When one of the first Kenworth W990s rolled up to the headquarters of Keim TS, a transportation services provider specializing in flatbed and dry van cargo, there were nothing but smiles across the faces of drivers and office staff.
“Everyone was so excited when the Kenworth W990 first arrived on-site,” said Stan Keim, owner of Keim TS in Sabetha, Kansas. “When Jeff McQuillan, Fleet Salesman at MHC Kenworth – Kansas City, told me that I’d have the opportunity to be one of the first customers to purchase a pre-production Kenworth W990, all I needed was Jeff’s word and a few photos before I was sold. I ended up going down to Las Vegas for the W990 unveiling event in September and I was very impressed. The W990 is a great looking truck. It created quite the buzz around the company in knowing that we’d be one of the first companies to own the truck. Our drivers could hardly wait.”
The W990 Keim purchased is a fully-loaded 76-inch mid-roof sleeper with the W990 Limited Edition interior and Driver’s Studio package. Since receiving the W990 at the end of 2018, the W990 has traveled more than 12,000 miles. The lucky driver? Ralph Cowan, an 8-year veteran Keim TS driver, who operates from the company’s terminal in Jasper, Tennessee.
“You could tell by the look on Ralph’s face how happy he was to be our first driver to operate the W990,” said Keim. “The W990 hasn’t been out on the road for very long, but he said he’s had many drivers approach him at truck stops asking if they could take a look inside the cab.”
This isn’t the first time Keim TS has been one of the first companies to own a new driver-focused Kenworth model. Back in 2015, Keim TS was the first company to purchase the Kenworth ICON 900 Limited Edition. At the time, the fleet mostly was comprised of Kenworth trucks. Today, the Keim TS fleet of 206 trucks are all Kenworths, with 162 T680s, 42 T880s, one ICON 900, and for right now, one W990. Forty-two more W990s are on order.
“Kenworth simply provides us with trucks to do our job as efficiently as possible,” said Keim. “We utilize our aerodynamic T680s for our long-haul flatbed deliveries, which make up a majority of our business. We prefer our Kenworth T880s for more regional and in-city deliveries. We no longer run our ICON 900, but we love to show it off at truck shows, parades and for driver recruitment purposes.”
For Keim, truck efficiency and driver retention is key to running a successful fleet. Keim and his drivers have always appreciated the look of the long-hood. While giving his drivers the classic long-hood with the W990, Keim said he believes the fleet also will get an enhanced fuel economy return compared to the W900 – a key factor in his decision to purchase W990s.
“In the flatbed business, we haul freight that isn’t nearly as aerodynamic as the dry vans, so it’s important to us to run trucks that are the most fuel-efficient in the industry. The W990’s more aerodynamic body, complemented by the classic long-hood look, is the best of both worlds. Our drivers are so excited for the rest of our W990s to arrive,” he said.
Keim’s longest tenured drivers will receive the W990s as part of the company’s driver rewards program. The W990s on order will be spec’d the same as the pre-production model Keim purchased, and selected drivers will have the opportunity to choose the paint color and graphics – a way to personalize each truck.
Typically, Keim trades in all of his trucks after two to three years of service, however, that may change with the W990.
“I like to run the newest equipment on the market, plus drivers love to drive brand-new trucks,” said Keim. “By trading out our equipment every few years, we are able to keep driver turnover low as well as attract new drivers. Our drivers love Kenworth trucks, and at the end of the day we get great resale value. My prediction is that the W990 will be quite popular, so I can see us running the trucks a few more years so that we don’t have to wait for another order to arrive.”
Within the year, Keim TS is expecting to open a new terminal at a location just south of Kansas City, as a way to keep up with growing market demands. The new terminal is located just off of I-35, just south of metro Kansas City and six miles from a major rail yard.
“We expect to see quite a bit of added long-haul and regional freight deliveries coming in from our new terminal,” said Keim. “To keep up, we’ll be growing our fleet and recruiting new drivers. In addition to the 42 W990s we purchased, we also added 30 T680s.
“On average, 4,500 trucks a day travel on the highway that will pass our terminal. Can you guess what trucks we will have parked out front? The Kenworth W990. I don’t think we will have an issue recruiting drivers.”
Keim TS’s loyalty to Kenworth is deep-rooted, dating back to the days when Stan Keim’s parents Glen and DeAnn began purchasing Kenworth trucks from founder of MHC Kenworth, Ken Hoffman. While Hoffman has passed on the torch, he and the Keim family remain close.
“I’ve known and worked with Ken for a long time, and we’ve become close friends in the process,” said Keim. “Jeff McQuillan is now the salesman I work with at MHC – Kansas City and he has been nothing short of great to work with. A few years back I told him I was going to purchase a few non-Kenworth trucks to see how they would perform. Let’s just say that experiment was a mistake, and it won’t happen again. You can’t beat the quality and performance of a Kenworth.”
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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.