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A ‘super’ effort for Kalamazoo beer distributor

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One of the 20-bay I.H.S. trailers refurbished at Mickey’s Midwest Fleet Services Centers.

The U.S. Postal Service pledges that “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Well, add to that promise a Polar Vortex with record temperatures of -15 degrees — not counting wind chill — and you can say the same about the drivers for Kalamazoo, MI-based I.H.S. Distributing. Arguably, I.H.S. drivers had to make their rounds carrying a far more important load during one of the company’s busiest weeks of the year. The 90-year old family-owned beer distributor needed to get its portfolio of brands — Miller, Miller Lite, Shiner and Corona among many others – to its on-premise and retail customers in time for Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, February 3.

The weather was forecast to be the coldest on the Wednesday before the big game, so I.H.S. dispatched its drivers on routes closest to the warehouse to “make shorter runs,” explained Jason Howard, General Manager. If the trucks were out for more than 2 or 3 hours, he said, the beer could freeze. But the bigger concern was for the drivers. “It was brutally cold. We kept the engines running – the vibrations seemed to help – and we brought the trucks back in every couple of hours to reload. We also palletized everything to keep product off the cold metal floors.”

On Thursday the cold was even more severe, and the routes were now longer. I.H.S. put additional people on the trucks to help with the deliveries. “The real story this week was the drivers — they did an amazing job,” says Jason. “Our support staff in the warehouse was fantastic, but the drivers were the big story behind our successful week. It was their hard work and perseverance. Each driver already has a busy route every day. If anything doesn’t get delivered on a certain day, it creates a lot more work the next day, for everybody. And then there are those 8 to 10 weekends out of the year where a lot more beer is consumed – Super Bowl week being one of those. You know retailers want to get their beer just before they are ready to sell it. So, we also have the challenge making just-in-time deliveries.” By Friday afternoon, 2 days before the Patriots met the Rams in Atlanta – every I.H.S. customer was fully stocked with the I.H.S. family of brands.

“The Mickey trucks performed great – no problems with the Mickeys,” Jason says of the 20-bay sideload trailers. “The rollers worked well. The doors worked well.” I.H.S. has been buying Mickey units exclusively since around 1998, and “we’ve never been disappointed. Steve and Mike are a big part of that. [Steve Mason, Mickey’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager, and Mike Parker, Mickey’s Midwest Fleet Services Manager.] “They look at our business from our perspective to understand what we really need. Mike Parker assesses at our trucks from every angle to make sure they operate reliably and safely. We refurbish our trailers with Mickey once or twice every seven to 10 years, and it really extends the life. Mickey understands we need to keep these trucks on the road. Our drivers have it tough enough without worrying about breakdowns.”

Regardless of the weather.

Mickey Engineered Vehicles

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Tom Arland, President

800-334-961

Steve Mason, Midwest Sales

336-210-6133

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Steve McLaughlin, Northeast Fleet Services

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Robert Badely, Southeast Fleet Services

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Mike Parker, Midwest Fleet Services

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Larry Jacobs, High Point Customer Support

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Tim Davis, High Point Media Relations

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