Mack? trucks power Graniterock fleet through tough emissions standards
In 2010 Denny Mahler, operations manager for Graniterock Company's Transportation Division, had a problem. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) had announced the implementation of new and tighter emissions regulations, and Mahler knew his aging fleet couldn't pass the new tests.
Adding to Mahler's concerns was the country's then-struggling economy, which experienced a recession and industry slowdown. It was an inopportune time to be making a big investment so Mahler wanted to be sure to invest in the best equipment while doing what made sense economically for his company.
A Mack rolls into town
It may have been small consolation to Mahler at the time, but his dilemma was just the latest of many challenges Graniterock had faced in its 100-plus years in business. Nevertheless, the pressure was on, and Denny Mahler started doing his homework.
"Because of the new CARB rules all the engines changed. Basically we had to start over," he said. The big question on Mahler's mind was a simple one: Who has the best product out there? "Based on everything I had read, studied and heard, I felt like the Mack® engine was the best platform for what we needed."
Just about the time that Denny was coming to this conclusion a Mack® Pinnacle™ truck rolled in through the company's gates.
Adam VanderBee is the new truck sales manager for TEC Equipment in Oakland, some 90 miles or so to the north of Graniterock's Aromas, California, facility.
"Graniterock is a renowned road builder," VanderBee says. "Anyone in the industry knows its size and scope." TEC also knew about Graniterock's considerable transportation business, hauling aggregate materials, such as rock, sand and gravel, as well as bulk cement and hot asphalt oil throughout the central coast and San Francisco Bay areas. TEC wanted that business.
"We felt that with the Mack we had a good story to tell them," VanderBee says. So they drove a Mack demo truck south to Aromas and offered Denny Mahler a test drive.
The test drive clinched it for Denny. Graniterock bought its first Mack in 2012, and Mack became Graniterock's truck of choice. Since then, the company has purchased 17 more. The current fleet of 18 includes a variety of Pinnacle models, and Graniterock plans to add four more Macks in the future.
Thanks to Mahler's research and TEC's timely visit, Graniterock met the CARB emissions on deadline, and Denny had solved his problem.
Yet the emissions issue, though important, was just one factor contributing to Mahler's decision. "Safety Before All Else" is the company's mantra and it is proudly declared, clear and bright, on the forest green livery of every truck in the fleet. It undoubtedly informed Mahler's decision making.
"Based on everything I had read, studied and heard, I felt like the Mack® engine was the best platform for what we needed." - Denny Mahler, operations manager for Graniterock Company's Transportation Division
He points out that for safety reasons he preferred Mack's use of steel rather than aluminum as used by some competitors. He also spec'd proximity sensing and anti-roll technology to better safeguard his drivers on the road.
The virtues of the mDRIVE™ automated transmission factored in too, and its impact was immediate. "We had a guy doing our oil pickup run to Bakersfield," Mahler said. "Bakersfield's a pretty long haul for us, and he was in an older truck. He'd get back exhausted with all the clutching and shifting. So we put him in an mDRIVE and the first time he got back from his run in that truck he was smiling from ear to ear and looked so refreshed I knew I had made a good decision."
Most of their Pinnacles have mDRIVEs.
Mahler says the Macks on the Bakersfield run perform very well. Fuel economy from that section of the fleet averages a little over 7 mpg, while the combined fleet average is 6.11 mpg. "That's excellent for what we do, and much better than what we were getting before."
The connection between TEC Oakland and Graniterock has grown strong since that day TEC rolled into Aromas in a Mack. VanderBee says they are great customers with high expectations.
"That's a very fair assessment," Mahler says. "We do have high expectations. Maybe it's because our customers have high expectations of us and we rise to the level our customers expect. We expect our vendors to do the same for us, and TEC does. They're a very supportive dealership and we have an excellent relationship."
All in the family
Graniterock is still owned by the descendants of founder AR Wilson, and it prides itself on its relationship with its workforce, Mahler says.
"It's a company that invests in its people. They'll help you further your education, encourage you and let you take risks."
"The people who go to work at Graniterock typically stay at Graniterock for a long time," he says, "because once you've gone to work for Granite-rock, you really don't want to go anywhere else."
It goes back to the owners, said Mahler. They've always been very big on investing in their people.
The investment has paid off. Many of the company's employees have worked at Graniterock for decades and in some instances they are the second or third generation in their family to work for the company. Denny Mahler is a case in point. His grandfather and father both worked for Graniterock, as did his two older brothers. Denny has worked with the company, as a contracted owner operator or as an employee, for over 40 years.