The Peterbilt Series - Part 2

Interview by
Published on
January 13, 2022

In this episode...

Chris Davies, Fleet Manager for FreightWorks has a vigorous conversation with David Culpepper on how the Peterbilt advantage will be good for the company in the years ahead. You’ll see two professionals discuss how strategic partnerships benefit both enterprises and those solid personal relationships are the foundation for great, growing endeavors.

Chris Davies

Chris Davies is FreightWorks' Fleet Manager

David Culpepper

David Culpepper is a Truck Sales representative for The Pete Store in Greenville.


you know Chris let me ask you this because you're really there at the front lines of the inevitable issues that happen with maintenance what do you see happening with this fleet upgrade that you think is going to materially benefit the drivers with well hopefully the new trucks uh should have breakdown right David no they don't break not at all right, no no this is recorded for posterity and you've got a release that you're signing so I just wanted to make sure I reminded you of that so we're hoping I would obviously see fewer breakdowns in the new truck so I mean that's the ultimate goal

life by the mile delivered by freight works is your 30-minute weekly podcast adventure you'll hear the hearts soul and passions of those who keep america moving join us we're ready to roll this is a very special episode number two we have david culpepper that's with us he is the sales representative for peterbilt and chris davies who is the fleet manager for freight works you're going to really enjoy this conversation uh one of the things that we've committed to do at freight works is to try to give you an understanding of not just what we do but how we do what we do and uh this is going to be a great conversation about a tremendous partnership between an iconic company peterbilt and an emerging enterprise in freight works so welcome both of you glad to be here but let me let me let me start out by asking this question dave of course in episode number one we covered your background covered a little bit about peterbilt and some of the trends in the industry let's talk very specifically about the process you and chris were in that resulted in the order that's taken place so first of all i want you to uh just talk a little bit about how do the two of you relate to each other how does a fleet manager relate to somebody that's on the sales side of peterbilt so it all started long long ago not that long ago about about a year ago um i uh actually just came up to freight works um on a cold call uh never been here what are those like a cold call you just roll into a yard and you knock on a door pretty much yeah yeah so uh we we have some software that kind of indicates what what uh fleets have what trucks and that kind of thing um and what areas um and then you just knock on the door and walk in so i i went to the front office and the gentleman up there said that he was back in the shop and so i walked back to the shop and just walked in and so uh did you say hi my name is david i'm from peterbilt and i want you to buy trucks pretty much yeah for the most part okay and what was chris's response yeah it wasn't good

