Ottery News

October 2, 2015

Family merger successful for Ottery Brothers

The merging of two family-owned companies in 2005 brought together not only the foodgrade businesses, but aligned four brothers who today operate the Ottery concerns in Campbellsport, Wisconsin.

Patrick Ottery, president of the company, and his brothers Herb, Steve, and Dick realized when they took over from their father upon his retirement that additional organization, diversification, and technology would enhance their foodgrade operation and provide better service to their customers.

At first, in the 1990s, they set up two separate companies, one owned by Herb and Patrick and another owned by Dick and Steve. Although they operated out of the same location, they decided that to improve efficiency and provide for growth opportunities, all four brothers should work together.

To manage the business, the brothers formed three separate companies: one dedicated to transportation, another for commercial tank cleaning and shop facilities, and a third for a truck leasing firm.

Ottery Transportation Inc holds the position as the carrier flagship company while Ottery Brothers Inc is charged with the tank wash and shop. Armstrong Leasing is the third operation.

“We are always looking for opportunities to expand our base,” says Patrick. “Traditionally, we’ve always reacted to customer demand, and this organization aids us in that effort.”

From less than 20 tractors and tank trailers in the early 1990s, the brothers have expanded the fleet today to 67 power units, including seven quad-axle tank trucks and 77 tank trailers to haul foodgrade loads. The carrier also supplies tractors to haul tank containers for Agmark Intermodal Systems.

Products transported include milk, juices, and edible oils that are hauled throughout the Midwest, as far south as Florida, and occasionally into western states. Juices include orange, grape, and apple juices, while edible oils and related products consist of palm, soybean, and cooking and coconut oils.

Ottery Transportation hauls about 1.4 million pounds of milk per day from 150 farms in and around Wisconsin. Ten tank trailers are dedicated to three farms with around-the-clock automatic milking and loading systems.

Although milk production in general has leveled off in the area, individual farms have enlarged dairy herds increasing milk production at those locations. This has proven to be a boon for the carrier because it calls for transporters with larger fleets to handle the abundant, but perishable product. On the other hand, staging tank trailers at the farms to await loading removes the vehicles from service when they could be on the road elsewhere, the brothers point out.

Tank cleaning

As part of the company’s reorganization, the commercial tank cleaning facility was opened in January of this year after the brothers determined there was a market for wash rack services in eastern Wisconsin. The decision to start up the tank wash led to construction of a bay with both interior and exterior cleaning capabilities. In addition to typical foodgrade applications, the facility is kosher and Grade A certified.

For the wash system, the Otterys turned to Darlington Dairy Supply for installation of four 280-gallon stainless steel vats for detergent, rinse water, kosher water, and return water. Gamajet supplied spinners. The Hurst boiler and Professional Advantage water softener system are housed in a separate area recently constructed between the wash rack and the shop.

Choosing to remove wastewater rather than process it on site, the brothers designed a system to capture the effluent from the wash bay and pump it to a 2,500-gallon holding tank where it is stored until hauled off for disposal.

Mobile communications

Another aspect of the reorganization came with the decision to add a PeopleNet on-board system for mobile communications. The system has eased dispatcher jobs by cutting down on the time they were spending on the phone. It maximizes routes and allows drivers to avoid toll roads when possible. Administrators no longer have to manually log miles and record fuel purchases because the system automatically computes the fuel tax information.

“The system has helped tremendously,” Pat says.

The PeopleNet program provides for real-time and batch messaging, and deferred messages piggyback on the next data call between the truck and dispatcher. E-mail allows drivers and dispatchers to stay in close contact through messages sent to and from the vehicle. With the e-mail access, drivers also can send alerts about vehicle problems so that the maintenance department can plan for repairs accordingly.

Driver training

Drivers receive training for the PeopleNet program as well as in company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, foodgrade product handling, and defensive driving. Dick Ottery oversees local driver training while Patrick provides training for over-the-road drivers. Both programs emphasize safety, including rollover prevention and fatigue avoidance.

In addition to the company’s focus on safety, it is concerned with product security, another point of emphasis in driver training. As a foodgrade carrier, managers were conscious of delivering a safe and pure product long before security became an issue after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. But today even more emphasis is placed on the security effort. Drivers are trained to be alert to their surroundings and to ensure that seal integrity is maintained.

In addition to the 74 fulltime and 20 part-time drivers in Wisconsin, Ottery Transportation bases four drivers and equipment in Florida where much of the juice operation is centered. Four more drivers are assigned to the Chicago area for the Agmark tank container services.

Vehicle maintenance

Seeing that drivers have vehicles in good repair so that wheels can keep rolling is the priority at the two-bay shop. While commercial services for foodgrade customers are available, the majority of the work is performed on company vehicles. Preventive maintenance is scheduled at 22,000-mile intervals for power units. Tank trailers receive minor repairs and maintenance at the shop, but major work is sent to Brenner Tank Services LLC in Mauston, Wisconsin.

Brenner also supplies the newest tank trailers. Stainless steel insulated foodgrade trailers used for both milk and juice are specified with 6,000-gallon tanks equipped with Brenner domelids, Olson vents, and Fort Vale valves. Running gear includes Hendrickson Intraax suspensions, MeritorWabco antilock brake systems, and Alcoa aluminum wheels. Ottery has specified Michelin X One wide single tires on its newest trailers for added fuel efficiency and reduced weight.

Milk hauling trailers typically have Jabsco pumps inside that can load milk at a rate of 950 pounds per minute. Pumps are in a rear-mounted cabinet. A few transports have loading/unloading capacity on the right as well as in the rear for more versatility. Some have in-transit heat for products, such as soybean and palm oils.

Tractors in the fleet include Mack, Kenworth, and Freightliner. Ottery specifies Caterpillar and Mercedes Benz engines with 450 horsepower. The power units typically are equipped with Eaton Fuller 13-speed transmissions. All new tractors are spec’d with Thermo King’s TriPac auxiliary power units to conserve fuel use and reduce wear on engines.

With the company’s business continuing to grow, the Ottery brothers anticipate adding more vehicles to their fleet in the near future. With the tank cleaning services in place and more plans to add computer programs that will help the business to become even more efficient, the carrier is ready to provide the best service to its customers — which was, after all, a goal for the reorganization in the first place.

Credits: Bulk Transporter –

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