It’s Always Good at Hood
Each month NPTC President and CEO Gary Petty writes a column in Fleet Owner magazine that focuses on the individuals, companies, best practices, and resources that make private trucking the force that it is in the American economy. Reaching more than 100,000 subscribers, three-quarters of whom are private fleet professionals, this column provides an excellent forum to communicate the value of the private fleet. Click here to view the archive.
Gary Petty | firstname.lastname@example.org | Private Fleet Editor for FleetOwner Magazine
Gary Petty has more than 30 years of experience as CEO of national trade associations in the trucking industry. He has been the president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council since 2001.
Driver and equipment standards are as high as product standards.
It is rare these days to find a company in America still operating after 160 years, and even more rare for one to still be independently owned and operated as a family business. But such are the unique credentials of the special and highly successful dairy company known as HP Hood.
Founded in 1846 by Harvey Perley Hood, the company is headquartered in Lynnfield, MA. Hood was the first dairy in America to transport milk by rail and the first to use glass bottled milk. In 1896, the company introduced pasteurization and delivered dairy products to customers with an old-fashioned “private fleet” of horses and wagons.
HP Hood LLC, which is the privately held business now owned by the Kaneb family, is a national company that manufactures and distributes dairy products throughout the United States. The company has over 3,000 employees and about $2 billion in annual revenues. In 2009, Hood launched a new “Always Good, Always Hood” tag line, promoting the superior freshness, taste and quality of Hood Milk.
Hood produces a variety of branded, private label, extended shelf life dairy, frozen desserts, non-dairy, and high protein drinks. Hood’s drivers operate to exceptional and demanding standards every day—just as the company products are of the highest quality. Hood-branded lines of milk, cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, and sour cream regularly rank among the top branded dairy products in New England. As one of the country’s largest and oldest dairy businesses of its kind, Hood has 15 manufacturing plants throughout the U.S. and has a substantial and successful private fleet operation.
Today, Hood’s modern private fleet consists of 300 power units (both owned and leased) and close to 600 CDL drivers. Depending on products hauled, drivers make several stops per day—ranging from two to three to up to 20—to retail and wholesale customers through a network of DCs and depots.
Equipment consists of dual-axle and single-axle tractors; 35-ft. pup trailers and 48-ft. van trailers; bulk tankers; 10-wheel straight trucks; and some light-duty vehicles such as pickup trucks and cargo vans. “Our private fleet plays a huge part in the company’s quality formula,” says Dave Crowley, senior environmental health and safety director and a 14-year company employee. “We have the good fortune of having a team of long-term drivers whose average employment with Hood is 18-20 years. A company as old as Hood makes longevity of service a tradition.”
Hood’s private fleet performs about 60% of the company’s transportation requirements and the rest are handled by contract haulers. Electronic onboard recording technology was introduced six years ago and has proven to be an excellent investment. According to Peter Smith, Hood’s fleet equipment manager, “Hood has 100% of our trucks using the onboard systems and find it an invaluable means of tracking and scorecarding drivers in key metrics like miles per gallon and safe driving practices.”
Hood emphasizes the importance of pretrip and post-trip inspections every chance it gets. “Our vehicle inspection process is vitally important,” Smith states. “Our drivers actively participate in the driver’s vehicle inspection report process to ensure equipment that rolls on public roads is safe.”