by Tim Brady, Business editor

The purpose of “Spotlight on an American Trucker” is to bring our readership to life, by putting names and faces alongside their successes. If you know of a small or micro business that utilizes trucks in the course of doing business that you’d like us to feature in “Spotlight on an American Trucker,” please send their contact information to tbrady@writeuptheroad.com.

blue ridgeOwner: Joey Slaughter
In business: Since 2010
Location: Ringgold, VA
Website: www.blueridgetransport.com

Blue Ridge Transport specializes in open-deck transport, primarily in the southeast region. Commodities hauled include lumber, construction equipment, heavy equipment, motor vehicles and building materials.

Do you have regularly scheduled routes or on-demand delivery?
We offer on-demand delivery. I try to be flexible in order to quickly respond to higher spot rates in various regions of the country.

How is maintenance handled? Your own shop or jobbed out?
I handle all the operator-level maintenance that I can, and I use a trusted vendor for everything else.

What are three challenges you face with your maintenance program? How do you resolve each of these?
  1. Tire failures. I try to buy better tires, check pressure more often, and am investigating a tire monitoring system for possible future purchase.
  2. Scheduling downtime. I schedule maintenance on my truck/trailer when I won’t otherwise be using the equipment so as not to lose any operating time, i.e., during my military drills, vacation, etc.
  3. Parts acquisition. I live an hour from the nearest dealer so certain parts cannot be acquired in a timely manner. I try to do as much preventive maintenance as possible to avoid roadside breakdowns and other unscheduled downtime.

How do you ensure good mileage from tires?
I gauge tires weekly and keep a good check on them at every stop. I also buy high-quality, low rolling resistance tires to start with. I flip my non-directional steer tires as needed to increase life. I’m currently investigating a tire monitoring system.

Do you stock any parts for your trucks or purchase as needed? If you stock parts, which ones?
In the past, I have stocked fuel filters and a serpentine belt. Currently, I’m not doing that as the DD15 requires three fuel filters. When I transported cars, I kept spare hydraulic repair kits with me. I keep a spare trailer tire with me at all times, since it’s a smaller size and may be hard to get on the road.

How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck or trailer?
I perform a cost analysis to see how much the equipment is costing me. The time factor has to be calculated as well: How much time am I losing by having older equipment sitting in the shop? Time equals money and there is a cost associated.

What are your specifications for your trucks?
I currently have a used SelecTruck (2010 Freight­liner Cascadia, DD15, Eaton Fuller 10 speed, 72-in. condo sleeper) that belonged to one of the big fleets and the torque was set at the minimum setting. The gear ratio was also not suited for my operation; however, this is a free truck that Freightliner gave me to use while in their ‘Team Run Smart’ program so no complaints here!

What programs do you have in place to ensure CSA compliance for your trucks and/or trailers?
I monitor my own compliance, safety and accountability. I subscribe to J.J. Keller to keep me abreast of the ever-changing regulations and keep a close ear to the Sirius/XM Road Dog network of what’s going on in the industry. I belong to NASTC and OOIDA as well. I maintain my own CSA records and don’t contract any of that out.