it wasn't that bad but it was uh you know they had had some issues with some pakhara products in the past and a little sour taste uh and so um yeah it was uh i knew that it wasn't gonna be an easy anything um but uh i don't know something told me to to come back and so i did and chris what was your recollection of that day i remember the same um since he was trying to sell us a paccard product and like you said we had some issues with packard before i didn't think that what he had to offer was going to be a good fit for us so honestly i didn't give him much of my time that day but he insisted with other emails to say please send me a spec so i can try to match up your spec and i can send you pricing and so i kind of reluctantly said okay i'll send it to you just to be nice and be friendly and kind of hopefully settle the case but uh thankfully the case didn't quite settle at that uh it continued until we decided to purchase trucks so well you know the thing that struck me just uh interacting with you over lunch is that the two of you have obviously forged a relationship with each other we're going to talk about how important that is in just a minute now is it true that your partner that you came with said you're not going to sell any trucks he'll go unnamed but uh but yes uh the the other gentleman that i can't wait we got back in my truck and he says yeah i don't think you're gonna sell them any trucks and i was like oh why do you say that i just i just don't don't feel i just don't feel like you will he's like they're pretty strong they're pretty strong armed and i don't know that that kind of gave me a little bit of a little motivation well it says it says a lot about you that you were tenacious and of course we're now at a point where after uh some courtship that sounded like it happened pretty quickly um there's now an order that's in place and you know i'd like chris for you to talk a little bit about what were the considerations and anybody that by the way has watched the episodes and saw chris's know that he he has an unusual background when it comes to being a fleet manager where he's got technical capabilities and and engineering capabilities but talk a little bit chris about what went into the specs that you were looking for on behalf of the drivers and the company of freightworks what were you looking for so we had a general spec that we had used before on uh specking a few other trucks not necessarily peterbilts so we kind of based everything off of that to start with so we sent that over to david he came back with a pretty aggressive price that was um a lot better than we had seen before with other oems and so that kind of i would say push the needle to uh peterbilt and then as we've discussed before i think peterbilt's fairly widely accepted among drivers so i mean a lot of drivers have their preference but if you say i'm giving you a peterbilt i haven't seen anybody turn down a peterbilt so that obviously is going to help because we're definitely looking for driver retention and also hiring new drivers and then in addition to that it was number one concern was safety so as david can speak we have added everything possible to make this the safest truck um on the road in addition to that it was all about driver comfort driver features so as he discussed in the first podcast that peterbilt has already taken a lot of time and effort into producing a driver comfort for the drivers and taking a lot of driver input to do that and so we just made sure that we were speccing everything on our truck possible to make this widely accepted by our drivers so that was the primary focus now how thick was that spec book i mean it was a lot right when when we were talking about this earlier a lot of drivers think can you just call and get us some new trucks it's a whole lot more involved than that like so chris give an example of when we talk about specs give a couple of examples real examples of what might be in that spec sheet or book so i think it's a little different concept when uh most people are used to probably expecting a car so you go to a car dealership or you look on the line right and you say hey you know when uh this is the car i want then you see okay i can order five different packages right there's really not a lot of custom customization beyond that package uh you get the car you get that package and you're done and you can visualize everything normally on the website right you can or you can see it at the dealership when it comes to a truck um there's no quote-unquote package uh everything is customizable from you know obviously the engine but then you got the starter you got the filters you got everything on the inside i mean literally you can inspect pretty much anything you want and there's not going to be any two trucks that are same as david has brought out before so really it takes a lot of cooperation between us and david the salesman to try to figure out okay what comes already standard on the truck and then what do we want to customize um i think our spec that we receive is like 17 pages long uh and i'm sure there's more uh to that spec obviously that we don't see that's already like standard uh but it's just going line by line to verify that there's something um that we are not missing it's so easy i think to kind of miss something that's maybe quote unquote obvious okay because there's just so many different options so it just takes david and i to kind of look over and say okay let's do we have everything are we scoping everything and um so it's a little bit of detail involved that's great now david talk real specifically we have people that are in the trucking and logistics industry they understand and we have lay people that watch this podcast can you give us using your best words and appropriate adjectives a description of what these trucks are going to be like like what are some of the features that are there yeah so um i mean aside from what standard that's going to come on the new 579 which uh as we know they they're actually just now um coming out with a it's a totally brand new redesign um you know they're going to feature an all new digital dash which is uh really one of the big things so everything that you see on the dash cluster right behind the steering wheel is all digital um and so it's also fully customizable so every single driver that gets in their truck they can fully customize what gauges they see and which ones they don't okay so based on what they feel is so driver preference driver pattern driver habit yes all of that is going to be reflected in uh their ability to sit in the seat and really make an environment that's best for them that's suited for is that safe to say yes 100 um the new digital dash will also do uh a preliminary pre-trip inspection for you as well so it'll check through all the gauges on the truck itself uh tires transmission temperatures oil all that stuff and give you check marks or red x's and x means needs attention obviously um a few other things you know chris and mentioned safety and safety has been a big part of our talks over the last year um you know things like vendix's fusion collision mitigation system side sensors to indicate if there's a car over on your right-hand side that you can't see uh torque assisted steering which you can literally turn the steering wheel with one finger uh i'm touch driven in a different oem but still the same concept and uh it's amazing yeah it's unbelievable yeah um we'll also feature uh once it is available lane keep assist uh which is basically no sense if you're going off the side of the road and that torque assisted steering will help guide your truck back onto the road uh without much effort it'll also decrease driver fatigue um and just help with you know the drivers being pleased overall a great great deal um and then there's some you know some luxury items as well uh so we're putting sears atlas 80 seats uh in all the freightworks trucks which are our are one of our nicest seats if not the nicest seat steering wheels are going to have multi-function steering wheels so you'll be able to control all the bluetooth also control your cruise control and pin points on your steering wheel as well pretty amazing they're all going to have keyless entry they have adaptive cruise control um you know that they're going to be very well very well equipped you know what i can tell david i can tell you have said this before more maybe a time more than more than once but what you need to understand though is that a lot of these things aside from the digital dashboard which is going to be a standard is standard on the 579 a lot of these things are freight work specifics that me and chris you know worked out you know hid headlamps with the fog lamps that are installed um and then there's a couple of other things you know that peterbilt has added onto the new truck with the side fairings being able to pull out dip out which is not something that we've had in the past making a lot easier to work on different things um they've really done a great job on this neutral you know chris let me ask you this because you're really there at the front lines of the inevitable issues that happen with maintenance it doesn't matter what kind of truck it is or where you are i mean weather and the inevitable breakdowns that happen are things that you have to deal with each and every day i thought it'd be appropriate just to talk about what are some of the values that you approach those those issues with and what do you see happening with this fleet upgrade that you think is going to materially benefit the drivers with well hopefully the new trucks uh [ __ ] up right down right david no they don't break not at all right that's what we're all this is recorded for posterity and you've got a release that you're signing so i just wanted to make sure i reminded you of that so we're hoping i would obviously see less breakdowns in the new truck so i mean that's the ultimate goal so um maintenance as the trucks get older maintenance costs just keeps on getting higher now whether you have breakdowns on the road or we're doing repairs in our shop the uh the parts cost and the labor cost just keeps on going higher and higher i mean it just takes longer to service so the goal is to lower that maintenance cost within the new trucks and uh i don't see any reason why we shouldn't see that obviously as everybody knows when it comes to a semi truck i mean you put a lot of miles on a truck so i mean it as all the trucking industry knows it's not like driving your car i mean there are gonna be little tweaks here and there that you're gonna have to adjust as you move along and um every year brings out new um maybe new issues that have to be addressed but um i think it's already proven between us and the peat store that uh we're gonna work through those just fine if they are so hopefully they're not but if they are we're going to work through those we've already been working with our maintenance team on some of our existing trucks different oems and they've proven themselves over actually just the last month to really be aggressive at getting everything back to us in a very timely manner so i don't think we have any issues going forward let me talk very specifically or ask questions very specifically just about the rhythm of your relationship because what you have is you've got great works and you've got peterbilt your separate enterprises but you're finding the common ground where your objectives are being our objectives are being met talk a little bit just about how the two of you relate to each other

