Casey Thomas’s business involves a whole lot of driving and a constant struggle to remain profitable while going up against much larger competitors, and Freightliner Sprinter plays a critical role in that effort. Lucky 7 Beverage Company covers the entire state of Oregon, delivering non-alcoholic beverages and bar supplies to hundreds of liquor stores. It’s one of a handful of companies designated as preferred third-party suppliers by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, but most of the others on the list are much bigger. To succeed, Lucky 7 must offer superior customer service, provide amenities the larger firms don’t offer, and keep a tight lid on operating expenses.

“Making deliveries in our new Freightliner Sprinter shows our customers that we are reliable and are investing in our business for the long haul.”

Fuel savings drive customer service enhancements

Service, availability, timeliness, and competitive pricing drive Lucky 7’s business model, Thomas says, and that formula has resulted in a six-fold revenue increase during the past six years. Growth has been fueled by positive buzz, which Thomas generates by attention to detail in ways that are meaningful to his customers. “We still break cases, which our larger competitors won’t do, and we don’t charge for it,” he says. “Unlike them, we don’t charge restocking fees or impose fuel surcharges.”

That kind of value-add demands a tight lid on expenses, and transportation is one of the biggest. That’s why Thomas bought a 2011 Freightliner Sprinter Model 2500 Cargo Van with a 144-inch wheelbase. “We looked at everything out there, with a focus on cargo capacity, payload, driver comfort, and, most importantly, fuel efficiency and expected longevity,” he says. “Nothing comes close to Sprinter.” He was also encouraged by the performance of an older model Sprinter he already had in the fleet, which has more than 215,000 miles on it and which he expects to go at least another 100,000. “The fuel efficiency of the BlueTEC diesel is incredible,” he says. “We bought the new Sprinter in January, and through the first four months of the year our business was up 25 percent, but our fuel costs stayed flat.”