4 Ways This Heavy Haul Contractor ‘Overdelivers’ in Ontario

DLP Heavy Haul Ontario CanadaPaolo “Paul” Piovesan started his company, DLP Heavy Haul in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, in 2004. He had been working for another company as a driver and heavy equipment operator for 15 years.

When the owner of that company passed away, things started to change. “They started to downsize a bit and begin moving in a different direction,” Piovesan recalls. “I wanted something different. I wanted to go bigger.”

The heavy haul company Piovesan has now owned for the past 17 years has been successful for four reasons:

• Hardworking, loyal drivers
• Willingness to provide more demanding haul services
• Excellent fleet maintenance and uptime
• Willingness to diversify into other services customers need

Starting slow, growing fast

Back in 2004, the first thing Piovesan did was contact his friends at a local equipment dealership. “I called them and said, ‘Hey listen, guys. If I decided to go out on my own, would you support me?’ They said, ‘Of course.’ Then I got some financial backing through OEM financing to help me get started.”

Piovesan’s initial fleet consisted of a 2004 Peterbilt tractor, one jeep dolly and a 4-axle float trailer. He started delivering heavy equipment for that dealership he’d approached. Once word got out, requests for Piovesan’s services started pouring in. Today, DLP Heavy Haul serves a range of customers including equipment dealerships, industrial facilities, construction companies, quarries and landscaping companies. “Right now we have close to 150 clients,” Piovesan points out.

DLP Heavy Haul’s growth happened rather quickly.

“I still have the original box of business cards I made up in 2004,” Piovesan says, alluding to the fact that didn’t have to hand many out before business was booming. There was a lot of demand for heavy haul operators — and an even stronger appetite for those that did it well and provided excellent service.

“A lot of people already knew me from the many years I drove for that other company,” Piovesan says. When they saw that Piovesan was starting his own company that would be capable of hauling larger assets, the phone started ringing.

“We grew quickly, and we actually grew right along with our customers,” Piovesan says. “They’d call to tell me they were getting a larger piece of equipment and were hoping I could haul it. So I went out and got another truck and trailer so I could.”

DLP Heavy Haul’s fleet has grown twelvefold since its early days.

“We have 37 assets on the ground that are licensed, plated and in operation,” says John Battista, Piovesan’s business partner. “That includes 13 tractors or power units, with the balance being a combination of floats, jeeps, boosters and beam floats. We are also in the process of getting a new five-axle trailer, as well as three new tractor units with full bunks.”

heavy hauling ontarioGreat drivers hold the keys to success

Knowing the right people and having a good reputation have been huge factors in Piovesan’s success. The ongoing success of his company, though, is credited to his employees.

As Piovesan and Battista attest, heavy haul companies have to provide great service. That means working long hours, nights and weekends. “A lot of people in this business won’t do that,” Battista says. “We can offer these services because our employees are more than willing to do it.”

Piovesan and Battista do what they can to encourage that willingness.

“Our trucks are spec’d out with the best possible bunk capabilities because our drivers will often spend the evening hours on the side of the road,” Battista says. “They often haul for large civil contractors that don’t work at night. Many heavy haul companies won’t do this, but we’ve gotten very good at it. Because of the excellent base of drivers we have, we have no problem with this type of work. By Thursday afternoon, we have driver after driver asking if there are any weekend jobs available.”

“We have a good driver base that has been with us for at least 12 years,” Piovesan adds. “We just don’t have a high employee turnover. That plays into our success, too. This is a relationship business. Our customers know our drivers by name. I never want to get so big that we end up losing that. Some of our drivers have even struck up personal relationships with equipment operators they’ve met on the jobsites they deliver to.”

DLP Heavy Haul’s drivers take a lot of pride in what they do. Case in point, when someone completes a delivery, the first thing they do after hopping out of the cab is snap a photo for Instagram. “For our drivers, this is their life,” Battista says. “They are also very loyal, and we’re lucky that way.”

Employee loyalty doesn’t just happen by accident, though.

“When we buy a new truck, we tend to go a little above and beyond,” Piovesan says with a chuckle. “John (Battista) likes to say, ‘We buy $60,000 worth of chrome, lights and stainless steel — and the OEM throws the truck in for free.’ I love that saying. A lot of people think chrome doesn’t make you money. But I’ll tell you what, chrome keeps good drivers with us — and that helps us make money and keeps everybody happy.”
Taking uptime up a notch

The best drivers and most tricked-out trucks are of no use if the trucks aren’t up and running. DLP Heavy Haul has taken an interesting approach to fleet management. Many fleets handle basic preventive maintenance services in-house while outsourcing repairs to local dealers. DLP does the opposite.

“I work closely with our staff mechanic to manage the fleet,” Battista says. “With the exception of one truck, our entire fleet is running the same engine, transmission and rear-end specifications. Because of this uniformity, we have gotten used to the common problems. Our mechanic is a certified technician with master’s credentials through PACCAR. He treats our fleet as if it were his own. We then use local dealerships to do our lube services and things like that. Those dealers have been great to work with. They allow us to schedule services when it’s more convenient for us, like in the evening. But having one person repair our trucks and stay on top of things has been a big help. Uptime is through the roof and our expenses and downtime have pretty much subsided.”

Water TruckDiversification adds value

Piovesan and Battista first became business partners in 2015 when they founded a new company, C.V. Quarry & Contractor Water Services. Piovesan had recognized an underserved need in the construction industry. The two joined forces to help serve it.

“Many of our construction customers were asking if we knew anybody with a water truck they could hire,” Piovesan says. “John (Battista) and I got to talking and decided to do it ourselves. We haul a lot of mobile crusher units, but they never got washed properly. So now we can hire ourselves to wash them.”

Piovesan and Battista had a 6,800-gallon water truck custom built for their new operation. From there the fleet has grown to include three trucks and two trailers, with another one of each on the way later this year.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 played an influential role in the duo’s ability to start a water truck business. Piovesan and Battista met with an exhibitor and struck up a deal to purchase some essential parts for their custom-built truck.

The ability to see so much equipment is the sole reason why Piovesan has attended each of the past three shows. He even brings some of his employees with him. “We get a lot of ideas at CONEXPO-CON/AGG,” Piovesan relates. “I love it. I just love it.”

Now Piovesan and Battista have even more reason to attend the next show in 2023. The duo has launched a third business, Precision Milling. They actually purchased their first milling machine at the 2020 CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Precision Milling’s fleet also includes two skid-steer loaders.

Battista says there’s a good chance they’ll add another milling machine and skid steer in the near future. They are also awaiting delivery of a sweeper they found and purchased at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020. There is definitely room to grow the new milling business.
As for the heavy haul business, Battista says growth will be modest, at best. “We have around 21 employees right now, which is manageable,” Battista says.

“We want to remain a very close-knit company,” Piovesan adds. “I find that the bigger you get, the further away you get from your customers. That is the last thing we want to happen.”

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