Waiting on diesel fuel, DEF and fluids for preventive maintenance on a jobsite can be a hassle and costly.
So Thunder Creek has developed trailers designed to carry diesel and service fluids without requiring a HAZMAT certification or even a CDL. They can be towed with your pickup truck and hauled wherever and whenever you need them.
On this episode of The Dirt, Thunder Creek Regional Sales Manager Steven Ile explains how the trailers accomplish this feat while also able haul 500 to 990 gallons of diesel or other fluids.
He also discusses the benefits of supplying your own fuel and the various trailer options available. The company can even customize the trailers to fit your needs.
And if your jobsite is so situated that a trailer won’t work, Thunder Creek produces truck bodies with tanks that fit the major truck manufacturers’ vehicles.
So if you’re tired of waiting on fuel and other fluid deliveries and want more control over your costs, check out the latest episode of The Dirt.
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In This Episode:
- 00:00 - Thunder Creek Trailers
- 00:30 - What is a Thunder Creek Trailer?
- 01:13 - Do You Need a Hazmat Certification for These Trailers?
- 03:04 - Do You Need a CDL to Tow These Trailers?
- 04:43 - Thunder Creek vs. Typical Fuel Delivery
- 06:13 - Thunder Creek Truck Upfit
- 07:19 - How Safe are Thunder Creek Trailers?
- 09:15 - Thunder Creek Service Trailers
- 13:25 - Can You Lock Up and Store These Trailers on a Job Site?
- 15:25 - Portability and Pumping Speed
- 17:40 - What Size Truck Can Haul a Thunder Creek Trailer?
- 19:20 - What Is the Lead Time to Receive a Thunder Creek Trailer?
- 20:00 - Final Thoughts
Bryan Furnace (00:00):
Today we're here to talk about Thunder Creek trailers. What's so special about these trailers and why are they becoming such a hot commodity item? Well, here to talk to us today is Steven from Thunder Creek trailers, and he's going to break down exactly what makes these trailers special and why you should consider one for your operation. Well, Steven, thank you so much for taking time to be on the show today. I appreciate it.
Steven Ile (00:33):
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Bryan Furnace (00:34):
Absolutely. I'm genuinely excited about this interview. I've known about Thunder Creek trailers for a while. But for those in the audience that haven't heard the name, can you give us just a high level breakdown of what a Thunder Creek trailer is?
Steven Ile (00:46):
Absolutely. So it is still fairly unknown. That's part of what we're doing, is just getting the message out there on what we do. And a Thunder Creek trailer simplified, it is just an alternative way to deliver diesel fuel, preventative maintenance fluids and tools to the field.
Bryan Furnace (01:01):
And what kind of quantities are we talking here on these trailers?
Steven Ile (01:05):
So we build everything that ranges from a starting out at 500 gallons total capacity up to 990 gallons.
Bryan Furnace (01:12):
So I'm sure one of the top questions that everyone just came up with in their seat is, does this thing require a HAZMAT certification to tow around with your pickup?
Steven Ile (01:22):
So yes and no. And it depends on who the user is, what the trailer is and what the application is of course. So the DOT kind of defines that anybody using over 119 gallons per container would need a HAZMAT endorsement to transport that much diesel fuel back and forth to the job site. Farmers are exempt from that on the agricultural side, as long as they're doing production agriculture, it's where we got our start. But as we saw a need for construction sites, whether that be site prep, asphalt and paving, so on and so forth, everybody else was limited to 119 gallons. So on those models, we make what's called a MTT or multi tank trailer, and we're segmenting those tanks down to 115 gallon tanks. We are plumbing those to a common manifold and then to one pump. So you could have up to eight tanks, 920 gallons capacity under that 119 threshold and not need a HAZMAT on that product. So as far as our MTT product, no HAZMAT would be needed for that.
Bryan Furnace (02:25):
Interesting. So you guys have kind of slipped through that loophole and found that sweet spot to where you're able to carry around a pretty good quantity of fuel without necessarily having to go through. And for those not familiar in the audience, getting a HAZMAT endorsement is not a light task. That's a pretty big deal.
Steven Ile (02:42):
Yeah, it is. There's labor shortages everywhere, so trying to find workers that have that endorsement on their license, whether it's the construction company themselves or the fuel suppliers, we get interest from fuel suppliers as well with our products. It's just hard to find folks with a HAZMAT endorsement. It's a little bit of a lengthy process. There's a federal background check. And yeah, like I said, it's difficult to get.
Bryan Furnace (03:03):
So that being said, if you don't need the HAZMAT certification, do you need any sort of CDL to pull one of these trailers?
