Lipman Family Farms is All About Quality Produce and Reliable PacLease Trucks for Transport
August 10, 2022
If you love tomatoes, chances are you’ve tasted one from Lipman Family Farms.
As the largest open-field grower of tomatoes in the United States, Lipman has made a name for itself since the 1930s. The company started as a “push cart” in New York City delivering produce to local restaurants from the Washington Street Market. As the family and business grew, the fledgling operation was moved to Florida to be closer to the farms and packing facilities. Today, Lipman Family Farms has evolved into the largest open field producer of tomatoes with growing and packing operations throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It operates thousands of acres of farmland, primarily in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and California, growing more than a million pounds of tomatoes each day.
“We service the entire lower 48 states and parts of Canada,” said Max Press, who manages Lipman’s fleet of trucks. “We need to have control of our product quality, so having our own fleet of 80-plus refrigerated trucks enables us to maintain the quality of our produce. What’s more, our trucks and trailers are moving billboards for us. They help promote our brand and our quality.”
The company operates a mix of owned and leased trucks, with PacLease being the company’s preferred lessor. Today, PacLease provides 54 Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks – primarily Kenworth T680s, T880s, and Peterbilt Model 579s through 10 PacLease locations. Lipman Family Farms runs local delivery in select locations and soon will be taking delivery of six Kenworth T680 Next Gens with 76-inch sleepers, and five Kenworth medium duty truck straight trucks.
“With leasing, we know our costs each month, and can retain capital since we don’t need a large outlay of cash,” Press said. “And it forces us, in a good way, to have a regimented trade cycle, to keep us in newer equipment. It also frees us from maintenance headaches and improves our vehicle uptime.”
The company started work with PacLease in 2017, and they have continued to grow together. “In today’s environment, drivers are hard to retain,” said Press. “We made the conscious decision to make our drivers’ work environment as nice as possible. We feel if they drive the best trucks, Kenworths and Peterbilts – which are also more reliable – then it will go a long way in helping retention.”
According to Press, in the produce business, there can be a lot of waiting for loads, it’s one reason why Lipman Family Farms spec’d the majority of its trucks with large sleepers. This way, drivers can relax during their down time, or have a place to sleep should they run out of hours. Most are also equipped with APUs, for engine-off heat and air conditioning.
Typically, a PacLease unit will work within a 500-mile radius from its home base. A normal day will have a truck go to a warehouse, pick up produce and deliver to a distribution center for re-packaging. Then, after its sorted, packaged and put on pallets for customer orders, the trucks head to wholesalers and retailers. “We normally will gross out in weight versus cube out,” said Press. “We can load up to 1,600 boxes of tomatoes onto 20 pallets for deliveries. The day cabs we have in our fleet will average around 60,000 miles per year, with our sleeper units going upwards of 120,000 miles per year. The east coast is particularly heavy for us, and we’ll make numerous deliveries per week to our customers.”
Most trucks are powered by Cummins 15-liter engines and driven through automated 12-speed transmissions. Since multiple PacLease locations are used, some Lipman trucks will go into a nearby PacLease location for service, while other PacLease locations will send mobile service vehicles to handle PMs at Lipman’s terminal.
Since demand can fluctuate, Press said he appreciates how he can transfer PacLease units around to different locations based on “current” demand. “That really gives us flexibility,” he said. “That’s one advantage of the national network that PacLease offers.”
All told, Press said he’s been very pleased with his relationship with PacLease. “They offer the highest quality trucks, and back it with great service. They make our job a lot easier.”