Growing Together

“The Monster.” That’s what Fabri-Kal’s original seven shareholders affectionately called their first major equipment purchase when the company incorporated in 1950 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a multi-faceted machine that produced paint cups for the paint-by-number industry. Other pieces of equipment with equally interesting nicknames came afterward as Fabri-Kal grew its plastic container business and set its sights on becoming the leader in the food packaging industry that it is today. What it didn’t set out to be was a leader in the transportation industry — and that’s where Penske Truck Leasing comes in.

Fabri-Kal partnered with Penske in 1994 and hasn’t owned a piece of power equipment since. Fabri-Kal works closely with Penske in spec’ing its equipment and depends on Penske to maintain and service the Great Dane trailers that keep Fabri-Kal’s product moving.

For Fabri-Kal, durability is the biggest bullet point when transporting its food packaging products, and Fabri-Kal and Penske put their heads together to craft tough, time-tested trailers. Fabri-Kal and Penske thought outside-the-box (no pun intended) to craft a trailer spec that more closely falls in line with a paper products, heavy-haul spec. The reason? Durability. Inside the trailer, Fabri-Kal taps Great Dane’s Single Side Laminate (SSL) interior wall lining panels, which are made from extremely durable galvalume steel that will not rust and is wrapped around a solid core then fastened to the logistic posts achieving an inside width of just over 100 inches.

“We have extremely high food safety standards and these trailers help us maintain that,” said Alan Hart, Fabri-Kal’s Corporate Logistics Manager. “Wood inside the trailers tends to break and splinter. The splinters become potential contamination and the holes in the walls allow for pest harborage. The SSL prevents both of those issues for us.”

When it came to custom specs that weren’t on the standard build sheet, Great Dane was quick to offer solutions and recommendations to meet Fabri-Kal’s application needs.

It’s one thing to spec a trailer, but it’s another to maximize uptime and productivity. Penske can’t afford to have equipment rolling into its shops for minor service issues. If Fabri-Kal has a truck or trailer down, Penske is responsible for getting that piece of equipment up and running and the load delivered. While Penske offers 24/7 roadside assistance with more than 700 service locations, it knows that spec’ing durable, reliable equipment can help to avoid unplanned service situations.

“We appreciate the solutions Great Dane provides to help us meet customer needs and that meet our high standards for quality,” said Paul Rosa, senior vice president of procurement and fleet planning at Penske Truck Leasing.

As Fabri-Kal continues to grow, the company works with Penske to incorporate cost-saving trailer technology as part of its Lean Initiative to drive efficiency within its operations, which includes being a SmartWay Transportation Partner since 2008. Fabri-Kal and Penske have been working with Great Dane to make automatic tire inflation systems a mandatory trailer spec and they are investing in aerodynamic undercarriage fairings (e.g. side skirts) to make sure that Fabri-Kal’s products are delivered on time and as efficiently as possible.


No Shortage of Drivers

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a not-for-profit trucking industry research institute, recently unveiled its top ten industry issues report, headed by the driver shortage in the top spot. Yet, if you were to look at the tenure of Fabri-Kal’s contract drivers, you’d see that many of them have been with the company for nearly 20 years. Penske Truck Leasing plays into part of Fabri-Kal’s driver retention plan, offering its drivers new, more efficient and dependable equipment. The other part of Fabri-Kal’s driver retention success is Fleet Manager Dionne Buffington who works diligently to make sure that deliveries are made on time and that drivers’ routes and schedules are flexible so that they are home for important family events such as anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and even doctor’s appointments.