Smart Spec’ing Pays Off for Alabama Auto Hauler

New auto haulers offer rugged components, distinctive quality

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Scott Carter knows what he’s looking for in a truck. And that pays off when he’s buying new equipment to meet the demanding on-highway needs of auto hauler Alaplex Transportation in Birmingham, Ala.

“Our trucks run throughout the United States every day, and a typical trip for a driver lasts three weeks. So, it’s important to get new trucks spec’d correctly from the start,” said Carter.

Twenty-five years ago, Alaplex started out in dry van freight. Now an exclusive, experienced auto hauler, Alaplex hauls to locations throughout the contiguous 48 states.

As maintenance manager, Carter works with owners William Emanuel and Norm King to assess Alaplex’s equipment needs.

“With almost 100 trucks in our fleet, we’ve had plenty of experience with auto haulers to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Carter.

In September 2005, when Carter started the process of purchasing 10 new auto haulers, he turned to Peach State Truck Center in Norcross, Ga.

“We found that other manufacturers didn’t want to build equipment with the specs we needed. Western Star had the rugged features, distinctive quality and driver comfort we were looking for—that’s what sold us,” said Carter.

The dealership committed to Carter and Alaplex by spending a year and a half on the sales and spec’ing process, which included a trip to the Western Star plant in Portland, Ore., to show Carter how Western Star trucks are made. The trip included a focused presentation about the quality and safety of Western Star trucks, as well as a personal tour of the plant to see the handmade workmanship that goes into every truck.

“If all potential customers made a trip to the plant, seeing the quality put into the trucks would sell them every time,” Carter said, noting Western Star’s excellent teams of employees and attention to customer service—two attributes held in high esteem by Alaplex.

Carter ordered 10 2007 Western Star 4900 FAs – nine with 62-inch Ultra Low Roof sleepers and one with a 48-inch Ultra Low Roof sleeper to provide comfortable amenities for the drivers. All 10 123-inch BBC trucks are equipped with Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, aluminum wheels, accent light packages and stainless steel exterior sun visors.

“We ordered the trucks from the factory and did not have to modify them to add the auto hauler. They were ready to have a head ramp installed and go to work right off the line,” said Carter.

The 2007 Western Star 4900 FAs haul as many as 10 autos each and are expected to travel about 120,000 miles per year.

“There isn’t a thing I would change about these trucks,” said Carter. “We got exactly what we wanted.”

Since the trucks have been in service at Alaplex, Carter has enjoyed the positive response from the drivers. According to Carter, drivers have especially noted the spaciousness, dependability and ‘dressed up’ look created by the premium exterior styling, Mesa blue expanded vinyl interior and attractive light packages.

“Our Western Star trucks attract and retain experienced auto hauler drivers because they are quality pieces of equipment,” he said. “And our drivers deserve the best in comfort and quality.”

Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Redford, Mich., produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC. Freightliner LLC produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles and is part of DaimlerChrysler’s Truck Group, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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