Iowa Trucking Company Making An Impact Using Biodiesel
Contract Transport President Allen Bergman has reduced CO2 emissions by 490 metric tons using biodiesel over the past 12 months
Allen Bergman is always innovating. As President of Contract Transport in Des Moines, Iowa, he has refined his business model several times, rebuilt his company after a devastating flood and committed to using biodiesel blends to reduce emissions and costs.
In fact, by utilizing biodiesel, Contract Transport has realized a CO2 reduction of 490 metric tons, equivalent to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of 1.2 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.
Contract Transport is a highway contractor for the U.S. Postal Service. The company has a unique niche in the marketplace as its core business is focused on hauling mail parcels throughout the Midwest.
“One of the things that’s a little different with our business compared to fleets that deliver freight is that we have a real strict schedule. We need to depart and arrive on time,” Bergman said.
Bergman says being focused on the customer, doing the right thing and paying attention to detail is what he feels has made his business successful for nearly 60 years.
Innovation with Biodiesel
Five years ago, Bergman said Contract Transport started using biodiesel and he says that was one of the best decisions he’s made.
“I was interested in biodiesel because of the positive impact on the Iowa economy, cleaner air, and lower-carbon transportation so we tried the B5 blend. I did a lot of research on biodiesel and I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first, but we’ve had no problems with it.” Bergman says that he likes using a cleaner-burning fuel.
“We are reducing the impact on the environment. Using biodiesel is also easier on the engine components too. We routinely get 1 million miles on an engine before a teardown so I think the blends contribute to the longer-living engines.” In fact, Bergman has increased his blend rate to 30%. “Not only does increasing the blend rate help the Iowa economy, but we burn a cleaner fuel. We don’t see a reduction in our miles per gallon and drivers don’t see a difference in power. It’s essentially an identical product to diesel, but better,” he said.
“Biodiesel is saving me money and protects my equipment. I don’t know why you wouldn’t use it,” he said. Bergman praises the quality of biodiesel blends. REG’s Senior Sales Manager, Justin Mease says,
“A lot of people in the industry remember many years back when the quality of biodiesel wasn’t consistent. Biodiesel is now more tested, has stringent specs, and held to the highest production standards in the industry, even more so than regular diesel fuel,” he said.
Bergman said, “I’ve had other business owners call me and ask about using biodiesel for their operation. I tell them I’ve had close to zero problems and have never had an issue with the quality of the fuel. Quality is important. If a truck and driver go down, we’re in trouble. That’s why I need to be using the best fuel available and that’s why I use biodiesel.”
Bergman says he works closely with REG to continue to find the optimal blend rate for the 75 power units that are the lifeblood of his fleet. “We work closely with our REG representatives to continue to optimize. We do adjust the blend rate throughout the year. For example, we back off the blend rate in the winter. However, we’ve found that B30 works fantastic for the equipment,” Bergman says.
Mease said his team is always making sure customers get the support they need. “As a fuel provider, we’re taking on the responsibility to make sure everything is okay. We are always communicating with our partners,” he said.
The convenience of Doing Business With REG
Bergman said the REG team is easy to work with and has always been a good partner.
“From a convenience standpoint, I’d give them a rating of 10 out of 10.”
One example he noted was that sometimes he might not account for enough fuel over a weekend.
“The REG team finds a way to get fuel delivered.”
REG Energy Services, located in central Iowa, makes it convenient to get local renewable fuel delivery. Our fleet delivers high-quality biodiesel and ethanol blends as well as additives.
Doing What’s Right
Bergman is always trying to stay ahead of the game. That’s why getting on board with alternative fuels five years ago not only was important for his business but was the right thing to do. He said he’s seeing requirements in federal contracts on decarbonization becoming more prevalent, and he is proactively putting his company in a good position to be competitive in the marketplace.
“These requirements are becoming more of a factor and the government is encouraging us to use alternate fuels, aerodynamic devices to increase fuel mileage and we are doing all of that. We also use Smartway verified tires for low rolling resistance which not only helps us reduce our carbon footprint, but it also puts more money in our pocket. It’s something I think everyone would want to do. Anytime you can save fuel, you’ve accomplished something good in transportation.”
Thoughts on Electric Vehicles
Bergman says when he weighs his options on alternative energy, he wants to do what is best not only for his bottom line, but what is best for the environment.
“I realize there is a big push for electric and I applaud that. But when looking at electric as an alternative source of energy, you have to look at the overall cost. Is it sustainable to put an extra strain on the power grid, and dispose of and recycle the batteries? It seems like a pretty expensive solution and I don’t know if it’s worth the cost when we have a pretty good solution going on right now,” he said.
Always Innovating His Business
Bergman said about 10 years ago, he made a big decision to refine his business model.
“We used to go from Denver to Philadelphia. Now we’ve focused on our core business and mainly run in the Midwest. This has made us more profitable,” he said.
Contract Transport also has a terminal in Kansas City, Kansas. While most of his business focuses on hauling mail, he says he also dedicates a percentage of his fleet to deliver brokerage freight in order to maximize utilization.
Driver-Friendly, Customer Focused
Most of Contract Transport’s routes are centrally located in the Midwest. For that reason, drivers are able to get home every night.
“Drivers like this job because it pays well and by the hour. They like being home every day and having predictable schedules. I think drivers really like taking ownership of their routes and having the job security of a federal contract,” Bergman said.
Contract Transport drivers also take pride in what they do.
“Drivers feel good about what they do. They are providing a service to the nation by delivering mail. Today, with all of the supply chain snags and almost everything you order online being shipped, this is an important thing. The Postal Service delivered more than 8 billion packages last year and these drivers are a key part of the distribution system that sometimes is taken for granted,” he said. Bergman credits making a family-like environment as a key factor for drivers staying with the company.
He said that because drivers have a sense of ownership and pride in what they do, that carries over to great customer service.
Supporting the Community
Bergman says that using biodiesel is really important to support the farming economy.
“Living in Iowa, we want to help provide a market for our local producers and give them price support for their crops. I also feel like as more of us start increasing our blend rates, we’re helping expand the market. This is the responsible thing to do.”
If your company is looking to make an impact with biodiesel, contact Justin Mease , Renewable Energy Group Senior Sales Manager.