Meadow Lark Transport Grows its 3PL Business with PacLease
March 2, 2021
In the world of dedicated logistics, knowing your costs and ensuring the reliability of your fleet is what can make or break a contract with a shipper. Forecast right and you’re in the black. Predict wrong and you lose money. As a leading 3PL carrier, with roots dating back to 1983, Meadow Lark Transport has the process dialed in.
“In order to make it in this business you really need to know your costs in order to create a bid that will benefit both parties over the course of the contract,” said Mike Kandas, chief operating officer at Meadow Lark. “Full-service leasing, and using independent contractors, have been two ways we manage our costs. It’s allowed us to stay competitive and know our outflows down to the penny.”
Managing a fleet of close to 500 power units – all Class 8 – Meadow Lark has been working with PacLease for a portion of its fleet since 2018. The Billings, Montana company, which works with top names like GE Appliance and Sofidel (a world leader in tissue paper), operates Kenworth T680s and Peterbilt Model 579 sleeper units, along with Peterbilt Model 567 day cabs. The company has 20 more Peterbilt Model 579s now on order, “and we’re looking at adding beyond that,” said Kandas. “PacLease by far tops the other leasing companies we’ve used. They’ve given us great service, understand spec’ing and how to improve efficiencies, can handle maintenance remotely throughout the country, and have a substitute vehicle program should we ever have a breakdown. Couple all of that with accurate cost accounting for the leased vehicles, and it gives us what we need in operational costs and budgeting.”
Flexibility is another key for Kandas. “While most of our leases with PacLease are for five years, we also have short-term leases,” he said. “We recently signed a one-year dedicated contract carriage with a Pennsylvania company so we matched that with a one-year lease with PacLease for Peterbilt day cabs. PacLease understands our business model and can work with us to put in the right equipment for the right duration of time.”
Since Meadow Lark runs lean with 20 offices and independent agents throughout the United States, there can be a few trucks to several hundred trucks operating out of any one area. Since maintenance is provided by PacLease, the expense and budget uncertainty of having its own shop is a non-issue. “We don’t have to worry about maintenance and our trucks can be serviced anywhere within the PacLease network. We might have a driver based in California working a contract and we just have the truck scheduled for maintenance with PacLease in a location nearby. PacLease has been great about getting our trucks in and out so we’re constantly on the move making timely deliveries for our customers.”
Utilizing Kenworth and Peterbilt equipment was also a strategic decision by Meadow Lark. “We know professional drivers prefer PACCAR equipment,” said Kandas. “The Kenworths and Peterbilts are comfortable to drive, plus they have plenty of room in the sleepers. When we spec them we don’t skimp – they’re really equipped for comfort.”
The most recent order of Peterbilt Model 579s are powered with the complete PACCAR Powertrain, including the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 hp, the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission and lightweight PACCAR axle to maximize performance and fuel efficiency. The trucks feature Peterbilt’s EPIQ aerodynamic package– a complete fairing system to maximize fuel economy. To enhance driver comfort, the trucks feature loaded 72-inch sleepers, complete with double bunks, inverters and refrigerators. They’re also spec’d with the Peterbilt SmartAir HVAC system, which provides engine-off, battery-powered air conditioning for up to 10 hours at a stretch. They also were spec’d for enhanced safety: disc brakes, the Bendix Wingman Fusion system (front and side vehicle monitoring), along with the Bendix Electronic Stability program to help negate rollovers.
“These are beautiful trucks with all the latest technology that we know drivers want to operate,” said Kandas. “PacLease does a great job of working with us on the spec’s. They’re straight shooters and don’t recommend anything that isn’t in our best interest. They’ve been great to work with.”
Looking forward, Kandas sees a bright future. “This company was started by a husband and wife team brokering loads, and has grown past $200 million in revenue with their daughter, Amanda Roth, at the helm. Assets are now a major part of our business. The use of leased trucks, and our partnership with PacLease, will continue to propel our nationally recognized woman-owned business forward.”