Wholesale & Distribution International - Winter 2018 - 52
years, the division grew to more than 130
warehouses nationwide and offered a variety of products in addition to plywood.
In 1994, the distribution division consolidated its warehouses from multiple
smaller locations to larger distribution
warehouses that could service larger areas and provide more products to their
customers. They also created two large
sales and operations centers with one
located in Denver and one in Atlanta to
create operational efficiencies.
A decade later, Chicago-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management
and a team of senior leaders from the distribution division purchased the assets of
the division from Georgia-Pacific, forming BlueLinx Corp. Today, BlueLinx Holdings, operating through its wholly owned
subsidiary BlueLinx Corp., has more than
1,600 employees and a fleet of about 450
tractors and 650 trailers and flatbeds.
The company recently replaced 62
of its older model International trucks
with 2014-year Peterbilt trucks that have
around 150,000 miles each, because the
cost to buy used was about 25 percent less
than buying a new truck. By acquiring used
trucks for its replacement cycle, BlueLinx
Holdings is seeing a fuel savings because
the Peterbilts have better fuel economy.
The company is also avoiding a large depreciation hit it would see buying new, and
does not have to pay federal excise tax because the trucks are used, Driver says.
Ongoing fleet replacement efforts
include adding 50 curtain side trailers,
bringing its total to 485. Curtain side
trailers allow BlueLinx to better transport materials such as lumber, which
would otherwise need to be placed in
a bag before being placed on a flatbed
trailer to prevent it from being exposed
to the elements. "Our customers have almost demanded this," Driver says, noting
that it is easier to load lumber on and off
trucks when bags are not put into play.
BlueLinx is also developing a strategy to
replace the more than 500 forklifts it has in
service in its distribution centers, he adds.
BlueLinx' fleet management operations
took a major step forward last year when
the company brought its maintenance
and repair coordination functions inhouse. A third-party management company had previously overseen the operation.
The company manages maintenance
from Atlanta, where it operates a call center. Three maintenance coordinators use
an internal software program that houses
BlueLinx has saved $500,000 since bringing its
maintenance in-house last year.
52 www.wdimagazine.com Winter 2018
the complete records for each truck, as
well as the company's network of vendors. The coordinators are responsible
for contacting vendors near the truck and
setting up appointments for the driver.
Each maintenance coordinator is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and repair needs of about 500
pieces of equipment as well as coordinate
BlueLinx Holdings works with more
than 400 vendors who provide repair and
BlueLinx has saved $500,000 in maintenance costs since bringing management in-house. The company did this in
part by re-negotiating with vendors and
eliminating fees the management company charged to vendors. In addition, by
bringing its maintenance operation inhouse, BlueLinx Holdings has the opportunity to review work orders, standard
repair times and parts costs, driver says.
Bringing maintenance management inhouse was a major priority for the company. "This is the fourth time in my career as
a fleet manager that I've done this," says
Driver, who joined BlueLinx in late 2014.
"Every time I did it, I saved files and kept a
step-by-step process of how to bring that
activity in-house, and that made me an
attractive [ job] candidate."
Driver's ongoing initiatives for the company include expanding its use of onboard
cameras. The company began using cameras last year following its implementation of electronic logs - via the PeopleNet
system - to document drivers' daily vehicle inspection reports, Driver says.
More than 60 new trucks have already
been fitted with the cameras. The company is deciding how to roll them out to
the older trucks in its fleet. "This will continue as we upgrade our trucks," he adds.
"Onboard cameras have already helped
us tremendously in terms of liability; if an
accident happens, we can simply pull the
video and see who was at fault."