that's a very you know what that is that's called setting the volleyball off and you're not quite sure how somebody's gonna spike it but i've watched the way you interact and it's very strong and positive yeah talk about what good comes from this so um i i will say on a on a friendship relational side uh you know we all took the plant tour uh back in i think we determined july um me and chris sat on the plane next to each other uh masked i will say um and we had a great conversation the whole way down and we didn't talk not one thing about trucks we talked about life and we talked about family and we talked about what we like to do and we talked about you know church family and we talked about you know all kinds of things um that is one of the things that i believe uh has kind of um furthered mine and chris's relationship uh and also helped us to be able to talk eye to eye as far as truck stuff goes right um but as far as our business relationship goes chris knows i'll either answer my phone right away or i'll call right back or i'll email right back you know there's not a lot of not a lot of lag time um and i i expect or i don't expect i know the same about chris if i email him or i text him or call him or whatever you know it's pretty much an instant response for the most part um so i feel like just that ability to communicate quickly and efficiently is what has led to you know we have had to make some changes from the you know the original specs and all that kind of stuff but that has flowed very seamlessly for the most part so what would you say chris i would say from a salesman's standpoint um david's been one of the best to work with and i'd say a lot of it is our connection of faith and god uh definitely helps out and then his just honesty and being completely transparent and i think he can say that about me that both of us are very open honest and transparent with each other and so both of us have if you want to call it bosses or you know ones above us and uh obviously we're doing everything we can to uh do what they want and what they want done uh but obviously um we both have our own agendas right from our standpoint and his standpoint and obviously we're like the negotiators almost between the two of okay you know what can we do to negotiate this issue and so when we saw a lot of changes come with the the delay in the peterbilts and the increased price um you know i think it was the relationship that we built over the last nine months that really uh proved itself at that point because uh it was a few tough decisions to make uh and it was nothing that was out of everything was out of our control i mean there's nothing that we could do about it um but it definitely proved itself at that point you know the honesty the transparency and we're able to work through it and um you know we have a first truck built tomorrow and we're pretty happy about that and that's the fruit you know and it's so exciting the drivers obviously are starting to get the word out that the trucks are coming i would say the anticipation is off the charts at this point can you both forecast what the coming year will look like as best you can determine knowing that there are variables that are outside of anybody's control knowing that there have been delays that have been accounted for and things that you just can't change at this point what do you see 2022 looking like in terms of the freightworks upgrade complete upgrade so i can tell you just from looking at build schedules um that we are looking around 25 trucks just in the first quarter um and this broadcast is happening on january 6th yep later but right so the first trucks being built tomorrow and then there's a whole host of more trucks being built uh first into january first part of february um and then march as well so uh you know 25 trucks and then judging by what i have seen which the the thing is right now is that you know peterbilt and every other oe we are on allocation uh so they're having to take everything really a month by month basis so we're not really seeing the whole picture um and so you know i i mean i would guesstimate we're try trying to get somewhere between seven and ten trucks a month roughly you know kind of until we hit that 75 and then um hopefully somewhere sprinkled in there there'll be a conversation of you know additional trucks um so i think what you did is you just pre-called that you're gonna have a sales oriented conversation well i think we've had it we've already had it yeah maybe we're waiting on peterbilt the manufacturer side of things i think the purpose that so he talked about build schedule so i think from the time a truck's built to the time we actually received the truck and that the truck's ready to hit the road i'm we're probably talking four to five weeks yeah talk about what has to happen in that four to five build date is the time that the truck actually gets built and rolls off the assembly line um so we're looking at 12 to 14 days after that before it actually gets delivered to david's store in south carolina how did they come do they come in a group do they come in a little convoy a lot of times they'll come what's called decked so it'll be one truck pulling four total trucks so it'll have three trucks kind of debt on the back of it um they've they've you know everybody's having driver issues uh as far as driver shortages um even even our delivery uh delivery company so um a lot of times right now you're seeing single trucks you know show up um but most of the time they'll come decked yeah so they show up at your dealership correct and then i think it goes through a process of your dealership there's a few add-on items that maybe we haven't discussed grill guards for the front a few smaller items that they're going to have to install at their facility uh they'll check it over then we'll get them up to our facility and then we're going to be adding some other additional items at our facility and then what would be an example of additional items so we're going to be adding apus auxiliary power units on all the units so we'll definitely be installing that at our facility uh we'll be installing an auto inflation system on the truck obviously the graphics to demonstrate its freight works and i guess on a side note we're working on um seeing what image we can do or maybe newer image for freight works on the graphics side of things so i'll be looking forward to seeing what that has to uh offer and uh installing an eld unit obviously and then the truck should be already hit the road so so there's a lot that happens from the point it rolls off and denton to when it actually has a driver for freight works taking it on a a trip i'd say a lot more happens yeah i mean there's a lot of pieces that have to come together obviously uh there's been a lot of work just to get to this point obviously there's a lot more pieces that have to come together between their dealership and our side to actually get everything in place so that we're ready to uh get everything installed and there's no lag time so we can get it right now now david let me ask you this do comp some companies do something special when the first truck rolls off the line


