Photo: Moore & Balliew Oil Co.
South Carolina-based Moore & Balliew Oil Co. prefers to use local service providers for its fleet's maintenance.

Fleet pilots new service provider network

June 20, 2022
A new digital tool, Michelin's Maestro Marketplace, allows fleets to identify service providers, view availability, and book appointments. It also gives smaller fleets access to a larger network of service providers.

Downtime is a killer for any fleet operation. But a vehicle failure for South Carolina-based Moore & Balliew Oil Co.’s fleet, which hauls bulk fuel, diesel exhaust fluid, and lubricants, can be catastrophic.

Garth H. McDonald, fleet manager for Moore & Balliew Oil, manages a fleet of 11 power units—tankers and box trucks—that haul products to Exxon Mobil sites throughout seven counties in South Carolina and to some distribution centers in North Carolina and Georgia. The trucks can travel 200-plus miles a day. Then, when they reach their destination, they sit idle for long periods, pumping out product.

“We use them and abuse them for sure,” McDonald said of the fleet’s equipment. “Those power units are constantly moving, and they are high idle time, so we have to keep everything maintained otherwise you have a failure—and a failure in our industry causes a big mess.”

The fleet outsources maintenance for all its equipment. Whenever possible, McDonald prefers to utilize vendors within the local area, but the reality is that sometimes area service providers don’t have the additional resources to get trucks in as needed.

Furthermore, the company’s equipment regularly travels the I-85 corridor, so if a gasket blows or another vehicle-related incident occurs on the road, the truck could be stuck two hours away from home base and its familiar service providers.

“We have a good partnership with our local vendors, but we need to make sure that we have additional resources when they can’t fit us in,” McDonald said. “There is not enough help for everyone, so it’s harder and harder to get service appointments and things taken care of. Having more feathers in your cap is always a great opportunity.”

After the success the fleet has had implementing Michelin’s tire program, McDonald decided to pilot a new offering from Michelin: an expanded maintenance network that connects fleets directly to available and vetted service providers in the area.

Michelin’s Maestro Marketplace provides a digital tool that allows fleets to identify service providers, view availability, and book appointments. It also gives smaller fleets access to a network of service providers with preset rates and standards, explained Robyn Conrad, director of marketing for Michelin Services & Solutions.

“One of the biggest challenges when booking outside maintenance is trusting they have chosen a quality, reliable service provider,” Conrad said. “Many fleets will risk citations, or even breakdowns, when traveling out of their home market because of this challenge.” 

Michelin’s pilot program is ramping up in several states in the Southeast, with plans for a wider geographic footprint by the end of the year. The menu of available services and participating service providers will also continue to expand.

As a participant in the Michelin Maestro pilot program, among Moore & Balliew’s three locations, the fleet now has access to 10 different shops it can do business with.

“Obviously, we are still in the beta program right now, but having those 10 shops with Michelin backing behind them is great,” McDonald said.

“Having that opportunity for that standard service maintenance has become valuable when area shops can’t get trucks in,” he added. “The platform allows us to get in and serviced and back on the road. And I don’t have to push my PMs outside of my scope—whether that be 20,000 miles or 15,000 miles, whatever it is.”

McDonald has also been using the platform for emergency services and to find vetted service providers maybe 10 miles away rather than 100—ultimately saving the fleet money on added tow costs.

Moving ahead, McDonald is looking forward to seeing how the Maestro Marketplace expands because it has become a reliable network of resources for his fleet’s day-to-day business.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore is the Executive Editor of FleetOwner magazine. She has reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.