Steven Ile (03:10):
For the most part on most of our applications I would say no. But that's tricky as well too because the CDL requirements are all based off of gross vehicle weight rating in combination. So it's the truck and the trailer. So if your truck's going to weigh enough to put you over that CDL requirement, yes, but that doesn't have anything necessarily to do with the trailer. It's the combination of the trailer and the truck. For most of our applications, our trailers for the construction industry and industrial industry are going to be rated between 10,000, 14,000 pounds. So as long as the truck that is pulling that trailer does not put them in combination over 26,001, a CDL is not going to be needed.
Bryan Furnace (03:48):
Interesting. So I am starting to see the appeal of these trailers, it's because you now have a bulk fuel delivery system that doesn't require me going out and finding some specialized driver. I don't have to go invest in some tank truck that now requires a HAZMAT certified driver. This is a very attainable way to get bulk fuel delivery within your company to your job sites.
Steven Ile (04:10):
There really is, Bryan. The thing is we're constantly talking about efficiencies. This is why you're going to spend this much money on this piece of equipment because it's going to turn X amount of dirt. Well, the one thing that we do every single day on a job site, regardless of the type of job site, is we're fueling. And those practices haven't really changed in the last 100 years. It's done in one of about two or three ways. And we're taking that process and we're making it much more efficient. We're doing it on your time, when you want with your fuel and we're doing it with basically anybody with a valid driver's license.
Bryan Furnace (04:43):
So my next question for you is what is the advantage of this over just calling my local fuel guy out and having him deliver fuel out to the site to each individual piece once a day or once every two days?
Steven Ile (04:55):
Yeah, so that's pretty standard practice as well. Is calling up and getting, you know what the term is, wet hosing fuel delivery on a job site. But with any business, those guys there is a handling fee for that. That takes more time. It's usually smaller quantities. They got to have a driver. They've typically had a second truck to haul that fuel to get out there from the main terminal. So there's higher cost associated with that. So there's a definitive savings that typically you can show by sourcing your own fuel and doing that yourself and avoiding some of those drop fees and wet hosing fees that are out there. On top of that also, we all know the fuel guy doesn't get there right when you want.
So you might be in the middle of a project, you might be needing one guy over here spreading, but all of a sudden he's got to stop doing what he's doing on that job to get over to the fuel guy because you need all six pieces or seven pieces lined up to get topped off. And it's really just about taking control of fueling on your job site when you want.
Bryan Furnace (05:52):
If you think about it in those terms, it's like anything else on our job sites, we're always trying to control the bigger food chain there so that we have more control over the actual job itself. And this is just another element of that. You're taking another unknown factor out. It's now safely in your control. You have the power over when you fuel and where it happens even.
Steven Ile (06:12):
Yes, sir. Absolutely.
Bryan Furnace (06:13):
So my next question is from what I understand, you guys don't just do trailers. You now have a truck unit available as well, how does that work?
Steven Ile (06:21):
Yeah, well, simply there are just locations, applications, job sites where trailers don't work. It may be too off-Road, it may be too remote. It may be up along access lane to a cell phone tower supporting a generator where they don't want to back a trailer. And we saw a call for taking our platform, whether it be the fuel, the no HAZMAT fuel trailer or the lube systems and up fitting that on a truck chassis. So we're doing a handful of different chassis right now. We just started this a couple of years ago, just exploding in popularity right now. As far as doing it on the truck up fits, we can do it on Ford Ram, Chevy. I think we're looking at a couple of different platforms too, probably more to come on that in some upcoming trade shows. But yeah, it's same type of capacities. We can get up to 920 gallons of diesel fuel. Again, no HAZMAT, no CDL, four-wheel-drive, L550, Ram 5,500 chassis, just giving a little bit more flexibility and mobility.
Bryan Furnace (07:19):
So I have to ask, you're talking about a pretty good quantity of fuel going down the road. That's a lot of weight. Do you guys have internal baffling inside the tanks? How safe are these trailers for... We really are talking at this point about the everyday Joe driving this down the road, how safe are these built?
Steven Ile (07:36):
So that's what we do at Thunder Creek, we build fuel and service trailers. We don't really try to go off and do anything very specialized or work outside of our wheelhouse. So we take a lot of pride in that. And the folks back in Pella, Iowa do a really good job in engineering specifically to these trailers. We don't take a manufactured trailer or have a manufactured trailer and put tanks on it and try to make that work. These are engineered specifically and tied to the chassis to be able to be balanced, whether they're half loaded or fully loaded, running up and down the road with the appropriate truck pulling. As far as your question for baffling, because of the way that we're segmenting those tanks say on like an MTT 920 with eight separate tanks, there's really not that volume moving around. So those tanks are not baffled. On our larger tanks, and sometimes the construction site will use those if they're not moving them around a lot because they're not worried about the HAZMAT piece, we are baffling those trailers.
