AmeriGas prototype goes the ‘extra distance’
Jay Massey, Corporate Fleet Vehicle Manager for AmeriGas Propane, has been doing business with Mickey Truck Bodies since 2000. Over that time, he says, “It’s been my experience that the Mickey people always go the extra distance to make their customers happy, and that’s what sets them apart from the competition.”
Case in point, that “extra distance” covered a recent trip from Mickey’s High Point, NC manufacturing complex to the AmeriGas corporate HQ in King of Prussia, PA to showcase a newly designed prototype truck body in front of about 35 AmeriGas execs, including CEO Jerry Sheridan. From there, the new unit traveled the distance to Harrisburg, IL, where it is being road tested under the direction of AmeriGas District Manager Bill DePriest.
The prototype side load body is the joint brainchild of Jay and his fleet team; Gary Remley, Mickey’s Northeast Regional Manager; and Mickey engineers. “We’re fortunate to have Mickey as a strategic partner who’s always willing to work with us on new ideas and designs for the betterment of our productive environments,” Jay points out.
The “new ideas” on this particular unit include an innovative electronic door on the wheelhouse bays; underbody mounted steps; a rear cart rack; and a front rack for hand trucks, among others.
According to Bill, the AmeriGas DM, “The feature our drivers are probably most excited about are the underbody mounted steps.” On previous units the steps were mounted inside the bay, which made the load as much as 6 inches higher for the driver to access. “Now that the steps, which are no problem to pull out, are underneath the body, the working area has been lowered by that much, which makes it easier to get to the product,” he says. “That saves a lot of reaching for our drivers over the span of a day, especially considering our cylinders are stacked four high.”
Another “big plus” on the new unit are the front and the back cart racks, Bill points out. “With this truck, we don’t have to put a cart in one the bays – usually where the E-Door is now, above the wheel. Having the racks on the outside of the truck is so much better.” The rear cart rack on the prototype body features a redesigned winch that was well received by the AmeriGas audience in King of Prussia for its smooth and quiet operation.
Even the addition of the “Chock Block” rack, attached to the front of the body directly behind the driver, has met with a “very positive” reception in Harrisburg. (It’s an AmeriGas policy for drivers to place “Chock Blocks” behind the front tires of every propane delivery vehicle while it is parked to prevent the truck for rolling.) In the past, the blocks were stored in the front bay, which meant the driver had to open and close the bay door twice per stop to retrieve and replace the blocks. “The outside rack saves a lot of time and effort for the driver,” Bill explains.
As for the new E-Door, perhaps the most heralded of the new features, Bill says it “works great,” and figures it will get plenty of use once the grilling season heats up in May. For the time being his drivers are using it mainly to store banners and other P.O.S. materials.
“I am still engaging in conversations about how great that truck looked and how impressed our team at headquarters was with the way we thought through the design,” notes Jay. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the entire Mickey organization.”