Founded in 2003, CEI is a refrigerated carrier operating over 130 power units with a fleet of 53-foot refrigerated trailers. Aided by top-of-the-line equipment and professional drivers with decades of experience, CEI proudly guarantees that every shipment is efficient, on budget and on time.
The Kenworth T680 makes up 80 percent of the CEI fleet. The company found that the T680 offers superior build quality, excellent fuel economy and outstanding driver comfort. The strong relationship CEI has built with the local MHC Kenworth dealerships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Joplin, Missouri, was also a deciding factor.
“Kenworth and MHC Kenworth do a standup job – they communicate and get you taken care of quickly,” Wade said. “When it comes to ordering equipment, we are not a cookie cutter company where the salespeople at the dealership have an easy job. Everyone involved goes out of their way to make sure specs and every detail is exactly right.”
The company’s latest order of Kenworth T680s features the full PACCAR powertrain, including the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and a 1550/1750 lb-ft multi-torque specification, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and mid-track PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles with a 2.64 ratio.
“There is a world of difference with the PACCAR Powertrain setup when it comes to power and driveability. I average 42,000 pounds per load. It blows my mind how smooth it is,” remarked veteran driver Randy Rogers. “I’m sold on the PACCAR transmission and I won’t go to anything else."
The decision to go with automated transmissions, was based on its benefits in convenience, driveability and improved fuel economy, Wade pointed out. He estimated that there is up to a one mile per gallon fuel economy difference* between the PACCAR automated transmission and a manual transmission. In a team driving situation, he also noted that predictive cruise control can level the performance gaps between the two drivers.
“I don’t need a stick to be a truck driver. All I have to do is get my load from point A to point B safely and on time,” Rogers said. “We’re able to sell people on joining this industry today because, when they ask how in the world you can drive such a big truck, we tell them it’s just like driving your car.”
Rogers, who drives as a team with his wife Elizabeth, had the choice of several trucks when he joined CEI, but experience told him to pick the Kenworth T680.
“I've driven other makes of trucks, and spent more time tightening screws and bolts, and listening to squeaks and squeals than anything else. That is not the case with a Kenworth, and there’s just something special about the Kenworth that retains the classic truck look,” he said. “I like the nice rounded exterior features, and the interiors are very roomy with lots of storage, which makes them very comfortable, especially for a team setup,” Rogers added.
CEI handles a wide range of shipping requests from frozen and live poultry to hauling liquid tankers and 53-ft space-saver trailers. To optimize payload capacity, they want their equipment as lightweight as possible. Key weight-reducing components include the 12.9-liter PACCAR MX-13 engine, aluminum air tanks, aluminum wheels, disc brakes, shortened fifth-wheel and rear wide-base tires.
“Saving 500 to 700 pounds versus traditional specs is a pretty big deal, especially when you can put everything in a package with a trailer, and know you don’t have to worry about being overloaded,” Wade said. “It takes weight out of the equation in our ability to do our job, and it’s one less stress point for the operator behind the wheel.”
Wade is not the kind of company owner that just stays in the office. He’s been involved professionally with the family business for the nearly 30 years – about half of that as a driver. He still buckles in on occasion, and one thing he reports is that the Kenworth T680 offers an exceptionally safe driving experience.
“Kenworth puts a lot of thought into designing their trucks,” Wade said, “from layout of the dash and gauges and improved visibility to safer contact points for entry and exit.
“Having the PACCAR automated transmission is another huge safety benefit,” Wade added, “If you’re driving in an urban environment, and getting ready to make a right or a left hand turn out of a busy intersection, you don’t have to worry about what gear you need to be in to make the corner.”
Wade said the company calls its men and women behind the wheel ambassadors out on the highway. “And, Kenworth is the face of our company going down the road,” Wade said. “We only put our logo on equipment that represents us well. The quality of Kenworth products is exactly what we want.”