I met Mark Heggestad a few years ago. Mark had a focus on being more efficient while pulling an aerodynamic nightmare. Many people would have given up on fuel mileage delivering the type of freight Mark transports. Below is his story in his words... take it away Mark
My pursuit started when I was attending the Mid America Truck show in Louisville, KY in 2016. I was talking to a gentleman about a business class Freightliner he was driving. It was a single drive axle setup he was using to haul trailers and vehicles. The individual was discussing with me about how happy he was with his fuel mileage that he was obtaining with his setup. I don't recall if he was running a DD13 or DD15, nor his gear ratio, but I do remember how happy he was with the DT12 automated transmission! He stated he was getting 9-11 miles per gallon consistently, which got me thinking about ways to reduce my operating costs.
Since my entrance into this industry about 15 years ago, I have learned many things about ways to increase profits, as well as ways to cut costs. The most important thing I learned, was knowing what my operating costs are, to be more profitable and successful. While figuring out my expenses, I was able to see what my fuel cost was, as well as other essential costs with my business. Seeing these numbers really got me into thinking about ways to cut my expenses. So, I began communicating more with my peers, salespeople, experts, and doing a little research about ways to make adjustments. I'd always dreamed about owning a new truck, but I still had a fear of the significant payments of owning a new truck.
Thankfully with taking some time to stop at a branch dealership, of another location that I was beginning to build a relationship with, at a different place that I was using routinely to perform my service work at, I came across an article about a gentleman that was getting great fuel mileage numbers pulling flatbed freight. After reading this article at Harrisons Truck Centers, I began to start thinking more about a new truck. As time passed by, doing some homework on costs for fuel and maintenance, I kept thinking about this article about Joel Boelman, and Henry Albert, in regards to Joel's success in improving his fuel mileage. I again attended the Mid America Truck Show in Louisville, KY in 2017. I was walking around on the final day of the show and I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet Henry Albert, Team Run Smart Pro. What an experience this was, to say the least. During this meeting, not only did he highlight the ways that I could see some improvements from my current setup, but he also connected me with Joel, and also the valuable information that Team Run Smart offers to this industry. This moment was the beginning of a life changing event for my business. Especially after visiting with Henry, and looking at the specs of his truck. I left the show knowing I needed to do something different, but also knew I had some homework to do. At this time I was operating a 2009 Freightliner Cascadia, with a DD15 505HP, a 10-speed ultrashift automated transmission, with 3.42 rears, 231" wheelbase, with 22.5 lo-pros, mid-roof. I was getting between 5.5 to 6.25mpg running 65-68 mph pulling a step deck. This always seemed fine, as this was what I was accustomed to in the flatbed industry. I started to put a pencil to the numbers on paper using my current average fuel economy, the potential numbers of 7 and 8 mpg, as well as maintenance costs, and truck payments using a model amortization schedule. While I was doing the numbers, I began to realize that a new purchase was possible, but still was not a 100% certain, so yes, I admit I was still a little hesitant.
The final determining factor came while the dealership I was using, Harrison Truck Centers in Fairmont, MN was performing some major repairs on my 2009 Cascadia. I was offered the opportunity to use a 2018 Cascadia, new body style, with the new complete aerodynamics package available, equipped with a DD15 400HP downsped engine, 1750ft/lbs of torque, with a DT 12 automated transmission, 2.85 rears, lo-pro 22.5, in a condo roof style. I took my sales representative Paul Phillip up on the offer, as I was always discussing with him about ways to try one, to see what kind of performance results I could achieve with this setup. It turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in this business. I proceeded to take a trip to Eastern Pennsylvania, with a load pulling my regular outbound freight, and reloaded in Akron, Ohio with a load of shingles back into Minneapolis. I completed this trip with limited knowledge of the technological tools available on the new Cascadia. I was totally amazed with the results, as I averaged 8.22 mpg with this test run. This trip was done during August of 2017. I was immediately sold on the new Cascadia, and the latest technology. I did have several conversations with Henry and Joel during this trip, about how to utilize the new technology, which was a plus. I immediately began the process of doing calculations of my potential operating costs versus current costs. I soon realized, I only needed to see an improvement of 1 mpg increase to justify the purchase, without changing my current lifestyle.
March 2018, I finally pulled the trigger on the order of my new 2019 Cascadia, equipped with a DD15 400HP downsped engine, 1750ft/lbs. of torque, DT 12 automated transmission, with 2.16 rear axle with active lube managment, 241 wheelbase, lo-pro 22.5, in a 6x4 setup. I took delivery of my new truck, the last week of November 2018. I currently have 37803 miles, with a lifetime average based on fuel gauges data of 7.1 mpg, an improvement of 1.4 mpg over my last truck. In the last 45 days, I have had 4 fuel-ups of 8 plus mpg. The previous fuel up I achieved 8.71 mpg. My 2009 Cascadia fuel economy in 2018 ended up at 5.68 mpg. I am very impressed with the results, so far, as I look forward to even better results soon. Mission accomplished. So, I would like to take an opportunity to say a special thank you to Henry with Team Run Smart, Paul from Harrison Truck Centers, and good friend Joel for their expertise during the decision making of my purchase.