The story in beverage distribution for at least the past 20 years has been the shift from sideload vehicles to bulk trailers. That trend remains, but it’s starting to become clearer that it’s unlikely sideloaders will ever be completely eclipsed. In fact, wholesalers are finding them to be rather useful in the current beverage delivery landscape.
According to Brian Johnson of Hackney USA and Kidron Beverage Trailers, there’s been an uptick in eight- and 10-bay bodies mounted on non-CDL chassis (those with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) less than 26,000 pounds). The biggest reason relates to the most common narrative across the commercial driving industry: it’s been extremely difficult to find, hire and retain CDL drivers. Going to the lower GVWR chassis substantially increases the driver pool and could potentially save the fleet money on insurance.
Johnson estimates that the company’s sales are 80% bodies and 20% trailers — numbers that were reversed five years ago.
To keep beverage deliveries humming along, here’s a synopsis of what’s suppliers are offering.
Hackney, a unit of ST Engineering, offers bodies and trailers for beverage delivery vehicles of many sizes, including its Sidekick body, designed for the lightest duty. The four-bay Sidekick includes a lot of the same features of the larger units — all-aluminum construction, adjustable bay shelving, bottom rail power step and rear-mounted hand truck. The Sidekick is compatible with the Fort Transit 9,950 and 10,360 GVW cabs.
Mickey Truck Bodies also offers a range of sideload units to satisfy the demands of today’s distributors. Standard features include an all-aluminum body, all-weather Door-Loc system, structural sleeve-fitted corner and gusset castings, padlocking lock handles, heavy duty all-aluminum bumper, an electric backup arm and more. Optional features include a rear camera system, built-in shelving hand grip, an “easy shift” shelving system, refrigeration/insulation capability, keg floors, flip-out steps, in-bay heavy-duty grab handle, safety delivery mirror and mount, and more.
Quebec, Canada-based manufacturer Cambli recently announced a renewed online presence for its Hesse body and trailer brand, with the launch of the grouphesse.com website about a year ago. On the single or tandem-axle trailer side, Hesse offers all-aluminum sideload options featuring door counts ranging from 10 to 24, at a variety of GVWRs. With the slogan “Rethinking the Box,” Hesse’s body offerings range from two to 14 doors, with many of those configurations compatible with chassis well below the maximum allowable for operation by non-CDL drivers.
Hesse touts its reduced servicing requirements, as well as the quality of its roll-up doors, track wear strips and seals that it says are designed to protect payloads from the elements.
Triple B Truck Body
Triple-B boasts more than 50 years in the aluminum beverage truck body business and offers units ranging from four-bay straight frame mount bodies to 14-bay drop frame mount bodies, with all roll-up doors, all insulated doors or a combination of both. The undermount locking system helps to eliminate scratched doors and deters theft. Standard features include replaceable roll-up door track liners, top, bottom and vertical door seals, Extend-a-Grip hand-hold extrusion, recessed finger door panels, all recessed seal beam lighting and step bottom rail. Some optional features include special bay heights, widths and/or depths, removable shelves, insulated bays, refrigerated bays and reinforcement for kegs or water racks.