United Petroleum Transport depends on Mack Anthem® for hazmat transportation
Like many other trucking success stories, United Petroleum Transports began simply—in this case, a solitary truck, a single contract employee and a vision for the future. That vision helped the Oklahoma City-based company grow over the next 60 years into a fleet with hundreds of power units and employees.
“My grandfather, Keith Price, founded UPT as Oklahoma Tank Lines in 1966,” says David Price, executive vice chairman for UPT. “He started with the bare minimum of one truck and a partnership with an independent contract driver, hauling refined motor fuels across Oklahoma. That idea of partnership — actually it’s our mantra — is how we’ve grown our business from the early days.”
Price explains that Oklahoma Tank Lines acquired United Petroleum Transports in the 1980s, and then a decade ago, the company branded itself fully as United Petroleum Transports. Today UPT provides regional bulk carrier services for refined motor and aviation fuels to truck stops, convenience stores and airports across the southern United States. Transport of ancillary products such as liquid asphalt, lube oils and petrochemicals also fall under UPT’s area of expertise, and the company carries petrochemical products across the US and into Canada, including greases, acids, resins, molten sulfur and more.
UPT still works with independent contractors (more than 300), but the company also has branched into its own fleet of 200-plus company trucks. As the company looks to its next 60 years, it’s relying on the Mack Anthems® at its core to propel it into the future.
Up to the Challenge
The transport of hazardous materials can create unique challenges, particularly from a personnel standpoint. UPT requires a force of experienced drivers who are thoroughly trained, licensed and hazmat-certified, with a tank endorsement. Because of this, the hiring pool for these drivers is smaller than it is for companies with a larger array of services. Yet, UPT has grown its driver count over the past few years — even during the COVID crisis.
“The challenge of finding drivers increased during COVID, and that’s when it received the most attention, but the issue had been going on for a while,” Price says. “At the same time, we have increased our driver count over the last two years, in spite of our hazmat and tank endorsement needs, and in spite of COVID.”
Price and Tim Gallagher, UPT’s vice president of maintenance, both credit Mack for helping the company attract drivers.
“Drivers appreciate the reliability of the [Mack] trucks,” says Gallagher. “Reliability stands out because when you look at our out-of-service reports and overall maintenance across all our OEMs, Mack has been the least of our worries. The trucks stay in service, so drivers can go deliver products. Uptime is key.”
A Bulldog on the Hood
According to Gallagher, UPT’s fleet includes Mack Anthems in 2020 to 2024 models, mostly outfitted with day cabs. A smaller portion of the fleet includes sleeper cabs for drivers that transport chemicals and lubricants across the lower 48 states and into Canada. He says the newer Macks have helped UPT attain improved fuel mileage for its regional refined fuel transport drivers.
“I think it’s safe to say that we get seven miles to the gallon, which is good in our line of work,” he says.
Gallagher says what he likes best about UPT’s Mack Anthem trucks are the overall driver features, the power they provide, and their reliability. UPT also has embraced Mack’s GuardDog® Connect. “It’s extremely driver-friendly,” Gallagher says. “If the check-engine light comes on, the driver can call the number, and the technician can provide a diagnosis on the road to determine if it is a bigger issue or not. If the driver is required go to the dealership for a repair, the dealer also already knows the symptoms. The benefit — again — is more uptime. Uptime is key.”
Driver Drew Parsons agrees. “I don’t just like my Mack – I love it,” he says. “It’s the best and most reliable truck I’ve driven. The power and acceleration are excellent. It outperforms anything else I’ve driven, especially when hauling uphill.”
Then there is the solid feel of the Mack Anthem trucks. “Mack is the last to have a steel cab,” says Gallagher. “It’s a very solid cab compared to other OEMs. We also install the RollTek seats, which mitigate rollover-associated risks for drivers for added safety.
And there’s simply the aesthetics of the Mack that bring a lot to the table. It just has a big truck feel.”
Price agrees, adding, “Who doesn’t love a bulldog on the hood? We’ve received a lot of compliments on our Mack trucks.”
Dealers Are a ‘Feather in Mack’s Cap’
Because the company operates out of eight states, UPT relies on several dealers to provide service and support for its Mack trucks. The company purchases its Mack trucks through Bruckner’s in Oklahoma City.
“The dealer network has been great to work with. We always have a Mack representative we can reach out to, and if there is an issue, they get right on it,” says Gallagher. “Our relationship with our dealers is a feather in Mack’s cap.”
Room for Growth
Bulk petroleum product transport has fueled UPT’s growth for almost 60 years, but Price says the company is looking to expand its service operations. “We are still growing our legacy business, but we’re not just focused on the tank world with blinders on. We’re looking at all opportunities that come our way,” he says.
For instance, with operations in Texas and Louisiana and their nearby ports, UPT is getting into some transport of port containers, using its own fleet of trucks. This “side” line of business started organically, Price says, but it is a viable launching point for UPT’s additional growth.
“Simply put, yes — we are a trucking company — but we really are a people business,” Price says. “We believe our main two constituents are our professional drivers and our customers, working together toward a common goal of service and growth.”