Going the Distance—Safety and Service Drive Fuel Delivery in the Last Frontier
As Published in Alaska Business: Crowley Fuels safety program overcomes challenges of delivering fuel across Alaska
Alaska weather can be wildly unpredictable and remarkably unforgiving, posing serious risks to drivers and complicating the mission at hand. Combine long trailers with thousands of gallons of fuel with sub-par road conditions, especially in the winter months, and fuel deliveries become even more challenging.
At Crowley Fuels, however, drivers are well equipped to confidently manage the road and overcome adversity thanks to the company’s commitment to safety that helps drive their reliable service. Their mission is simple: deliver high-quality petroleum products safely and efficiently to meet customer needs.
“Being recognized by the industry for our performance really says it all,” says Rick Meidel, vice president, Crowley Fuels. “We recruit the best drivers. We have the best training system of any of our competitors in Alaska, and we have best-in-class records with the DOT here for truck inspections and accident rates.”
The Crowley Fuels team has been honored with four “Alaska Safe Truck Fleet of the Year” awards and with the “Most Improved Fleet” award by the Alaska Trucking Association and ConocoPhillips. And they will continue to uphold the highest standards of safety for their fleet and drivers. For the Safe Truck Fleet award, the team was evaluated and ranked on several statistics, including the total number of miles driven, the company’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration CSA fleet scores, accident frequency, and overall Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rate.
Shell Oil Products US also named Crowley the Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) “Wholesaler of the Year,” in recognition of Crowley’s “efforts in delivering the Shell brand promise at every site, every visit, every day.” Crowley services eighteen Shell-branded retail stations, three of which are owned and operated by Crowley.
Last year, drivers of the Crowley fleet of more than 160 vehicles, which includes 34 line haul trucks, drove 3.1 million miles while delivering more than 160 million gallons of petroleum products, including aviation fuel, home heating oil, ultra-low sulfur diesel, gas and propane, to 280 communities across the state.
To further support its drivers and customers, Crowley Fuels recently opened a new trucking fleet maintenance facility in Palmer. The large, modern facility is now the operations hub for Crowley’s statewide fuel sales and distribution business, and provides maintenance and compliance support of both local and line haul equipment—including around 120 local delivery trucks, 34 line haul power units, and 65 tank trailers, including 2 propane transport trailers.
The state-of-the-art facility increases Crowley’s fleet safety, reliability, and efficiency due to the improved maintenance capabilities and collaborative work space it provides. It features a welding bay and three 140-foot maintenance bays to accommodate three full, A-train tractor and trailer combinations. It also has the state’s only automated truck wash, an office and storage space, and locker areas, allowing it to serve as “home base” for drivers who need to prepare for long hauls or undergo training.
“Our operation of this new facility is the latest in a series of upgrades Crowley Fuels has made to our Alaska fuel sales and distribution business,” explains Crowley’s Michael Moeller, director, trucking. “We have grown our terminal and line haul business to flex and respond to needs across the state, and our maintenance shop reflects the commitment Crowley has made to safe and reliable fuel distribution in the region.”
In recent years, Crowley has made significant investments in new equipment—including Peterbilt and Kenworth sleeper cabs, day cabs, local delivery trucks, and trailers—to safely and reliably support the changing and challenging fuel distribution needs of the state. The company has also worked hard to incorporate advanced safety equipment and industry best practices into its fleet and program, improve communication and compliance, and collect feedback to improve operations.
“I’ve really been impressed with the way Crowley does safety,” says Chris Jepsen, one of Crowley’s local Delta delivery drivers and a Delta Junction native. “Every company says that their safety program is designed so that their workers can go home at night, but I worked around a mine that was very different. Safety was in the way, so people would try to find ways around it. It’s been very different working here.”
Crowley talks the talk and walks the walk, Jepsen says. “They’re actually spending the time to develop a program where safety makes sense,” he says. “This is the safe way. This is the easy way. And this is the right way. When it’s all three of those things, how can you argue with it? When it’s all three, you’re not tempted to do something unsafe knowing that people actually put in the effort to make safety make sense.”
To learn more about Crowley Fuels, visit CrowleyFuels.com.