Mowat Express Ltd. believes in customer service.
When the Mississauga, Ontario, less-than-truckload carrier encountered a narrow alley that kept its trailers from the receiving door of a retailer, Mowat did what any customer-friendly trucker would do. It built a narrow trailer to fit the space.The new piece of equipment, costing $10,600, was constructed to serve Shoppers Drug Mart Ltd.'s newest store. The Toronto chain store, which operates primarily in eastern Canada, opened a new facility in the heart of the downtown area.
"The building where they're located has some unique problems," said Steve Hartery, Mowat's vice president of human resources. "It's an old bank building with the delivery entrance 60 feet down a narrow lane that is just over 7 feet wide."
Conventional truck trailers normally run 8 feet wide and up. None could fit down the narrow alley to reach the new store's receiving door.
Because the intersection where the store is located is always busy and no parking is allowed, Mowat trucks could not pull up in front to make deliveries, said Sam Kopytowski, Shoppers Drug's national director of logistics.
Mowat's drivers had no choice but to use the receiving dock, 60 feet down that narrow alley.
This created a logistical problem for store workers, who had to lug cartons down the alley to the receiving door, then carry them to the back room, said Roger Johnson, the store's receiving manager.
The two companies came to the same conclusion: They needed a truck trailer that could fit within the confines of the small alley.
Mowat turned to Mike Kelly, president of Kelly Trailers Ltd. a Brampton, Ontario, trailer builder, who designed a 6-foot, 3-inch wide by 28-foot-long trailer with roll-up rear and side doors.
The rear door was used to load the trailer at vendors and when the trailer entered the alley, the side door was used for deliveries, Mr. Kelly said.
Mowat paid for the trailer, basing its investment on the amount of business they gained from Shoppers Drug. Mr. Kopytowski said.
Because a conventional tractor couldn't fit inside the alley, Mowat decided to use a Dodge Dakota pickup truck to haul the trailer. Even though the Dodge had the strongest tow of mid-sized pickups tested, the trailer still had to weigh under 4,000 pounds so the pickup could move it, Mr. Kelly said.
Before the new trailer was built, Mowat drivers solved their dilemma the old-fashioned way, Mr. Hartery said: "Our driver would stop his truck, unload his stuff quickly and drive off before the cops came."