So like on a economy or FST990, we're putting three full height baffles going left or right and two running front to back so you don't get any kind of tail wag.
Bryan Furnace (08:38):
So you guys have already taken into account kind of where that threshold is for where you're going to need baffling and when it is required and necessary, you guys are already implementing that. That's not something anyone on the driver or the receiving side's going to have to worry about.
Steven Ile (08:52):
We make it extremely easy. We make it easy for our dealers. These things are set up, they're ready to go. They're ready to hit the road. And same thing for the end user purchasing them and putting them in the field. Drop it on a 2 5/16 ball and you can be headed down the road, highway speeds safely. And feel very confident turning your employees out, or if you're an owner operator utilizing the trailer, it's ready to roll.
Bryan Furnace (09:15):
That's awesome. So now I want to shift gears. You've used it and I don't know if anyone's picked up on it, but you've used the term service trailer as well. You guys aren't just a fuel trailer delivery system. You guys have several other kits you can kind of outfit this with. Can you go into depth of what options and features you can get on these things?
Steven Ile (10:57):
Yeah, absolutely. So that's been the biggest growth that we've seen in the last year, is kind of on the preventative maintenance and the service fluid solutions. So obviously we kind of talk about our daily fluid solutions, which is the diesel fuel, the diesel exhaust fluid where they're fueling up every day. But obviously as well the preventative maintenance to doing a 500-hour engine oil change, there's growing demand for that. Equipment's getting out there longer and longer. There's more and more pieces. There's fewer and fewer techs, services becoming more of an issue and we were seeing a larger demand for this. So we make a service, a loop trailer platform that's got a dedicated PM. And what that trailer would be is customer calls up, say you're like, "I want X amount of oils and I want this quantity, I want this much reclaim grease." And you give us a wish list and then we build that around our standard models that fits your need, but still customizable to your fluids and quantities. So we do a lot of that.
We do a lot of that even for the OEM dealers, say the CAT dealers, the Komatsu dealers out there that are trying to do selling those service packages with new equipment now that are included for the first two or three years. They're trying to be profitable and they only have so many large service trucks to run around in with top tier techs. So they're utilizing it. We have fleets utilizing it to do those PMs at a fraction of the cost of a large service truck.
Bryan Furnace (12:21):
Steven Ile (12:22):
And then the progression a couple of years ago is we would take that platform to say a trade show and the fuel trailer, we were getting "customers that were saying, I don't need a full-blown service trailer, but I would like to have a couple of wheels. I want to do that 500 hour engine. I want to do change. I want to do topping off hydraulics if I blow a line." So we do kind of a hybrid and that's called our MTO product line. And typically what I'll see on a setup for that is primarily fuel, again on the no HAZMAT platform with diesel exhaust fluid. And then the customer will put say 55 gallons or 115 gallons of engine oil and hydraulic oil, a reclaimed system in grease so that they've got one dedicated asset to refuel, top off their DEF and do those more common PMs and hydraulic fluid top-offs.
Bryan Furnace (13:13):
Now, as I'm thinking through this as a contractor, your kind of go-to is this is a trailer that we can drag around and we can take everywhere and we can get fuel delivered to our job site. But I'm also starting to think along the terms of I'm assuming you can lock these things up. And so instead of me having to either go buy some bulk tanks or rent them and then create a little pit so that they're EPA worthy of holding diesel fuel, does this thing have the ability to just get parked on a job site? Do you have to supply power to it? How does that work?
Steven Ile (13:43):
Yeah, great question. So a couple of different things there that you kind of touched on. So one EPA situation, because it's a trailer it's regulated by the DOT. So unless there's some special situation at a job site, because they are DOT compliant you're going to be good to run them up and down the road, have them on a job site and have to worry about double wall containment, things like that that you would normally have to worry about with a stationary tank of large volume. As far as security, so each door has a lock on it. And then also above and beyond that, each handle has a place to padlock. So if you're in an area where you're like, "I'd like to have extra security." Not only can I lock the door, but I can also padlock it. All of our caps for our fluid tanks are all lockable as well.
And then it's pretty easy to either take a ball hitch or a pinhole hitch off. I've had customers do that or put a trailer lock system on the hitch. So a lot of different ways to secure them on the job site. As far as getting power to run the unit, so when that trailer is in tow, the seven pin connector is charging a deep cycle battery. That's going to run your electric start on say your gas powered motor. It's going to run the patented DEF system pump that we have on there for drawing the DEF on or pumping it off. One of our popular options and we've kind of created some packages over the years, so we have what's called our signature package. And one of the items included in that, one of the options is our solar maintainer. So it's a high quality grade solar panel that mounts to the top. So when you do unhook for the truck, say you're leaving that trailer on the job site for a week or so, that thing's going to sit there and be powering that deep cycle battery.
