For more than 20 years, Texas-based tanker company Andrews Logistics has relied on Peterbilt to help sustain growth and profits. Their partnership is built on mutual trust and confidence.
When Bill Andrews met Darron Eschle 23 years ago, he knew almost immediately that Eschle was not only someone he could trust, but also someone with whom he could build a new trucking business.
Andrews and his family started Andrews Transport in 1974. A transactional gas and asphalt hauler operating a fleet of Peterbilts, the business was successful but subject to seasonal fluctuations and marketplace uncertainties. “I wanted to create a company that didn’t operate transactionally,” Andrews says. “I wanted to start a dedicated contract carrier but knew that would not fit our existing company, so I decided to start another company.”
When Andrews met Eschle, he realized he’d found the right partner for that venture. A former J.B. Hunt dispatcher, Eschle was working as a regional manager for UPS and was only 29 at the time. He calls their first meeting, arranged by an Andrews vice president as a favor to a Texaco exec, “the luckiest day of my business life.”
A running start
When partnerships fail, it’s usually for one reason or another—poor planning, lack of funding, lack of skills, disagreements between parties—but Andrews already had deep roots in the trucking industry, and after meeting Eschle, he knew he’d found his younger match. The two men had similar business philosophies and personal values, and “I was willing to seize the opportunity, which turned out to be the best decision I ever made,” Andrews says.
The new company, Andrews Logistics, launched in November 1997 with six Peterbilts and one account. For years, it operated primarily as a van carrier for furniture retailer Bombay Company. In 2001, Andrews’ son-in-law Brian Jarvis, experienced in banking and finance, joined the team. Today, Eschle as CEO and Jarvis as president and COO operate as 50/50 partners, running nearly 400 customized Peterbilt Model 579s out of 14 U.S. terminals. Best known for transporting bulk liquids and hazardous materials in the lower 48 states, as well as Mexico and Canada, it is among the top five largest privately held tanker companies in the country.
Though Andrews Transport and Andrews Logistics were entirely separate companies, Bill Andrews had a reputation that benefited the new company. “Nobody knew me, because I was 29, 30 years old,” Eschle says, “but they knew Bill. And they knew that if he was willing to do business with me, then I was a good guy, too. That’s really where the Peterbilt relationship came in.”
The partnership that Bill Andrews established with a Peterbilt dealer decades earlier is part of the DNA of Andrews Logistics. The dealer was “an integral support for the growth of our young company, going from six trucks to nearly 400 in a relatively short amount of time,” Eschle says.
The Peterbilt dealer network is now equally important to the established company. “Uptime is critical to our organization,” Eschle says. “We can’t afford to have spare trucks sitting around just in case something breaks down. When we buy a piece of equipment, we’re running it five or six years, so we have to be able to depend on that unit in the last year just like we did in the first year.
“Downtime has a ripple effect on the customer and the driver. It’s not just the cost of getting a truck repaired; it’s also the cost of the service failure we have for the customer on that shipment. The original service issue means that we have to put that driver on a later shipment.”
Fuel efficient, comfortable, and safe
Andrews Logistics has in recent years converted its entire fleet from a traditional conventional platform to the Model 579, equipped with features that benefit both drivers and owners.
Jarvis credits the company’s modern Peterbilt fleet with easier driver recruitment and retention, as well as improved fuel efficiency and safety numbers. “Miles per gallon is the name of the game in the trucking industry, and Peterbilt comes up with great ideas to help us improve fuel efficiency,” he says. “Every quarter-mile, half-mile, mile per gallon is huge in terms of fuel savings. We just averaged our highest mpg overall.” A good portion of the fuel efficiency is attributable to the PACCAR MX-13 engine and 12-speed automated transmission. Auxiliary power units also help with those numbers, allowing drivers to be comfortable when they’re parked without idling their trucks.
Most Andrews drivers run over the road. They usually get home on weekends, but sometimes they’re out for a couple of weeks and need a truck that’s comfortable night after night. Eschle and Jarvis worked closely with their Peterbilt dealer on a truck that is spacious on the inside but also lightweight. With an 80-inch sleeper and automated PACCAR transmission, there’s plenty of space between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, making for a very roomy environment.
A well-rested driver is part of Andrews Logistics’ safety plan. So is the Bendix Fusion system, which provides collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. “We are obsessed with safety,” says Eschle. For years, the company has been among the tanker industry’s leaders in accident-free miles. There are trophies on display and a wall filled with safety awards at the Texas headquarters to prove it.
Five years ago, the company launched a formal campaign based on its long-established safety-centric culture. Called Target Zero, it’s an effort born out of a meeting with an insurance company safety exec who praised Eschle and his team for ending a year with only a single rollover, 14 injuries, and 15 accidents.
“He said, ‘Do that again!’ Eschle recalls, “and we all sat there and thought about it and said, ‘Wait a minute. We can’t have a goal of rolling one truck and having 15 accidents. The only acceptable goal is zero accidents, zero injuries, zero cross-contaminations and spills. That’s the only acceptable goal: zero.’”
So the Andrews team analyzed its most recent incidents, which took place in the previous few years, and compiled a list of eight items on which to focus Target Zero. “We touch on it at all safety meetings,” the CEO says. “It’s on our equipment, on our uniforms, in our email signatures. I consider it part of our culture.”
The program has resulted not only in an award-worthy safety record but also insurance costs that are lower as a percentage of revenue. Peterbilt has been a partner in that success.
“Since they know we are always looking to improve safety, they know that we want to learn about the newest technology right away,” Eschle says. “We’re committed to having the latest and greatest safety technology and accident mitigation equipment on all our trucks—to keep our employees safe as well as the general public operating on the nation’s highways.
“Peterbilt brought the Bendix Fusion to us knowing that we want to keep getting better and better,” Eschle says.
That’s just one example of how this great partnership works, Jarvis says. “Peterbilt reflects our standards and values. That’s important to us.”