First Class

Summer 2015

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14 l FIRST CLASSCLASS Data Driven Troy Baird says he's a man in the "penny-counting business." That statement may not be literal- ly true — Baird is, in fact, the CEO of Custom Ecology, Inc. (CEI), a diverse materials hauler focused on munici- pal solid waste (MSW) transport with headquarters in the Atlanta suburb of Mableton. But it does demonstrate the attention to details that drives CEI's profitability and, in turn, that of his customers. For example, the newest of Baird's Peterbilt Model 579s, which make up the vast majority of the firm's 550 power units spread over five different operating units, are equipped with Peterbilt's EPIQ fuel efficiency package. Any long hauler would surely find nothing unusual about maximizing the fuel-saving advantages of Peterbilt's aerodynamic and fuel-efficient perfor- mance. But Baird admits few who make their living going to and from landfills and MSW transfer stations, with round trips typically less than 100 miles, think in terms of aerodynamic benefits. "We were 20 years in racing," says Baird of his years as a race team owner that included a few laps in NASCAR. "Racing teaches you exactly how much wind matters. "Most people in the industry would go, 'What? Aerodynamics? You're haul- ing MSW.' But we started putting pen to paper and the fuel economy improve- ments (more than 10 percent vs. tradi- tional conventionals that used to be in the fleet) were something we could not ignore. "Every technological advantage we can use matters, and we'll take every opportunity we can get to show our customers that we're doing our due dili- gence to keep their costs down." Baird also identifies Peterbilt's indus- try-leading residual value, a tight resale cycle that helps keep his fleet on the technological cutting edge, and perfor- mance reliability that maximizes uptime as keys to driving the company's growth and profitability. Resale strategy Baird entered the trucking business with a single Model 379 in Holly Hill, S.C., in 1993. Through organic growth and acquisition, his company grew quickly and steadily, and the ambitious Baird grew his stable of Peterbilts. At the root of his success was a resale strategy that saw Baird replacing his power units in no more than 36 months, and often at 30 months. "We see equipment purely as a cost- to-own consideration, not cost-to-buy, and Peterbilt's cost of ownership truly makes our business model work," he says. "We had one group of Peterbilts that after 30 months, returned nearly 90 percent of their original purchase price. It cost us $12,000 to own those trucks. You can't buy a compact car for that. "There were other trucks out there that might've cost $90,000 upfront, but you got back $45,000 on it." Baird says his new Model 579 day cabs — "spec'ed to sell" with a PACCAR MX-13 Engine and 10-speed transmis- sion — have found a hungry market. "We have the youngest fleet in the industry at an average of 1.5 years," Baird says. "And that means something to drivers, too. If you're a truck driver, why not run the best truck on the road? And why not run a new one?" High-tech Peterbilts give CEI an edge in profitability CUSTOM ECOLOGY, INC.

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