LORAIN — Sam Burrer figured the 2003 International Tractor rig had about 1 million miles on the odometer.
“It was one of our fleet trucks and from our standpoint, it was due to be retired or traded to a dealer for a new one,” Burrer, vice president of operations for Dutch Maid Logistics trucking in Willard, said.
Instead, the trucking company that hauls fresh produce grown by the firm’s affiliated Wiers Farms Inc. decided the truck still had some life in it.
“We have over 100 trucks, and in the whole scheme of things, we decided to give up a trailer to do some good somewhere,” Burrer said. “It still has two to three years in it.”
And those years will see the truck and its 53-foot refrigerated trailer put to good use by Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, the beneficiary of the firm’s gesture.
“They were pretty excited,” Burrer said of the food bank’s reaction to being informed of the donation.
Julie Chase-Morefield, executive director of Second Harvest, agreed.
“We get a lot of semis come through here, so we know when we see a decent truck,” Chase-Morefield said. “It’s well-maintained and looks good.”
Second Harvest officials traveled to Dutch Maid Logistics to take delivery of the truck, which will become the biggest vehicle in the food bank’s small fleet of four box trucks.
The big rig will make a big impact when it comes to hauling donated food and grocery products to more than 100 food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and after-school programs that Second Harvest serves in Lorain, Erie, Huron and Crawford counties.
“We can usually get 10 pallets of food in the box trucks, and now we’ll be able to more than double that to 22 or 24 pallets,” Chase-Morefield said.
In the past Second Harvest has had to hire rigs to pick up donations of food from sources, including grocery stores and other retail outlets, that were made three times a week.
“We’d get a load and bring it back, unload, and send the truck back out again,” Chase-Morefield said. “The efficiencies in driver time and wear-and-tear on our own trucks will be significant.”
Having the big vehicle also will enable the food bank to use its smaller vehicles to make even more deliveries.
The donated truck, which is in the process of completing required inspections, will be driven by Second Harvest personnel who have commercial licenses.
Formed in 1896, Wiers Family Farm has grown from a tiny 20-acre operation into today’s 2,000-plus acre farm in Willard, Michigan and Florida that supplies lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn and other fresh produce to area groceries and major clients.
The Willard firm has also been a regular contributor of produce to Second Harvest through a state-run program benefiting the Ohio Association of Food banks.
Burrer said the company hopes to donate more tractor-trailers to Second Harvest in the future.
“If we stay blessed the way we have been, we hope to do this in another two to three years,” he said.