among his crews. Being able to see when a crew arrives and leaves a work site has helped reduce the instances of employees logging inaccurate hours.
Additionally, the telematics system has proved to be effective in promoting fleet safety by tracking the vehicle’s speed. According to Gibson, he receives a text when a truck is exceeding a certain speed limit.
“Now that I have vehicles that are fairly new and in good running order, I don’t worry about my fleet,” says Gibson. “When I first started my business and was buying used vehicles, I was worried about my trucks, which were on their last leg. I was worried that the phone would ring and a truck would be broke down.”