Bryan Furnace (15:24):
Interesting. So you've significantly simplified even the fuel storage process for some of these larger job sites. Instead of me having to find multiple sets of bulk tanks, it's something where we could go park this out at one job site for a week and then drag it over to the other job site, park it there for a week and it's no big deal.
Steven Ile (15:41):
That's it. Or say you've got three job sites working within a five-mile radius in a metro or outside of a metro area, or you're spread out building a new housing development and you've got three or four machines over here and you've got the main part of your fleet over here, a guy can just hop on and move it. You're not tracking equipment. I think I was reading recently that 35% of the cost of ownership of a piece of machinery is on the wear and tear on an undercarriage. We're tracking equipment back and forth on a job site to a stationary tank every day wearing out this equipment. Not only are you wearing the equipment out, you've got an operator there that's not turning dirt that you're paying money. So now with the flexibility of the trailer, just pull right up, top it off, you're also pumping typically. Most stationary tanks you're going to see on job site are 25 to 10 gallon a minute electric pumps.
And they're getting anywhere from eight to 16 gallons where we can pump 35 gallon a minute. So now you're filling the machine three times as fast as well, getting it back moving dirt.
Bryan Furnace (16:42):
Holy smokes. Yeah, that's awesome. And there's so many elements of this that you don't even think about and you just touched on one of the primary ones of, no one thinks about all of the cost associated with taking a wide truck, D6, all the way across a job site and just how much you're wearing that undercarriage out just to get fuel and then cut it all the way back across the job site. That's a cost you're never going to see on paper, but it's 100% contributing to your job site costs and you're now minimizing those because you can drag the trailer over to it.
Steven Ile (17:16):
Yeah. And as times are getting a little bit more challenging and cost of equipment, cost of the inputs with the diesel fuel, and diesel fuel on a job is obviously one of the largest costs for the project, there's just a lot of ways that we feel like the Thunder Creek products can help operators be more efficient, not only, but also drive more profitability into the jobs.
Bryan Furnace (17:39):
Yeah, absolutely. One of my final questions is realistically, I know some Yahoo is going to throw this behind an F150 and go to town and then complain that it's really heavy. Realistically, what size truck are you going to need to comfortably haul this thing around?
Steven Ile (17:55):
For the most part, three-quarter ton and one ton diesel pickup trucks are what pull our units on our day to day. Now, putting my Thunder Creek hat on, you need to pull the trailer with the truck that's ready to pull the GVWR of that trailer legally and responsibly. But for the most part, for the audience out there that's listening, most of your pickup trucks that you're going to have on the job site. And also just a generic way of looking at it too, is if it's got single wheels in the back and it's one tone or under, it's probably not going to put you in a CDL requirement when you look at the GVWR of that truck and trailer and combined too. So if you're trying to check those boxes, hey, this sounds great, we don't want HAZMAT, we don't want CDL. You're probably looking at single wheeled, one ton or three-quarter ton diesel pickup trucks should handle most of our platforms.
Bryan Furnace (18:45):
Gotcha. So that's yet another nice benefit of this is I don't have to go outfit a truck specifically to pull it around. It's literally hook it up to three quarters of my foreman's trucks and they're going to pull around comfortably.
Steven Ile (18:58):
Yeah, absolutely. And then if you need that truck for something else, so you don't need the trailer, you can drop it. It's not awkward to move around. A lot of job sites there using fuel tanks or oil tanks in the back of a service truck. Well, they don't have any room to put anything because they filled it all up with tank space as well. So now you can have a dedicated mechanics truck pull it, drop it if you don't need it, pull it if you do.
Bryan Furnace (19:18):
So my final question for you is, as a viewer that's convinced that this is the greatest thing ever, what kind of lead time am I looking at on one of these units?
Steven Ile (19:27):
So we have dealers across the country and we're adding to that dealer network all the time. Our dealers have stock in inventory, so give us a call, look us up, we'll put you in touch with somebody that's got something on the ground. If they don't, you've got to order something custom. You're looking at 12 to 15 weeks depending on the product type right now.
Bryan Furnace (19:46):
Awesome. Well, Steven, thank you for all this information. This has been extremely informative and the more I learn about this product, the cooler it gets. This is the really unique product.
Steven Ile (19:56):
Well, I really appreciate you letting us share and talk about Thunder Creek a little bit.
Bryan Furnace (20:00):
Well, thanks again, Steven, for coming on the show to talk to us a bit about what makes Thunder Creek trailers different and what sets them apart. So as always, I hope this helps you and your business move forward. We'll catch you on the next episode of The Dirt.