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Prime’s new fleet director looks to diversify

Kevin Bergman moves from information technology department to the business side

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Prime Inc. has a new fleet captain.

The national trucking company earlier this year named Kevin Bergman as its director of fleet maintenance for all terminal locations in the United States.

“I wanted to make a change and get more on the business side,” he said.

Bergman previously worked in the information technology department. Now, he oversees Prime’s fleet of 6,500 trucks and 11,000 trailers that operate nationwide. He’s been in the role on an interim basis since July 2018, following 10 years as operations and IT development officer.

“For a company like Prime, it’s a pretty big job,” said Tom Crawford, president and CEO of the Missouri Trucking Association.

Typical fleet manager responsibilities, Crawford said, are handling the specifications of new vehicles, staffing the maintenance department, training technicians and ensuring equipment is safe on the road.

“Industrywide, just the staffing is one of the big challenges,” Crawford added. “Everyone hears about the need for drivers. The same type of push is out there for techs and skilled workers that are turning wrenches and checking computer screens.”

According to past Springfield Business Journal reporting, the over-the-road driver shortage is in the ballpark of 60,000 nationwide and could reach 175,000, if current national economic growth continues.

As fleet maintenance director, Bergman oversees roughly 600 associates in 11 areas: tractor, trailer, trailer rebuild, windshield, alignment, tires, auxiliary power, parts, road assist, washing and detailing.

As the national fleet maintenance director, he works with terminals in Pittston, Pennsylvania, and Salt Lake City, along with satellite terminals in Laredo, Texas; Shelbyville, Tennessee; Olney, Illinois; and Decatur, Indiana.

Bergman said he handles “pretty much anything that has wheels on it and some things that don’t have wheels.”

Bergman is spearheading new initiatives involving tire shredding and retreading, as well as an expansion of Prime’s container business.

“We are starting next month, hopefully in mid-April, a tire shredding company,” he said.

Prime plans to team up with industry firms Transport America Inc. and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, along with local tire vendors like Ozarko Tire Centers Inc., to collect tires and bring them to its Springfield facility for shredding into rubber mulch, dust and other uses.

“They’re very happy and can’t wait to move forward with it,” Bergman said of officials at Ozarko Tire Centers.

Bergman said Prime plans to sell the shredded rubber in the wholesale market. The mulch also would be used around the Prime campus.

“We’ll be producing millions and millions of pounds of shredded rubber,” he said. “We’re recycling green as much as possible.”

Bergman said Prime also is currently researching doubling its capacity for its intermodal rail shipping containers.

“It’s early in the conversation,” he said, noting no timeframe has been established.

In addition, Bergman said Prime officials are exploring selling retreaded tires in the wholesale market while still satisfying Prime internal tire needs. And Prime is starting up a quick-lube oil changing bay, Bergman said, to make it easier on the drivers and cut down on maintenance time.

Bergman began working overnights in Prime’s computer room in 2000 before becoming a systems administrator a few years later, a position he held for seven years before taking his new role.

He succeeds Paul Higgins as director of fleet maintenance, who is now the director of procurement. Bergman said Higgins is in charge of buying trucks, trailer deals and other equipment.

“Kevin’s natural ability to identify opportunity, address challenges and create solutions made him a solid choice for this key position,” said Robert Low, founder and CEO of Prime, in a news release. “He’s been a passionate and motivated Prime Inc. associate for over 20 years, and I am excited for what he’s already done and what’s he about to do at Prime Inc.”

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