By Jim Sweeney
Team Elmer’s, Traverse City, Michigan, does a little bit of everything in the state: hauling asphalt, stone and aggregate; excavation; cranes and rigging; heavy hauling; snow removal; site restoration; and more. The contractor has its Traverse City headquarters, 11 offices throughout the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, and three other locations where it stores and loads aggregate. Naturally, the company needs a versatile truck fleet. Management began a changeover four years ago when Grand Traverse Diesel Service, a Western Star dealer next door to Team Elmer’s headquarters, persuaded President Troy Broad to buy a single Western Star 4900 SB, and test it against the make he was buying.
“We were looking for a 0.1 mile per gallon increase,” Broad said. The 4900 SB instead delivered a 0.6 mpg increase during a trial and that, coupled with improved reliability, was good enough for the company to switch to Western Star.
Western Star trucks are now half of Team Elmer’s 92-truck fleet, and the share is growing as the company replaces eight to 10 trucks each year. Broad said the company has been impressed by the Detroit™ DD16® engine, which delivers up to 600 horsepower. That power is needed to pull Team Elmer’s “Michigan Specials,” which are extra-heavy combos with GVW of 164,000 pounds—the maximum the state allows without special permits and the highest in the nation.
Team Elmer’s also hauls oversize equipment loads at times with a GVW of up to 200,000 pounds with special use permits.
The company specs 4900 SBs with DD16 engines, 18-speed Eaton Fuller transmissions, and 3:90 to 4:10 gear ratios. It also orders double-insulated cabs with top-of-the-line interiors.
Drivers who were at first reluctant to switch manufacturers have embraced the Western Star trucks, as have the fleet mechanics. “They’re absolutely easy to work on,” Broad said. “And our service intervals have gotten longer.”
While much of the travel is short mileage for delivery construction sites, the Western Star 4900s also perform well on longer runs, Broad said.
Celebrate 60 Years
Team Elmer’s is celebrating its 60th anniversary all year in 2016. Its monthly newsletter features a project from the history of the company in each edition; its e-news update highlights behind-the-scenes project education every three weeks. The company recently assisted in the dedication of the new Mini-Mac Exhibit at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. It’s a banner year for this heavy-hauling company.