A Family Affair: Three Generations Makes D.G. Coleman Stand Out with Drivers and Customers
Fleet of Kenworth Trucks Showcase Quality
Operating a fleet of 105 trucks, D.G. Coleman can keep its office staff relatively small with 13 employees. When they come to work, it is almost like a family reunion.
Ten of the employees are family members. The three that aren’t family – “it’s almost as if they were,” said Jim Coleman, D.G. Coleman’s chief operating officer, and company owner -- along with his brother Rich and sister Tammy. “One is lead dispatcher for our pneumatic division, and he’s been with us for eight years; and our HR manager has been with us two years. We also consider our drivers part of the family. They know our history and can see our family bond. All told, we’re a tight knit group.”
From left are siblings Rich Coleman, D.G. Coleman director of maintenance and owner, Tammy Coleman, D.G. Coleman office manager and owner, and Jim Coleman, D.G. Coleman chief operating officer and owner.
The Commerce City, Colorado-based company is a mainstay in Colorado. D.G. Coleman began operation in 1972 when Jim’s parents – Dan and Kathy purchased their first truck – and leased on to Ruan Transport. The company grew from there and now offers pneumatic, aggregate, tanker and dry van services operating primarily in Colorado. Dan, at 73, still serves as president, while Kathy is vice president. They started their succession planning for the company a year ago to engage the next generation.
From left are husband and wife Dan Coleman, president; and Kathy Coleman, vice president, of D.G. Coleman. They are the parents of Jim, Tammy and Rich Coleman.
Operating a fleet of Kenworths – T680s for the dry van division and T880s for the others, the company recently took delivery of Kenworth’s newest model, the W990. “We had eight come in a few months ago and our drivers were pretty excited,” said Jim Coleman. “When I started with the company, I did light maintenance, then dispatch, and then became a driver. I still drive on occasion and I know the importance of a quality and comfortable rig. I’ve been there. The W990 gives us the comfort, along with the long hood that truckers just love. It’s caused a lot of talk amongst our drivers.”
Since D.G. Coleman is a regional operation, it operates mostly day cabs, “so room inside the truck is really important. And it’s why we like the Kenworth T680 and T880,” said Coleman. “It’s also a big selling point on the W990 as compared to the W900, which we’ve run before. The cab is so much wider and the same as our T680s and T880s. We feel the W990 will not only help us with driver retention, but its great look showcases our company. It shows quality and mirrors our own image.”
The company purchases its trucks from MHC Kenworth – Denver. “And, they’ve been great to work with,” said Coleman. “They’re very important to our success, just as much as the truck is. If there is ever an issue, MHC is quick to respond. They’re right on it and with us all the way.”
Along with Rick Bowen (MHC Kenworth – Denver salesman), D.G. Coleman specifies the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 hp, and recently added the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission. “Our drivers really like the PACCAR transmission,” said Coleman. “The automated shifting is much smoother than what we were using previously, and the combination of the engine and transmission gives us plenty of power and torque for our heavy loads.”
According to Coleman, the company typically grosses out at 97,000 pounds with its 3-axle trailers, and at 92,000 pounds on its 5-axle tanker trailers. “Couple the heavy weights with the mountain passes we have to travel in Colorado and you create challenges for your equipment,” he said. “We haul about 110 loads a day from Buena Vista and Fairplay back to Denver. Those areas are about 120 miles west of Denver and our trucks go through four mountain passes. We need the power going up, and the power to stop going down. It’s one reason we equipped all our trucks with disc brakes.”
Since the company makes money for every pound hauled in its aggregate and tanker divisions, lightweight specs were analyzed with MHC Kenworth, “but not at the expensive of durability,” said Coleman. “Our reputation has been built on our family name, which is all about integrity and reliability. The most critical thing for us is dependable equipment and meeting each customer’s delivery schedule. With that in mind, we were still able to spec integrated knuckle, lightweight front springs, plus Alcoa aluminum wheels and a fixed 5th wheel.”
With a five-year trade cycle, D.G. Coleman has seen firsthand the value of their Kenworths in helping to drive down costs. “To be successful you need to look at total life cycle costs – and we do,” Coleman said. “Vehicle reliability, driver acceptance and fuel economy are key, and that helps fuel resale value. And with good resale values, the bottom line looks a whole lot better.”
D.G. Coleman – Active in the Industry
Like his father, who was chairman of the Colorado Motors Carrier Association in 2009, Jim is also active in promoting and improving the trucking industry. He is the current CMCA chairman.
“One of the things my dad help spearhead was chain-up stations for trucks along I-70, which goes from Vail Pass to the west, to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east. At the top is Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158 feet). It’s a difficult pass to drive and expanded chain-up lanes for truckers were really needed.
“Recently our association was involved with the Colorado DOT to put together and promote ‘The Mountain Rules’ truck safety campaign for that very same interstate. Part of the program has safety alerts through Drivewyze and PrePass, which alerts drivers to upcoming brake check areas for safe pull-offs – using those chain up areas my dad was involved with. And it alerts to steep grades and runaway ramps. It was great to be involved with a safety program that can really make a difference for motorists and truckers alike.”
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