Chip Edwards, Rudolph Freight Inc. Operations Manager
As fast as the world moves – ever-evolving technology, continuous communication, and a freight supply-demand balance reaching the highest reading ever recorded by ACT Research—it’s important to remember that there are some things that will never change. For Rudolph Freight Inc., a truckload provider servicing 48 states with a fleet of 400 trailers, building lasting relationships by providing reliable, high-quality service has been its focus since the company was started in 1988 in Murray, Kentucky, and continues to be its guiding principle.
“If our customers are succeeding, we all win,” said Chip Edwards, Rudolph Freight Inc.’s operations manager. And when Chip says “customer” he means everyone Rudolph Freight works with—from its shipper clients to its contract drivers. “It’s a challenge to work to meet everyone’s needs. What works best for us is doing what we say we’re going to do.”
When it comes to owner/operators, that means helping them with everything from getting more home time to improving their fuel efficiency. On the shipper side of the business, fielding trailers that meet or exceed client expectations in terms of spec and reliability goes a long way in growing Rudolph Freight’s business. Great Dane’s lineup of Champion dry vans helps Rudolph Freight check all those boxes.
To maximize volume, Rudolph Freight looks to spec the strongest trailer at the lightest weight possible. “Weight plays a big role with shippers hauling heavier loads. We have to make sure we are able to move that volume,” Chip explained. In addition to the standard width and height requirements from his clients, solid wood floors and air ride suspensions were also big selling points. And that went for the company’s contract drivers as well.
“Our drivers talk about how air ride suspensions pull and ride better,” he said. “They aren’t as tired after a 10-hour day.”
To help its drivers improve their fuel efficiency and hopefully put money they’d spend on fuel back into their pockets, Rudolph Freight spec’d aerodynamic side skirt fairings on its most recent trailer order. “Those have made an impact for lot of our drivers—especially the ones who pay attention to their MPG.”
Avoiding downtime is also a big trailer-buying focus, but Chip knows that life on the road is tough and unplanned service events happen. To provide peace of mind for when a trailer does need service, he has joined Great Dane’s National Aftermarket Parts and Service Program, AdvantEDGE. Wherever the down trailer is located, with just one call he is connected to one of the nationwide authorized service locations for service right away.
“When we have an issue, Great Dane is always there,” Chip said. “It’s rare, especially these days, to have people standing behind their products the way Great Dane does. We value having a relationship like that.”
With relationships being the big focus for Rudolph Freight, Chip is keen to keep an eye open for technology that will help him run an even better operation. He’s currently testing Great Dane’s FleetPulse on five of his trailers. FleetPulse is a data-driven solution that uses propriety information on trailer specifications and design to help you know when to perform maintenance. Chip hopes to see how the trailer telematics system can help him track trailers and potentially reduce the company’s maintenance spend.
“We’re still in the early stages of seeing what is possible,” he said. “If we’re able to get a notification about a failure or even a future maintenance event, then we have a better chance of getting it into a Great Dane dealer and making sure we have the parts to fix it. If you have failure at a truck stop or on the road, that trailer is down days—waiting on parts while the freight is on the trailer. It goes on and on. If there’s a way for telematics to alert of us a problem that will allow us to reduce downtime that’s a win.”
It’s a win for Rudolph Freight, it’s a win for its customers, and it’s a win for its drivers. Whether its buying trailers, leveraging technology or simply doing the best by the people they work with, Rudolph Freight’s focus on relationship will keep them in the game for the long haul.