Employees of the latest "hidden gem" of Elkhart County business hit the road every day to keep manufacturing going between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
ELKHART — The business featured in the latest installment in the look at “hidden gems” of Elkhart County business could use some help.
It’s not that Pro Fleet needs more customers. In fact, they have to turn customers away, because they need drivers to help keep things moving across much of the country.
Pro Fleet Transport
FOUNDED/WHY it’s HERE
Chris Wood and Kelly Pletcher started the company 20 years ago after coming from Design Time. “They decided there’s a local need here. The figured out the way to do it, make it work,” said Mike Gregory, safety director for the company.
WHAT it Does
A trucking company, Pro Fleet hauls loads on flatbed trailers with a fleet of 40 trucks and handles logistics for customers. It brings in a mixture of building materials to Elkhart County and hauls out components or finished products.
WHERE it Reaches
“We used to say ‘Anything east of the Mississippi,’ but now it’s pretty much anything east of the Rockies,” said Gregory.
While there are many large national trucking companies and many smaller competitors, Pro Fleet has created its own size niche locally.
It tries to buy as much locally as possible. “We don’t want to buy bungee cords made in China. We’d rather buy them from a company that makes them here in Elkhart,” Gregory said. “We’re a community-based company. We want to spend our money here.”
The truck fleet drives roughly 4.8 million miles each year.
Each truck goes through up to $1,795 in fuel per week with diesel approaching $3.90 a gallon. At 40 trucks, that’s more than $3 million per year in fuel costs alone.
A single fill-up of a truck uses more than $800 in fuel, but also gets the truck more than 1,000 miles down the road.
It’s getting harder and harder to find truck drivers as federal regulations get tighter and tighter, even with Pro Fleet paying roughly double what some of the big national companies pay per mile. “We turn down thousands of dollars of freight a week we can’t commit to because we don’t have the drivers,” Gregory said.
It supports a lot of charities and causes, from donating a truck and driver to take supplies to tornado victims to sponsoring the St. Jude telethon to supporting Premier Arts and local sports teams and leagues. “We’re here to support the community like it’s supported us,” Gregory said.
Among the other industries it serves, it bring in raw materials for the RV industry, which turns the material into units delivered by the RV transport industry. “It’s a big circle of life,” Gregory said.
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