Why CNG doesn’t work for Daseke’s trucking empire

Why CNG doesn’t work for Daseke’s trucking empire
January 21, 2014 | posted by The Institute

Source: bizjournals.com

By: Nicholas Sakelaris

Compressed natural gas still hasn’t sparked interest from long-haul truck fleets and it’s not just because of a dearth of fueling stations.

There are a number of other reasons Don Daseke, CEO and president of Dallas-based Daseke Inc., hasn’t embraced the technology for his large trucking company subsidiaries.

For one, the tanks required to hold CNG weigh more. That’s a problem for trucks that carry giant loads like Caterpillar tractors, Gulfstream airplane wings and gigantic mining tires, he said.

"If you’ve got more weight because of the weight of the tank, that restricts the weight you can put on the trailer," Daseke explained.

The long-term reliability of these CNG engines is also unknown, he said.

And then consider that some trucking routes are as long as 1,600 miles.

"We’ve explored CNG and it doesn’t really work for long routes that are uneven. We take things a good distance all across the U.S.," Daseke said. "It works better for local deliveries like UPS and FedEx where the trucks go back to the same place every night. Our trucks are all over the place."

Instead, Daseke constantly purchases new trucks for his fleet that are equipped with the latest technology to cut down on fuel costs.

There's been a push in recent years to convert vehicle fleets to CNG because it's cheaper, has fewer emissions and is produced domestically in shale plays like North Texas' Barnett Shale.

Trucking companies that are going CNG include Waco-based Central Freight, which started converting its fleet to 100-percent CNG trucks in 2013.

Dallas-based telecom giant AT&T (NYSE: T) launched a $565 million initiative to convert its entire vehicle fleet to CNG in 2009 with much of that conversion being done at Dallas-based BAF.

Daseke has five different trucking subsidiaries that carry different types of loads, including the Boyd Bros Transportation, which merged with Daseke, along with its subsidiaries, in October.

- Smokey Point Distributing—aviation-related trucking that also carries wide loads

- E.W. Wylie—oil-field cargo delivery and high-value hauls

- J. Grady Randolph—carries special loads throughout America and Canada

- Central Oregon Truck Company—specialty hauling

- Boyd Bros. Transportation—delivers high-volume, time-sensitive loads

- Boyd Bros. itself has four subsidiaries that do everything from hauling building materials, machinery and agricultural equipment to intermodal containers.

Daseke Inc. is in the top five open-deck/specialty carriers in the country in terms of vehicle count and revenue.