DeCarolis Truck Rental shop operations: Leading by example

Jason Purvis is using his insights, persistence and a strong work ethic to effectively manage a DeCarolis Truck Rental shop.

Jason Purvis is a firm believer in leading by example. “It’s the best way to get results from our shop staff,” says the Elmira service manager for DeCarolis Truck Rental Inc. “I routinely continue my own leadership and technician training. That helps me stay current with changing technologies so I can guide customers and technicians through the most current repair practices required for our ever-changing fleet.”    

Purvis has been with DeCarolis for nearly 11 years. Currently, he leads shop operations at the lease, rental and service provider’s Elmira location, one of seven facilities the company operates in western and central New York State.

Headquartered in Rochester, New York, DeCarolis Truck Rental provides truck rental and leasing, and full and contract maintenance services. Founded more than 80 years ago, the family-owned business includes the area’s largest distributor of heavy-duty parts for all makes and models of commercial vehicles. DeCarolis is also a member of the NationaLease network.

The DeCarolis shop in Elmira performs about 400 service events each month on lease, rental and customer-owned trucks, tractors and trailers. A large portion of the equipment maintained at the facility is operated by local fleets, and there are several national and regional P&D carriers that utilize its repair services as well. The units range widely in make, model and age and include Freightliner, International, Volvo, Mack, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Hino, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet and Ford trucks and tractors as well as Great Dane, Utility, Hyundai, Vanguard and Kentucky trailers.

The DeCarolis Elmira shop has five bays, including one drive-through and one wash bay. An upcoming expansion will add new service bays for two to four trucks and tractors and two additional trailer bays. The facility, which is staffed by eight technicians, operates around the clock from Monday through Saturday morning and provides 24/7 road service.

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Constant communication

“We have a working supervisor on each shift who oversees daily operations,” Purvis relates. “Most importantly, we all communicate with each other through daily ‘Shift Note’ emails that cover work progress so the next shift knows what’s on their schedule. We use customized e-mails with our customers multiple times a day to relay information about vehicle status so there is no guessing where their equipment is in the maintenance or repair process, or about when it will be completed and ready for service.

“We also communicate about parts to find the best pricing and delivery time frames from our vendors,” Purvis continues. “DeCarolis has a centralized parts ordering system to minimize cost and downtime and to give our shops more purchasing power with vendors. We have parts personnel assigned to us and a proprietary program that allows us to track parts by work order, purchase order, vendor, cost and who ordered it and when it will arrive. Everything is updated in real time.

In the DeCarolis Elmira shop, Purvis notes, shop workflow is managed using a combination of a proprietary work order system known as “BASIS” and a group-edited spreadsheet on Google Docs. “The BASIS program allows us to track work orders in our shop and at all other company shops and at outside vendors,” he explains. 

“The BASIS program allows us to write a work order, look up previous repairs that can be sorted by VMRS code, which shop and technician worked on the vehicle, what parts were used, where the parts were purchased from, and other information such as vehicle arrival and original promise times,” Purvis continues. 

“It also gives us as much information as possible about vehicles that are in our shop,” Purvis adds. “Customers rely on us to maintain their fleets for a high level of reliability and our programs provide that. Preventive maintenance is the core of our service. We always strive to have vehicles looked at only during PMs with no service in between.”

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Customized PMs

Customer vehicles at the DeCarolis shop, according to Purvis, are serviced on customized preventive maintenance schedules based on make, model and application. The PM process includes approximately 140 inspection points, oil changes and component and system needs. 

For example, units that require diesel particulate filter cleanings have them removed once a year and cleaned by the DeCarolis parts operation or a local vendor. That also allows technicians to look at the aftertreatment system and spot premature failures to prevent on-road breakdowns.

Along with PMs, the DeCarolis shop tracks other components and systems following OEM schedules and monitors for automatic updates. In use is a range of manufacturer software, including Cummins Insite with reprogramming capabilities, Detroit DDL, Volvo/Mack PTT, International NEDS and Diamond Logic Builder, Freightliner ServiceLink, Allison, Eaton Service Ranger, ZF Trans Soft, Hino DX-II, Mitsu Xentry, and Meritor, Bendix and Noregon JPRO solutions. For light-duty vehicles, the shop uses OTC Encore. 

DeCarolis also uses the Navistar OnCommand system in conjunction with Geotab GPS tracking to monitor its fleet and prepare for repairs, sometimes days before the unit even arrives at the shop. “If a unit has an issue on the road, those systems allows us to pass on that information to either our road service technician or vendor to better prepare them for the needed repairs,” Purvis explains. “We also use the location information to find the closest vendor, whether it is one of our shops or a NationaLease member facility.

Gauging performance

“Industry SRT and PM times are our guidelines and through these standards we gauge performance,” Purvis says. “If there are time variances, they are analyzed to determine if it is an equipment issue or if we need to adjust our standards. If it’s a technician issue, we can address the training needed.”

There is a strong emphasis on technician training at DeCarolis. “We are firm believers in continuous learning and education,” Purvis says. “We have a training facility in Geneva, New York, and a full-time trainer who works with every level of technician, including new hires. Some of the training educates new technicians using our own PM manuals, and we also use supplier presentations.”

Hands-on training is featured at the DeCarolis facility, including wheel end stands for teardowns and drum and air disc brake system training fixtures that have built-in compressors and brake pedals. Fifth wheel and steer axle stands are in use as well.

When the opportunity arises, as a company DeCarolis always looks to promote from within, Purvis notes. Some technicians at the shop, for example, started on the fuel island or in the wash bay. And that practice perfectly describes his career path at the company, which has taken him from positions as a technician and lead technician to supervisor and now service manager.

“Throughout my career at DeCarolis I have been able to utilize leadership training and the input and experience of my fellow managers to learn the best course of action,” Purvis says. “That not only helps me, but also our entire staff and our customers.”