When Otto Trucking in Mesa, Ariz., needed to hire 60 drivers for its Denver location, the company ran a newspaper advertisement with a photo of a brand new Kenworth T800. "The folks in Denver told us we would never be able to hire that many drivers in one month," says Alan Otto, president. "Thanks to that ad, we were able to hire 60 drivers in less than 20 days."
Attracting and keeping quality drivers has been an important ingredient to Otto Trucking's explosive growth in recent years. Primarily a sand and gravel truck company since its inception in 1984, Otto signed a major contract in 2003 with Waste Management Inc., the leading provider of waste and environmental services in North America. "We had to step up and in one year purchase 105 trucks, 105 trailers, loaders, and tippers," says Otto. "That was a really, really big step for us."
Three years later, in 2006, it was déjà vu all over again. Expansion into Denver meant more trucks were needed, so 100 more were ordered, mostly new Kenworth T800s like the one pictured in the ad.
"Drivers like Kenworth trucks," says Otto. "They always comment to me how nice the Kenworths ride and how smooth and quiet they are. Right now, the trucking business is about keeping drivers happy. When you have the best trucks on the block, drivers are less likely to jump across the fence to drive someone else's trucks."
While drivers appreciate the comfort of Kenworth T800s, Otto points to the quality, durability and reliability of his Kenworth fleet. "Kenworth builds a better truck for the sand and gravel market," says Otto. "Most critical to our success is uptime, and the T800 is tough to beat as a construction truck."
Alan's brother, Mark Otto, heads up maintenance on the fleet. "We're restricted to 80,000 pounds in Phoenix," says Mark. "To lighten the load, we spec aluminum wheels and smaller engine blocks like the Cat C13 and Cummins ISX. But this is a tough industry and, while I try to make the trucks as light as possible, we need tough, durable trucks. That's why we run Kenworth T800s."
With 350 trucks under his care, including 130 trucks dedicated to waste transfer parked at four remote sites around Arizona, Mark Otto relies on service trucks and night shift mechanics to help maintain the growing fleet.
"Mechanics like working on the Kenworths because of the easy access to everything under the hood," says Mark. "It's a lot more open so they can get at everything. But durability is the biggest thing. Put a Kenworth side by side with any truck and the Kenworth will be around much longer. Three years ago when we picked up the Waste Management business, I purchased about 50 used Kenworths, as well as a bunch of new ones. Those used Kenworths have really held their value. They're probably worth the same now as they were three years ago."
In 2007, the Otto companies will exceed $100 million in revenue. Not bad for a company started with one truck in 1984. "We have 600 employees and five companies now. Over the years, we have nurtured relationships with people and contractors, and we've grown with those relationships. So it's important for us to be reliable partners and to look professional on the job. Kenworth trucks make a statement for us in the business community."