Brothers Randy and Scott Tersteeg have never been afraid to try something new as long as it can improve the operation and bottom lines of their family farm and their transportation and warehousing business - Beaver Creek Transport.
From left, brothers Scott and Randy Tersteeg operate their family farm and Beaver Creek Transport.
When it came time to replace two trucks in Beaver Creek Transport's fleet, the Tersteegs decided to move from diesel-powered to compressed natural gas-powered trucks. With their purchase of two Kenworth T880s equipped with the Cummins Westport ISX12 G natural gas engine, Beaver Creek Transport became Kenworth's first customer to place a natural gas-powered Kenworth T880 into operation.
Theresa, Randy's wife, assisted with the effort. Randy Tersteeg said the consistently lower cost of natural gas and its availability convinced him and his brother to adopt CNG. "We did a cost analysis and found the cost of natural gas is equivalent to paying about $2 for a comparable gallon of diesel fuel," he said. "At the time of the analysis, we were paying nearly $4 for a gallon of diesel fuel."
After careful consideration of their options among several OEMs, the Tersteegs chose the Kenworth T880 as their base model, becoming Kenworth's first customer to place a Kenworth T880 powered by natural gas into operation.
The two Kenworth T880s are equipped with the 400-hp Cummins Westport ISX12 G natural gas engine offering 1,450 lb-ft of torque, driven through a 13-speed Eaton transmission. Randy Tersteeg estimates Beaver Creek Transport saves about $200 in fuel costs each day operating both trucks compared to the cost of operating its diesel-powered trucks even with diesel prices currently at about $3 per gallon.
"As we looked at our options for replacing our trucks, the notion of natural gas became even sweeter after Houston-based CenterPoint Energy agreed to build a five-mile natural gas line out from Olivia to our warehouse," he said. "And TruStar Energy received the bid to build a slow-fill fueling station equipped to handle up to 12 trucks."
Natural gas also seemed a "natural" choice for the Tersteegs given the fact that their transportation and warehousing business has evolved over the last several years into an active player in the alternative waste-to-energy fuel market.
While Beaver Creek Transport still moves products from the family's farms in North Central and South Central Minnesota to market, since 2007 it has specialized in the transportation of poultry litter from area farms to the FibroMinn power plant. The 55-megawatt power plant generates electricity by burning 700,000 tons of poultry litter each year. Beaver Creek also transports about 125,000 tons of fertilizer derived from waste ash generated by the power plant. The fertilizer is made at North American Fertilizer, an adjacent manufacturing facility the Tersteegs opened when the power plant began operation in 2007.
"Once we decided to go with natural gas, we then looked at all of the models the different manufacturers had to offer," Tersteeg added. "We chose the Kenworth T880 as our base model for several reasons. Ease of serviceability was a big issue for us since we have our own maintenance shop, which does most of the general maintenance on our fleet's trucks and trailers and our farm's equipment. The T880 offered a straight-forward layout in the engine compartment and cab that will make servicing and repair easier for our mechanics once our shop area renovations are completed and we've added a natural gas-compliant service bay. The T880 also offered great forward visibility and comfort for the driver, which helps with our driver recruitment and retention.
"The visibility you get with its panoramic windshield and the intuitive layout of its dashboard make the T880 a very driver-friendly truck," Tersteeg said. "The wide cab is so quiet and makes the truck feel more spacious. A comfortable cab helps our drivers stay more focused throughout the day."
Durability and resale value also played deciding factors in the company's choice of the Kenworth T880. "Our trucks run about 400 miles per day in a variety of different environments from the highway to deeply rutted farm roads," he said. "We wanted a truck that would hold its resale value, and also be durable enough to handle the difficult conditions our trucks operate under."
The difficult terrain played a big factor in the company's choice of fuel tank for the T880s - a 145-gallon back-of-cab fuel tank system made by dHybrid System, which is now Worthington Fuel Systems.
"Because the success of our business is largely based on how much poultry litter or fertilizer our trucks can carry per load, we needed the largest, but lightest weight tank system that could be bolted on the back of the truck cab," Tersteeg said. "The dHybrid system offered that. And Kenworth and our local dealer - Rihm Kenworth, worked with the folks at dHybrid Systems to be sure that the installation of the tanks went well. They checked and rechecked where the holes would be predrilled at the factory making the installation go smoothly. When the folks from dHybrid arrived at our site, it only took them a couple hours to install the tanks."
That fast turn-around allowed Beaver Creek to get the trucks out on the road generating income quickly, he said. "Since the T880s began running in August, they've operated well in some of our hottest and coldest temperatures of the year and have been performing very well," he added.
As the company's trucks reach the end of their life cycles, Randy Tersteeg said Beaver Creek Transport plans to replace them with Kenworth T880s powered by natural gas. In fact, Tersteeg said he considers the Kenworth T880s powered by natural gas as another forward-thinking move that will help build a solid financial future for his company.
Drivers Dennis Baune (left) and Mike Hoff (right) are shown in the Kenworth T880 natural gas trucks operated by Beaver Creek Transport.
"Since Scott and I started our farming operation in 1985, we have strived to create a successful agri-business that would lead the way through the adoption of new technology and the pursuit of new business opportunities," said Randy. "We expanded and diversified our farming operation and began raising a variety of different crops."
The Tersteeg brothers also started a transportation and warehousing business to get products to market and to help subsidize the farm operation. That business succeeded and eventually grew into Beaver Creek Transport, a specialized transportation and warehousing company.
"With our children interested in participating in our family business, I want to be sure that all of our decisions will help protect their legacy," Tersteeg added. "I consider our choice of the natural gas-powered Kenworth T880 as one that will help our company grow the business with its lower operating cost, strong driver appeal and its great serviceability."
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.