When it comes to trucking companies, NTB is pretty unique. All decisions are made with one purpose: “to honor and glorify the Lord by being the best truckload carrier in our operating region through our service to our customers, employees, and shareholders.” The cascading effects of each decision are evidence of the integrity with which NTB is run.
In a conversation with NTB’s President and CEO, Henry Schwarz, we took a deep dive into the mind of a person who has a passion from his youth for machinery and decades of experience as he has sought to serve the NTB family with those gifts and experience. Faith stirs his heart to seek daily how to best serve the NTB family and passion for this industry causes a constant pursuit to find better ways to fulfill its mission.
Trusted as an Industry Leader
One way that NTB serves its business partners to develop new products is as a beta tester for different trucking components and technology—tires being one of them. Before a company such as Bridgestone or Firestone brings a production tire to market, the tires are tested by a handful of trusted trucking companies, with NTB among them. One of the goals in a recent beta test was to achieve the least amount of road friction with low rolling resistance. The development of such a tire is instrumental in improving fuel efficiency while maintaining safety and life expectancy. NTB plays a part in providing data to produce the best products used by trucking companies across the nation.
Innovation from Within
With his years of experience, Henry Schwarz is well aware of the fatigue drivers experience
from axle misalignment. “If you have alignment that is within, but on the edge of OEM specifications, and the tractor is on a perfectly level surface with no input from the driver after 450 miles it will be 1.8 miles off course. To compensate for that misalignment the driver has to fight that,” causing fatigue.
So, what does a person like Henry do about the problem of misalignment? He, along with his son, developed a laser alignment system to check all of NTB’s equipment. The additional benefits of this decision to improve the driving performance of the trucks were to improve tire wear and fuel economy. When NTB began regularly scheduled alignments using the laser system, fuel economy improved by 4%—that translates to 4% less emissions and lower consumption of resources.
In an effort to keep freight moving, even in the dead of winter, NTB created an HVAC system that uses a hydronics heater (think of a boiler in a house) which heats the engine fluids as they circulate and is integrated with the cab heating system. Henry relayed a story that illustrates how this system works. As Rick Koster, one of NTB’s owners, was making a run in Minnesota with -30°F temperatures, he witnessed that every truck around him was frozen at the end of a sleep period, and waiting for tow trucks. Rick had just slept in a warm cab, woke in the morning to the fuel in his truck measuring at 80°F, his cab at 72°F, and the engine at 160°F. While the heating system was an expensive initial investment, Henry says that fuel economy in winter is optimized. A driver doesn’t necessarily need to understand the system, but they know they are fine when those around them are frozen.
The cascading effects seen in these examples are an indication of how making one good decision can have an effect on so much more than its intended target goal.
As an EPA SmartWay Transport participant, NTB strives to actually stay ahead of SmartWay’s requirements and, as Henry stated, “In reality, the goal is to always live beyond SmartWay. NTB has lived in that world since 1985.”
All components NTB uses in their trucks are chosen carefully with efficiency, driver comfort, and safety in mind. The choices of installing a transmission that will preserve the most amount of energy and selecting an alternator with an 80%, as opposed to only 60%, conversion rate are clear indicators of NTB’s commitment to doing good.
As a person who has been called upon to be good to others, it is clear that Henry Schwarz not only strives to do what is best for NTB, but is a leader within the trucking industry as a whole.