Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies, Rice Lake, Wis., is a leading supplier of refrigerated bodies for dairy fleets. For more information call 800/922-8360 or visit johnsontruckbodies.com.

Specing a refrigerated truck body is something no fleet manager takes lightly. It is the most important safeguard during transportation-the largest and potentially weakest link in the cold chain. It also carries a substantial price tag-up to $40,000 per body with refrigeration.

Two fleet managers from sister Midwest dairies are proving that an initial investment in quality can save tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. They are participating in a remounting program that puts refurbished Johnson refrigerated truck bodies on new chassis at a cost of less than one-third the purchase price of a brand new body.

Jim Zarda, transportation dir. at Roberts Dairy in Omaha, Neb. and John Aldred, fleet mgr. at Hiland Dairy in Springfield, Mo., have both purchased Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies equipment for 15 years. They found that the fiberglass construction yielded durability and quality superior to steel bodies.

"The elements were just taking too much of a toll on our steel bodies," said Zarda. "We were having to do too much repair to keep them useable, and they were just rusting out too quickly. We switched to fiberglass bodies because we wanted to get 30 years of service out of a body and we couldn't do it with any brand, other than Johnson."

At Hiland, John Aldred maintains a fleet of 300 medium duty trucks, and typically replaces truck chassis in his after about 15 years of service. This year, the trucks due for retirement were the first to carry Johnson refrigerated truck bodies. Upon examining the bodies, he realized they were in good enough condition to hopefully last another 15 years.

Both managers invest in a little refurbishing. Hinges, hardware and door seals are replaced with new parts from Johnson. With a new coat of paint, new graphics and patching of any dings in the fiberglass, the truck bodies look almost new.

Combined, Zarda and Aldred have remounted 21 Johnson bodies 15 years or older to brand new chassis.

This is an abbreviation of the distribution and logistics article which will appear in the November issue of Dairy Foods magazine.