appropriate to our values and and what we as a a a company uh are i it would be a a point of really a blessing i mean we'd be grateful to god that the partnership has yielded all of this and so uh maybe it's the case that josh is able to drive it off or i i don't know we'll have to get a hold of all that i guess we will have that conversation okay now let me let me ask as we come towards the end here just a couple of other things what is the nature of relationships like this over time i mean is this the kind of thing where the presumption would be we'd have conversations about more trucks and you know a commitment over time to keep the fleet age at a place where we want it to be competitive for drivers and the like chris why don't you start with that and then david you pick up so our goal is to first swap out the entire fleet with new trucks so we're just starting with 75 most of those are going to be replacements there are going to be some additional trucks that will get added but obviously we're going to continue this process going forward until everything gets swapped over to new trucks now the hope and the the desire for both of us is that the peterbilts are going to work out well for us and we can continue with peterbilts uh and so that we have one make one model of truck to deal with uh as we've discussed before having multiple makes and models just makes it difficult on the maintenance side of things so once we get the entire fleet swapped over then it's going to be a continual process of swapping the new peterbilts once they reach the age limit uh look in the four-year 500 000 mile mark when the warranty before the warranty runs out to be able to swap those out so obviously we probably won't be placing large orders like we're placing now unless josh decides to keep on adding to the fleet so be smaller but it'll be a continual work on swapping out older uh units for newer units yeah so it never stops i mean you're always because a truck within three or four years you can put a lot of miles on especially if you're running a team i mean it'll be less than that so it's something that uh will be on my plate to keep a watch on that we don't want to go over that uh the warranty so and david from your perspective these kinds of relationships what do they look like over time so there's a uh there's there's really what we call a sweet spot in the trucking industry where uh you know the maximum value of the truck once it hits a certain amount of miles um and the warranty and everything kind of comes right together and that and that is about 500 000 right so um you know your used truck value is that four years or it depends it depends like chris said if it's a team driver it could be two years uh but a lot of times they they you know what what typically we see is they'll run a team for a year you know mile it up to 200 250 000 and then run it as a regional truck with a single driver and then kind of wait out that warranty period and then once it gets right at right under 500 000 where you still have warranty on it that's the key and the used truck value is where it's going to be maximized um because once it hits over 600 they they do tend to take a dip and then 700 then a million um you know that that's kind of where you look at starting to turn some stuff over right so um in a perfect world you know we would swap everything over to peterbilts and then eventually we'd get to a somewhere between a 10 to 20 truck a year rollover type thing while i've got you and with just a couple of minutes left talk a little bit about what are trucks going to be like three years from now even oh well just given the pace of change so what i can say is that peterbilt um has formed a relationship with aurora uh which is a uh self-driving truck that is on the horizon whether people want to admit it or talk about it or not so driverless you know autonomous type stuff maybe having drivers but still using technology that are being used in cars and automotive right now which is um you know type the lane keep assist type stuff is a real thing and now we're already seeing it on trucks um so i think the you know digital dashes and all that kind of stuff everything that you're seeing in the automotive marketplace right now is something that i feel uh you'll see start to kind of weave its way into the trucking industry in the next three to five years chris what would you add to that

