Flatbed vs. Stepdeck

Since we have created the Contractor Web, and allowed our drivers to see all of our freight, we have received many calls from drivers wondering if they should switch trailers.  It’s a tough pill to swallow, when you are sitting empty in Charleston, with a Flatbed, and the board is full of step-deck freight out of Charleston that you can’t haul.  It’s just as frustrating when you have a step-deck, and you are told time and time again, “that load won’t fit on a step”, or “the customer just won’t load a step”.  So what’s the best way to go, flat or step?

As a coordinator, I ran a board full of step-decks for 6 years.  So I have always had more interest in step-decks than flatbeds.  Step-deck freight is definitely more interesting, especially with all of the O.D. freight that can be available to you.  Plus, who can argue with a special equipment charge?  Many contractors have called in recently, asking what kind of step-deck to get.  The most versatile step-deck configuration for my money is the 48 footer, with an 8 foot top deck, and a 40 foot bottom.  Container locks are a must!  I do recommend the ramps that double as load levelers also, but they are very expensive, and not necessary.  I do not suggest the low-profile 17.5 tires though.  The over-height freight that we usually get, typically goes on our RGN fleet.  Since the tires are smaller, which creates more tire revolution, you will replace these tires more frequently than with a standard size.  It is likely that you will not haul enough over-height freight to make up the difference in the amount of money you spend on the tires.  Plus, I hear that the 17.5’s can be much harder to find.

Let’s remember that Mercer, is a flatbed company.  Flatbeds, by far, make up the majority of our fleet.  If you want the most total load offers here at Mercer, a flat is probably the way to go.  In fact, many of our steps haul more flatbed freight, than they do specialized.  You can never go wrong with a flatbed here.

We all know that the flatbed industry is not nearly as busy as it was a year ago.  I definitely know that there are a lot of drivers out there living load to load.  So right now, I think the best trailer you can have is…the trailer you already have.  I think the only change that is good, is the one that can lower your monthly payment, which is nearly impossible. 

If you are in the market for a trailer, we do have several trailers here on our lot.  As a Mercer Contractor, we can set you up on a lease purchase on any of those trailers.  We have flats and steps available.  If you are interested, please contact me or Heidi at cra@mercer-trans.com.  Have a great day, and be safe!


Thursday Wrap-Up

It’s been an interesting Thursday.  I have spent most of the day following up with contractors, and the biggest part of my discussions have been spent talking about the lack of freight.  I stumbled across a great article on this very topic.  http://www.purchasing.com/article/CA6649911.html?industryid=48397

I will soon have a link to this blog on our Mercertown website, and on our contractor web.  If you are viewing this blog for the first time, please spread the word among other Mercer Contractors!

Tomorrow, I plan discussing flatbed vs. stepdeck trailers.  Please keep an eye on the site so you can share your thoughts.  Have a safe night!


Welcome to the Mercer Transportation Blog!

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Welcome to the new Mercer Transportation Blog!  My name is Jason Schaftlein, and I am in Contractor Relations here at Mercer.  I have created this blog to encourage, and increase communication between the employees in our Louisville, KY headquarters, and our owner-operators.  I hope to be able to post to this blog multiple times per day, so remember to visit regularly.  I encourage everyone to comment on the topics I post here, just please remember to be respectful.  I look forward to sharing my opinions with you, and if you need to contact me, you can always email me at jschaftlein@mercer-trans.com.