Some may say its fate, but for Jeff Bennett, owner of Bennett Hauling in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, watching his uncle operate a Kenworth tractor instilled a fascination for the trucking industry that paved the way for Bennett owning his own fleet.
“Growing up, I thought it was so cool that my uncle operated a big rig,” said Bennett. “He hauled jet fuel and on occasion, he would take me along for a ride. To this day, those memories I have riding alongside my uncle helped form the life-long appreciation I have for the trucking industry.”
Even with that special interest in the trucking industry, 25 years went by before Bennett decided he would own his own truck.
“One day, a good friend of mine told me that he was going to seriously look for a driving job in the construction industry,” said Bennett. “That got me thinking. It was a dream of mine to own a big rig, and I had the means to do it, so I decided I’d buy a truck and let my friend drive it.”
Fast-forward 13 years, Bennett now manages an all-Kenworth fleet of 12 trucks, all fitted with R/S Godwin dump bodies that haul aggregate and firm soil material to grading contractors within a 75-mile radius of the company’s headquarters in Fuquay-Varina, just south of Raleigh.
Bennett Hauling’s fleet consists of 11 T880s, purchased through MHC Kenworth – Raleigh, all spec’d with PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 455 hp, and six-speed automatic Allison transmissions. On average, Bennett’s Kenworth T880s will accumulate around 60,000 miles each annually.
Shown are some of the Kenworth T880 Dumps in the Bennett Hauling fleet.
Even though Bennett grew up watching his uncle drive a Kenworth truck, his decision to build a fleet of Kenworths wasn’t a decision made based from emotion. Bennett wanted to invest in reliable equipment that would last for years, and also provide the excellent visibility and maneuverability required in the construction industry.
After some research, Bennett concluded that the Kenworth T800 would be the right truck to build a fleet around. Later, the company transitioned to the Kenworth T880 vocational leader.
“When I first started this company, I invested in high quality equipment that would last me for years. I’m a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for,’ and while a Kenworth truck may cost more upfront, I knew in return I would be operating the best equipment that the industry had to offer.”
Shown are some of the other Kenworth T880 Dumps in the Bennett Hauling fleet.
Bennett Hauling’s decision to go with Kenworth T880s has been well-received by the company’s drivers. According to Bennett, it has played a major role in the company’s driver retention rate.
“We make an effort to provide our drivers with equipment that they will enjoy operating and riding in day-in-day out,” said Bennett. “Many of our drivers have been with us for years, including one driver who has been with me from the very beginning. I truly believe that running new Kenworths has played a major role in keeping our driver turnover low over the years.”
The enhanced visibility and turning radius that Bennett’s drivers gain from operating Kenworth T880s helps them navigate construction sites with ease, according to Bennett. “The maneuverability of the T880 is second-to-none,” he said.
The Bennett Hauling fleet also includes a special Kenworth W990 (at far right).
“Every now and then, our drivers are tasked with delivering to construction sites that present narrow turns. It’s key to have equipment that can get to those ‘hard to reach’ areas and our trucks are able to do just that. Our drivers comment all the time about how great the turning radius is compared to other trucks they have driven,” Bennett said.
When Bennett has his Kenworth T880s serviced, he sends the trucks to the same place he purchases them, MHC Kenworth – Raleigh. Bennett has been a customer for 13-plus years and has developed close-knit relationship with the dealership.
“MHC Kenworth knows me well and what I’m looking for. The service technicians do a fine job working on my Kenworth T880s, and minimize any downtime so I can get them back on the road,” said Bennett. “MHC Kenworth is a one-stop-shop for me when it comes to service, and branch manager Robert Henderson, understands the type of equipment I need, and how to spec it so that I’m running equipment that will perform the way I need it to.”
Looking ahead, Bennett plans to add three more Kenworth T880s in the near term, and nearly double his fleet in the next few years. “I’ve had great success running Kenworth trucks,” said Bennett. “I’ve been running Kenworths since Day 1, and I will be running Kenworths once I hit my goal of managing a 20-truck fleet.”
Kenworth W990 Raises Awareness for ALS
Over the years of working together, branch manager Robert Henderson got to know Bennett on a personal level and understands his deep ties to the ALS community.
In 2015, Bennett lost his younger brother, Cory, after a seven-year battle with ALS – otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Jeff and Cory were close, and during Cory’s battle, Jeff would constantly make trips to visit his brother who was living over an hour away. Since Cory’s passing, Bennett and members of his family have continued to support the ALS community by hosting fundraisers, which have generated thousands of dollars in donations to Jackson Laboratories, a research center that focuses on finding a cure for ALS.
To further support those living with ALS, Jeff started looking for ways he could honor his brother, as well enhance the public’s awareness of ALS through his company. After some thought, Bennett decided he wanted to feature the ALS Foundation logo on one of his trucks. Bennett’s original plan was to dedicate one of his new T880s he had on order, until Henderson brought up a unique opportunity.
"Hauling for a Cure" Kenworth W990 operated by Bennett Trucking
“When I met with Robert to discuss my purchase order, he brought up the idea of purchasing a Kenworth W990 day cab to dedicate to Cory and ALS,” said Bennett. “I hadn’t even seen pictures of the W990, but Robert convinced me that a Kenworth W990 would be a great truck to ‘stand-alone’ in my fleet of T880s and a special way to honor Cory. He was right.”
Prior to receiving the Kenworth W990 dump truck, Bennett, Henderson, and Doug Hicks, R/S Godwin salesman, coordinated with the ALS Association and had the truck custom-painted by R/S Godwin to showcase the ALS Association logo. The paint job was finished in time so that Bennett could show his special Kenworth W990 at the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
“We were a big hit at MATS,” said Bennett. “We constantly had people commenting on the truck and asking questions about the meaning behind the ALS paint job. We definitely accomplished what we were looking to do, which was raise awareness for ALS. It’s a great feeling to have an idea come to fruition and have it well-received. My mom was on-hand at the event, and I don’t think she ever left our booth. She was that in-awe of that special truck that honors Cory.”
Now that the Kenworth W990 dump is back with Bennett Hauling, Bennett has his longest tenured driver making aggregate deliveries, as part of a driver’s rewards program. The Kenworth W990 features a 485 hp engine and a six-speed automatic Allison transmission. The W990 Limited Edition interior package is also included.
“My driver absolutely loves driving the W990,” said Bennett. “I think part of the reason he has been with the company so long is because I continue to let him drive new Kenworth trucks.”
While the truck has only been operating for less than a month, Bennett says his driver is already receiving a lot of attention from customers and bystanders about the truck. The W990 is accomplishing its intended purpose, which is to generate awareness about ALS.
“I have to admit, Robert (Henderson) was right when he convinced me to purchase a W990. Since the Kenworth W990 recently began production, people are naturally curious about the truck. Pair that with the ALS design, and we have a truck that is getting the attention we had hoped for a good cause,” Bennett said.
“ALS is a terrible disease, and I hope through this truck we can continue to increase awareness of the disease. I know my brother Cory is looking down at the truck, and I’m sure he’s got a big smile on his face. I hope I’ve made him proud.”
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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.