Trucks & Parts, with locations in Tampa, FL and Glenmore PA, has bought and reconditioned garbage trucks since the early 1970’s—positioning itself as a forerunner in this tight but growing niche.
Originally, the company dismantled trucks and sold their parts. But they found haulers were disposing of high-dollar, heavy-duty vehicles far before the end of their useful lives.
When Trucks & Parts began reconditioning them, they found the demand was there, and they were fast to corner a new market. Today, 75 percent of its $10 million-vehicle inventory is used refuse trucks. They sell to private and public waste haulers as well as government agencies nationwide.
In this Q&A, Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Goldenberg and managing partners Brion Maguire and Ron Zielin share advice on shopping for a quality, used refuse truck.
WASTE360: When is a used refuse truck a good choice? And what might a company save?
BRION MAGUIRE: There are two primary reasons for acquiring a used truck instead of new. The first is total cost of ownership. If you want to keep trucks for 10 to 15 years, it might make more economic sense to buy used reconditioned trucks which can result in a total savings of $60,000 over the vehicle’s life.
The second reason is that a used or reconditioned vehicle is available now. Buying a new truck requires a lead time of three to six months, which doesn’t work if you have an immediate need for a working truck.
WASTE360: What is one of the first questions to ask the dealer?
BRION MAGUIRE: Ask about documentation on the condition of the truck. Some dealers flip trucks without doing any documented inspection so they don’t know what they are selling you. Trucks are waste haulers’ most expensive asset so you need to know what’s required to get them into working condition so they can produce revenue by collecting trash.
WASTE360: Can you elaborate on Trucks & Part’s inspection process?
BRUCE GOLDENBERG: We have a 210-point inspection, looking at the vehicle from the front bumper to the back bumper and everything in between, starting with cosmetics, then going into mechanical functionality. If a component has less than 50 percent useful wear left, we typically replace it. If anything is a safety issue, it’s repaired or replaced immediately. We document this so the customer knows what we know.
WASTE360: Why do businesses sell used trucks in good condition and of value? How do you maintain an inventory of these trucks?
RON ZIELIN: Most companies manage their fleet replacement schedule by age and many, particularly large companies, only buy new trucks. We leverage our network and relationships to know who is selling and when.
We usually work directly with end users. We also work with dealers when we are looking for a specific piece of equipment for a specific buyer. We ensure they have inspected the truck; that they convey exactly what they know about it; and that they have documentation.
WASTE360: How do you determine a used refuse truck dealer’s credentials?
BRUCE GOLDENBERG: Find out how focused they are on refuse trucks. Dealers dabbling in different types of equipment may not truly understand the product. Look to see that they have a large refuse truck inventory and a history of running a reputable business. This shows experience and knowledge. Ask for a reference from the industry that has bought from them. Inquire about the training and certifications of the mechanics doing the work. And, most importantly, ask for documentation of what they know about the truck!
WASTE360: How do you assess a used truck dealers’ technical expertise?
BRION MAGUIRE: In addition to knowing the training and background of the techs, ask them pointed questions about your needs. If you are looking for a front loader or rear loader, they should ask whether you will use it in a commercial or residential application, as there will be differences such as in the cab configuration and option content.
WASTE360: What features or services would be deemed as extras?
Among common extras are freight and delivery. Some optional functions are a cart tipper, a reever winch and scales.
Many trucks still have existing transferable warranties, though used truck dealers often sell after-market warranties. Some offer training on the truck’s operation. We offer all these options.
WASTE360: What’s most relevant about the truck’s history?
RON ZIELIN: You essentially want to know the vehicle’s operating history. This includes who owned it, where they ran it, and type of collection route.
We target high-demand trucks with fairly low miles and low hours. We search for them from coast to coast and we look to buy from municipalities, and those with routes in low-density populations. Trucks formerly owned by municipalities tend to have less wear as they run on day shifts while private haulers often run trucks around the clock.
Be aware that the truck’s body or engine could have been swapped out. In this case the body could have more miles than the engine, or vice versa, but the odometer reading does not reflect this like an ECU reading does.
To verify history, we run software on the vehicle’s computer for an accurate read out of data such as miles, horsepower and hours to ensure the engine meets performance standards. Dealers should also run a CARFAX to verify a clean title and to determine if a truck has endured flood damage or an accident.
WASTE360: How can haulers ensure a used truck will meet their safety requirements?
RON ZIELIN: Ask if the truck is DOT compliant. If you have your own safety policy, ask if it can be retrofitted with whatever gear you need for your program such as back up cameras, alarms and GPS tracking.
DOT requirements vary by state, but you want to ensure that what you buy is, at a minimum, compliant with federal DOT standards. We know if a truck passes our 210-point inspection it will be DOT compliant in any state.
The most important part of the business is operating safely and that starts with the truck!