Company Upgrades Fleet to Compete in Shale Gas Era [Citizens Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA]

By: James Haggerty, Staff Writer, on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Scranton-based logistics provider recently spent more than $6 million to acquire 50 new truck tractors.

Kane Is Able Inc., which provides warehousing and transportation services and has about 1,000 employees nationally, will replace about 75 percent of its local fleet with the new vehicles, marketing director Alex Stark said.

The lightweight, automatic-transmission tractors will average about 7 miles per gallon, a fuel efficiency increase of at least 40 percent over the vehicles being replaced, Stark said. The investment will save the company about 343,000 gallons of diesel fuel yearly, a $1.3 million reduction in fuel expenses, he said.

Kane's acquisition occurs as the regional trucking sector experiences increasing competitive pressure from the expanding Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.

"It's not a secret that we are battling every day against Marcellus," Stark said. "The new trucks are definitely a selling tool for us."

The regional natural gas industry employs truck drivers with commercial drivers licenses to haul water, stone, sand, pipe and other drilling-related materials.

Local specialized freight trucking employment related to Marcellus Shale development expanded to 11,454 statewide in the first quarter of 2011, up 2.5 percent from the third quarter of 2010, according to the latest state Department of Labor and Industry data.

Some companies hiring drivers with CDLs have trouble filling positions with qualified applicants, said Diane Wren, project manager for the Northeast Pennsylvania Logistics and Transportation Partnership, a regional business, economic development and education consortium.

The gas industry's expansion and growing demand for truck drivers convinced officials at regional CareerLink and job-training administrators to direct more unemployed people to CDL training.

"We are not seeing displaced workers with CDLs," said Lucyann Vierling, executive director of the Luzerne/Schuylkill counties Workforce Investment Board, a state agency that coordinates job training with employers' needs.

"We train a lot of CDL drivers," Scranton CareerLink supervisor Joe DiStasi said. "We don't see many people with CDLs coming through the door because they have the skills that are in demand right now."

Contact Person: James Haggerty, Staff Writer 
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