Dickinson Fleet Services offers mobile maintenance services to private and commercial fleets throughout the United States.
By Stephanie Crets
Dickinson Fleet Services began in 1997 as a three-shop company, but has grown to become the largest independent fleet maintenance company in the United States. The company is based in Indianapolis, but it has 19 maintenance facilities with 250 mobile maintenance operations, servicing clients in 37 states with plans to continually expand.
“We’re constantly building trucks, so we build our trucks in Indianapolis at our own facility,” Executive Vice President Ted Coltrain says. “As quickly as we build trucks, we’re putting technicians in them and growing our footprint. As we get opportunities and markets in terms of densities, we’ll add a shop.
“Plus, all of our trucks are built the same with the same tools and equipment. Once the technicians learn how to operate one, it’ll be the same setup. It allows us to deliver the same levels of service to customers because all tools and equipment are the same.”
A typical customer is a private or commercial fleet. Private fleets haul their own products and usually don’t employ mechanics, which means they need the help of Dickinson Fleet Services to service their vehicles. Most private fleets work regular business hours with their trucks returning to their headquarters in the evening – and that’s when Dickinson Fleet Services arrives.
“We work customer hours, not shop hours,” Coltrain explains. “We work when the trucks are available to be worked on. That’s how we position ourselves against brick and mortar. If you look at the private dedicated logistics companies, they just facilitate transportation of goods. They’re in this predicament of having trucks out in the day, but we come in and fill that void in the evening.”
Being able to deliver not only a consistent level of service, but in a mobile environment across the United States truly makes Dickinson Fleet Services unique. “There are a lot of mobile companies out there but none that have the systems and processes to deliver consistency in that environment,” Coltrain says. He compares it to e-commerce taking off in the retail world, with goods and services delivered directly to the customer. “We’re kind of the e-commerce of the truck maintenance/service industry without them having to take vehicles to shop,” he adds.
But the company does have shops scattered throughout the country for repair jobs too large or technically complicated to do out of a mobile maintenance vehicle. “All of our trucks are set up to do great preventative maintenance,” Coltrain says. “Sometimes during preventative maintenance you identify repairs that need to be at a shop. Then, we’ll facilitate that and figure out the scope to get these vehicles to our own shop. We take advantage of those opportunities and that’s how we’ve grown our shops.”
Since the company’s inception, Dickinson Fleet Services strives to not only bring a high level of service, communication, safety and quality to its customers 24/7, it also focuses on maintenance excellence. “We’re very forthcoming with our customers in what we set out to do in those areas,” Coltrain notes. “Our goal is to keep customers for life.”
Dickinson Fleet Services wants to bring that same level of satisfaction to the people on its team. Finding service technicians is a challenge in the industry, according to Coltrain, but the mobile maintenance units offer technicians something more unique and complex than the average truck maintenance company. Every technician at Dickinson Fleet Services receives autonomy, wears several different hats and is compensated much higher than a typical shop technician.
“We offer something very unique and that’s helped us overcome some of those challenges,” Coltrain says. “We’re in the middle of our national technician competition. But with the team we’ve developed here, you can see the enthusiasm of them on up through management.
“The truck maintenance and repair business is traditional and we’ve reinvented the way we do business,” he adds. “Everyone recognizes that and is enthused about it. Additionally, the growth we’ve had over the last five years has been unheard of. Everybody’s excited about it and it really creates a great work environment for our company. We’re really proud of what we’ve created.”
Specialty: Fleet maintenance