i can't add maybe a whole lot more than david's already added uh the only thing i could probably add to it is um i was at a show two years ago when um they were marketing the mirrorless truck and i thought to myself oh yeah that's you know a great idea i didn't give it much attention we're not there yet and um and now we're here uh so i mean it happened a lot faster than i thought uh autonomous truck i've kind of thought the same way i still think it has a little long ways to go before it's completely autonomous uh so i don't think we're quite going to be that fast as far as within two years but uh obviously things are moving fairly rapidly well and you know i look at my father was a pilot a long time ago but i have a number of friends that are pilots and you look at the joystick that controls an airbus that is massive and the realization they can take off and land by themselves and took a lot of acceptance in the industry for pilots and others to take hold of that so we know change is happening but it seems like peterbilt is a company that's always looking up around the corner is that true that they are they are they're always always up and up past the curve um take example uh you know their ev trucks you know we're already producing not just one ev truck like other oes but multiple ev trucks and putting them on the road these are all these are real on the road trucks um and they're they're taking that very seriously so yeah that's another another kind of angle that they're taking um that they are way ahead of the curb on technology and things like that and chris you've known josh much much longer than i have but to say that josh is somebody that thinks outside the box and is innovative is pretty truthful totally agree yeah and in his own quiet inimitable way chris is confirming that that is true well you know what we're coming to the end of our time here and you have a little presentation that you want to make to chris we already made one on podcast episode one to you so you've got something you want to give to chris and what i've learned is somebody totally outside of trucking people love the swag stuff they love caps and keychains and trucks and all that right if you don't wear it right yeah even if you don't wear it so um yeah i've actually got for uh for you and and for josh um and and our good friend tony um i've got you some some nice peterbilt north face jackets um that i would display but they're in my truck um and we also have got uh i've got an entire uh fleet of hats um that are being custom made for you guys uh with freightworks logos that should be here i'd say within the next uh month or so would be a guess so i definitely appreciate it i'm just super happy to be doing business with you guys really am we have loved the opportunity to have david with us uh from peterbilt in episode number one we talked about his background the role that he plays uh the engagement with freightworks chris davies of course is the fleet manager here at freightworks i'm butch malpe the host for this program and you know the thing more than anything that came out of episode one and episode two is it's very consistent with the american dream entrepreneurship enterprise working together and as freightworks and peterbilt have come together we only anticipate you know as we're prayerful and do things the right way incredible days ahead both for you as our partner and for freightworks which is trying to keep the freight rolling each and every day so it's been a joy to have you chris have you on two episodes dave and we look forward to having you back soon and we love it when you bring stuff it's been a pleasure this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks i'm butch malte if you've not subscribed to the youtube channel please click that button push this out to other people as we try to bring you the colorful sometimes chaotic world of american trucking


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