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.

janzen smallCompany:  Janzen Trucking
Owner:  Bruce Janzen
In business:  Since 1982
Location:  Elbing KS

Bruce has been involved in trucking since 1978, starting as a driver for a private carrier. In 1982 he purchased his first truck and leased it with two separate motor carriers. He acquired his own status as a motor carrier in 1987 and has been operating as one ever since.

Tell us about Janzen Trucking.
The primary focus of my company is to move freight. First, I operated one truck hauling agricultural products with a hired driver, then I expanded to four trucks, driving one myself. Finally, I downsized and began hauling agricultural commodities myself. In the past year, I’ve concentrated on pulling a reefer trailer.

Do you run regularly scheduled routes or provide on-demand delivery service?
Since I started pulling a reefer, I’ve looked for profitable lanes I enjoy [driving]. Plus, with family scattered all over the USA, I’ve been using the truck to visit on a semi-regular basis. I’m starting to settle on a Kansas-Arizona-Ohio-Kansas round. Pulling a reefer demands on-time delivery, with unload times often set before the product is even harvested and packaged.

How do you handle maintenance?
I schedule all my own maintenance; most of it is done at two shops in central Kansas where I’m based. Since I control loading days, there’s little delay to my schedule. Occasionally, I’ll need repairs OTR; however, I try to prevent this by fixing items before they break. Having been in trucking for 35 years and growing up on a progressive farm, I learned the value of preventive maintenance. The old saying “a truck rarely breaks down in the driveway” is true, so I’ve learned to spot potential problems and correct them before they turn into big issues. I carry a toolbox and parts and do very minor fixes myself.

How do you minimize downtime?
I follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for preventive maintenance. I know many fleets/O-O’s will stretch out PMs to save a few dollars. I’ll often do servicing earlier than recommended if time or location dictate. I’ve talked to many good mechanics who all agree oil, filters, grease, and good care will benefit you in the long run.

Both my dad and grandfather used to say, “Oil and grease are cheap compared to the alternative of not taking care of stuff.” My shops are instructed to fix stuff that needs to be fixed when the truck is in the shop—even if I didn’t put it on my list.

How do you ensure good tire mileage?
Tires continue to be a struggle. I tend to be price-conscious and I have a hard time buying the highest priced tire. I’ve noticed that some off-branded tires have a lower CPM than name-brand tires. Tire wear is affected by many factors: alignment, tire pressure, road conditions. Proper tire pressure is the most important item for tire life.

What does your company do best?
I’m at my best when I can deliver cargo for a shipper who desires personal attention for their product. I take care of it as if it was my own.