A variety of Peterbilt products goes to work daily on local projects for the Shelly Company, the leading ready-mix concrete, aggregates and asphalt provider in the state of Ohio.
Peterbilt Model 567 tractors, for example, are regularly delivering heavy equipment on low-boy trailers, grossing up to 120,000 lbs., to southern Ohio job sites.
Peterbilt Model 348 straight trucks configured with tanks and distribution apparatus will deliver up to 3,500 gallons of asphalt; Model 337s in single-axle configurations similarly carry and distribute up to 2,000 gallons of asphalt. Another Model 337 is fitted with a body specially designed to provide lubrication and preventive maintenance services to Shelly vehicles at job sites, thereby improving operational efficiency by saving equipment a trip to the shop for service. Additional Model 567s work in The Shelly Company Ready Mix Division operations.
Ensuring the spec is right for the various Shelly Company tasks at hand is Vice President of Equipment Jeff Freeman.
And that’s a task, he says, is “a little like being in Congress.”
The Shelly Company dates back to 1938, when Charles J. Shelly formed the company to service construction projects in and around Thornville, Ohio, which remains its headquarters. The company grew as the state did, eventually expanding services and capacities, as it acquired and merged 24 other Ohio-based companies under The Shelly Company umbrella.
But in 2000, the Shelly Company itself was the object of an acquisition, as it was purchased by Oldcastle Materials, Inc., a publicly traded company under CRH, with a nationwide footprint that has since become the leading asphalt producer and paver in the United States, and one of the top three aggregates and ready-mix producers.
At this point, few could be blamed for thinking that whatever still existed of the local, community-rooted mom-and-pop flavor of The Shelly Company would become a thing of the distant past. But the Oldcastle business strategy recognized the value of local brand identity. The Shelly Company name would remain, and for the most part, so would its way of doing business.
That is, except for ways that The Shelly Company and the many similar companies nationwide that make up Oldcastle could benefit from a national framework and the support of a broad network of resources.
And specifically, that would drive the manner that Freeman would acquire trucks and function as a member of “Congress” for the Ohio operation.
In order to sell trucks to any of the Oldcastle companies, an OEM must obtain “preferred supplier status” from a group of representative equipment specialists — like Freeman — who represent the interests of their subsidiary. OEMs will make their pitch, and its up to “Congress” to decide on the two or three who achieve preferred status.
“It’s a little like the government,” Freeman says. “I carry the message of the local guys, what they like and what they don’t like. It comes to the end, and it’s time to cast our ballots.”
Prior to 2013, no new Peterbilts had ever appeared in the Shelly fleet, but Freeman wanted to take a fresh look at the fleet makeup.
“We evaluated Peterbilt, and it came up best in class in all the critical areas. Plus it has great brand recognition and excellent dealer support.” – Jeff Freeman
“The number one criteria we considered is the total cost of ownership,” he says. “Along with that goes reliability and availability. So we started with the acquisition price, considered the cost to repair and maintain it, and what the residual value would be on the back side.
“We evaluated Peterbilt, and it came up best in class in all the critical areas. Plus it has great brand recognition and excellent dealer support.”
Starting with a basic spec, Freeman is able to customize it to local needs. On the one hand, that allows him to beef up the chassis on some of the liquid haulers, or lighten up the Model 567s as much as possible to maximize ready-mix payloads. But it also allows him to bring some consistency to the Shelly spec, which benefits the service efficiency of shop manager Shawn Forsythe.
“When we have that consistency in our spec, we can transfer that asset to a sister company that might be busier than we are, or to another part of the state, and it’s that much easier for them to operate and service,” says Freeman. “We also can stock fewer parts, and our guys are confident in their understanding of the machine itself.
“That impacts our efficiency and productivity in the field. And lowering our costs makes us more competitive at the bid table, positively impacting our ability to procure and perform work.”
A consistent spec also plays a role in advancing Oldcastle’s safety initiative, which the company defines as a guiding value.
“Anytime an operator gets in a cab, there are a lot of buttons and features, and you want to make sure that your operator is comfortable operating that asset,” Freeman says. “We want to make it as safe as possible for that individual and the people working around him.
“Everybody’s got a family,” he adds. “We want to make sure our people go home safely every evening. It’s our number one value.”
The new Peterbilts in all applications have proven to be popular with drivers, according to General Superintendent Doug Cooperrider.
“The guys driving our distributors (Models 337 and 348) really like the roominess of the cab,” he says. “And our guys in the road haulers (Model 567s) also like the roominess of the cab.”
Freeman is happy to hear the reviews: “With the durability of the Peterbilt chassis, we expect the trucks carrying liquids to last us a long time.”
How long? “Forever,” says Cooper-rider.