Fleet First

by Sarah Haugen

Feb 02, 2018

For most people, running a 4,200-acre corn-and-soybean farm would be a full-time job. Not Bret Berg. On top of his Double B Farms operation near Farmington, Minn., Berg owns American Transfer Company, a 22-truck fleet that delivers sand and rock to cement plants in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area.

Knowing Cenex products were backed by the co-op that sold them made me want to give them a try. Once we moved to Cenex fuels and lubricants, our equipment began to run better and we never looked back.
Bret Berg
Owner, American Transfer Company

He entered the trucking business innocently enough. Twenty years ago, while hauling grain for neighbors and nearby farmers, Berg had the opportunity to buy a two-truck operation hauling materials to a shingle company in the Twin Cities. “The business grew from there and before I knew it, I had more than 20 trucks, plus office and maintenance staff.”

In addition to his over-the-road vehicles, Berg’s farm operation requires a fleet of tractors, combines, sprayers and trucks. 

With all those engines and hydraulic systems under his care, Berg needs quality products and partners to run both businesses.

Quality Products
For years, Berg says he relied on a mix of products, buying whatever was on sale or easy to find. Then, five years ago, he learned about Cenex® premium diesel fuels and lubricants.

“Knowing Cenex products were backed by the co-op that sold them made me want to give them a try,” he says. “Once we moved to Cenex fuels and lubricants, our equipment began to run better and we never looked back.”

Now Berg relies on Cenex fuels and lubricants to power both his farming and trucking businesses.

“You have to match the product to the type of job you’re doing and what you want that piece of equipment to do,” he says. For Berg, that match is the Cenex line of Maxtron® synthetic lubricants and greases.

“I’m a believer in full synthetics. In the long term, you get better protection, change oil less frequently and save money.” Berg uses Maxtron Enviro-EDGE® diesel engine oil in his combines, tractors, quadtrac tractors and semis. Maxtron THF+ keeps his tractor transmissions and hydraulic components running smoothly. “When taking care of your equipment, synthetics can’t be beat.”

Berg is choosy about fuel quality, too. “When it comes to our truck fleet, we use Cenex Roadmaster XL® premium diesel fuel. It’s not the lowest-priced diesel, but we can justify the cost in the better fuel mileage our trucks get with easier start-ups.” He relies on Cenex Ruby Fieldmaster® premium diesel fuel to power his farm equipment.

“With all the equipment and money at stake, I need to have fuel and lubricants I can rely on to help me run my operation efficiently,” Berg says.

Right Partners
Keeping Berg up to date on products for his on- and off-road equipment is Matt Hart, lubricants manager at Ag Partners Cooperative, whose energy office is based in Wanamingo, near Rochester, Minn.

He and Berg connect regularly in person and over the phone to talk through how fuel and lubricant products are working for Berg’s fleet and what new products should be on his radar.

“Bret is constantly focused on keeping his equipment in top running condition,” says Hart. “He always wants to go with the best product. He doesn’t have time for breakdowns.

“Bret has a unique operation,” Hart adds. “It’s fun to work with him to help keep his equipment and business running as efficiently as possible.”

Now Hart is helping Berg take advantage of automated fuel delivery by installing tank monitoring on his bulk fuel tanks.

“I rely on Matt to let me know the latest equipment and product information and to talk through any concerns I have,” says Berg. “Having a partner like Matt and the backing of the co-op gives me confidence I’m using the right products for every piece of equipment I run.”

Protecting Assets
In addition to reliable products, Berg says aligning with Cenex products means he can take advantage of the Cenex Total Protection Plan®, a warranty program that protects farm equipment when producers commit to using Cenex fuels and lubricants exclusively.

“When we switched to Cenex products, we had just purchased a few used late-model tractors. Even with a few thousand hours logged on the equipment, we were able to cover them under the Cenex warranty,” says Berg.

The Cenex Total Protection Plan covers used equipment for up to eight years or 8,000 hours and new equipment for up to 10 years or 10,000 hours. The plan covers thousands of pieces of equipment and has no deductible.

Recently, Berg’s 2012 Case IH 550 Quadtrac tractor was in the shop with a worn-out transmission. The expected price tag is upward of $25,000. “I can rest easy because the equipment is covered under the Cenex Total Protection Plan warranty,” he says. “And that’s all thanks to relying on Cenex products.

“The combination of quality products, the Cenex Total Protection Plan warranty and backing from my local co-op make using Cenex products the best way to run my truck and farm fleet,” says Berg.

“For me, it’s plain and simple; farming is a tough business. With all the wear on our trucks and field equipment, the smartest thing I can do is use the best fuels and lubricants.”

LEARN MORE: Get details on Cenex® products at cenex.com.


4 TIPS FOR PEAK FLEET MAINTENANCE


Bret Berg, left, and his energy adviser, Matt Hart with Ag Partners Cooperative, talk through lubricant needs for Berg’s diverse fleet of on- and off-road equipment.


1. DON’T LET FUEL LIMIT PERFORMANCE.
A key component in maximizing and maintaining equipment is the type of fuel you’re using. Cenex® Roadmaster XL® premium diesel fuel has been shown to improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent. Additives in premium diesel fuel also extend injection pump life.

2. LUBRICATE WITH THE BEST.
Using full synthetic lubricants can improve equipment performance and your return on investment. Thanks to the highly refined base oils and advanced additive packages found in Cenex Maxtron® synthetic lubricants and greases, they stand up better to drastic temperature changes, oxidation and oil aeration than conventional lubricants. That means fewer oil changes and less wear and tear on critical components.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR EQUIPMENT.
Every time a truck comes in for maintenance, plug in the computer to gauge what’s happening in its engine. By regularly monitoring mileage, idle time and percentage of fuel used, you can identify potential trouble brewing under the hood. If a truck’s fuel economy takes a sudden dip, for example, it may be time to inspect fuel injectors, tire pressure and filters.

4. DO THE MATH.
Calculate fleet downtime, overall fuel efficiency and lost revenue using shop records and annual revenue statements. Look at maintenance costs, repair costs, total fleet hours spent in the shop, overall fleet fuel economy and expected return on equipment per mile to evaluate how efficiently your fleet is operating.

If your fleet is not helping your business, CHS Transportation can provide analysis and logistics solutions. Learn more at chstransportation.com.


Check out the full C Magazine with this article and more.
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