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We're Sheehy "Green" - For more than three generations!

Sheehy: SmartWay even before there was an EPA

For Sheehy Mail Contractors, participation in the EPA SmartWay Program was a "no brainer" according to Bob Sheehy, the co-owner of the family-owned trucking firm based in Waterloo, WI.

"It's been our tradition to constantly look for new ways to improve our efficiency," says Bob, whose main responsibility is fleet maintenance at the midwest regional carrier that now counts nearly a hundred power units and nearly three times as many trailers in service to its customers.

Gerald Sheehy & Sons truck featuring aero-box design (circa 1960)

In fact, Bob's grandfather Gerald was among the first to discover and utilize an aerodynamic design to his home-built freight boxes on the straight trucks that first bore the Sheehy name.

"Grandpa was the first in this family to get into the trucking business in 1952, hauling mail on a Star Route for the Post Office in La Crosse (WI)," Bob explains. "He played with the design of the truck boxes he hand built himself and discovered that a curved front on the top leading edge provided improved fuel mileage. I guess you could say he was a pioneer in keeping close records and applying SmartWay technologies even before the EPA existed."

Bob Sheehy has most certainly carried on this tradition, which is founded upon a combination of frugality and a desire to overcome a challenge. Bob is forever in search of the latest in tire-tread design or other such improved technology that will enhance the fleet's average fuel mileage, recognizing a reduction in fuel consumption is perhaps the greatest indicator of a fleet's efficiency. He also carefully specs trucks and other equipment for the fleet with initial cost weighed against depreciation as another key component that happens to meet the SmartWay challenge.

Gerald Sheehy at work custom building his own truck body. (Circa 1960)

But the Sheehy pursuit of efficiency of operation doesn't begin and end in the shop. Sheehy also utilizes the very latest in computer technology - including onboard computers in all vehicles - to maintain constant, nearly real-time monitoring of all manner of performance data.

"If you can measure it, you can manage it," says John Sheehy, Bob's brother and fellow co-owner of the business. It's a maxim heard often around the office as John encourages use of computer technology to measure nearly every aspect of the companies operation.

John explains that Sheehy pioneered the use of LoadTrek Transportation Software that allows data from the vehicles to be transmitted directly into the office data network. There, the data is used to monitor DOT compliance, driver performance, payroll hours, and vehicle performance in ways that make it possible to measure - and thus manage - nearly all aspects of the business.

"With LoadTrek, we're able to get right down to the granular level - to a single truck and driver - and be notified in real time of any abnormal glitches occurring outside the normal parameters we set," says John, indicating that such things as a rise in engine temperatures or increase in fuel usage - or even a "hard brake" indication of a panic stop - can immediately be noted and managed before it becomes a greater problem.

This is the same software that is used primarily to enhance the Sheehy customers' overall efficiency as a state-of-the-art Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platform. Such services as load monitoring, just-in-time management, and invoice and billing are made much easier by the application of this software as a management tool. But at Sheehy, they utilize the program quite effectively to also promote the efficiencies of their own business itself.

"We applaud the effort of the EPA in creating the SmartWay Program," says John Sheehy, "It reinforces everything we have done in-house to use the latest technologies as a management tool that helps us keep pace with what's happening that affects our efficiency. The federal agency serve as a valuable partner that points out ways we might look to become even more efficient. Together, we continue working at becoming even better at what we do as a company, and we are pleased to be reducing our carbon footprint while we're at it."

"SmartWay Transportation management is win/win for everyone including our customers, the public at large, ourselves and our families," claims Bob Sheehy, who serves as the company's SmartWay Compliance Officer. "It enhances everything we've always tried to do at Sheehy, which is to make use of everything at hand in an effort to build the very best and efficient company we know how."

Somewhere, it can be imagined that Gerald Sheehy is keeping tabs on this third-generation effort to be both frugal and innovative in pursuit of excellence. And you just know Gerald is surely smiling, recognizing an ongoing tradition of sound business practices that continues to serve the Sheehy family very well.

SmartWay, indeed!

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