Tandem Specialized, Inc. – Saving Time and Staying SafeWith Load Covering Solutions

Steve Pollock
February 2021

ST. LOUIS, MI…. If you have ever traveled the state of Michigan, you have probably done a double take when you see one of Michigan’s multi-axle trailers.  These trailers resemble a centipede going down the road, especially when you view one of Tandem’s 53’ 8-axle sleds or Michigan B-trains (doubles).  These loads can legally gross up to 160,000 pounds, which can equate to upwards of 108,000 pounds of payload. While there are a handful of other states that allow multi-axle trailers, they are more restrictive than the state of Michigan and many are landlocked by states that don’t permit them, which is why you’ll rarely see them operating across state lines.

Tandem Specialized, Inc. of Grayling, Michigan and its sister company (Tandem Logistics, LLC) provide trucking & logistics services primarily East of the MS River, but maintains an emphasis on providing flatbed heavy-haul services throughout the state of MI, northern IN & OH.  The company has 37 company owned power units and 57 trailers, consisting of 8-axle flatbeds (sleds), 8-axle B-trains, and a dozen 2-axle trailers as well.  Tandem Specialized hauls building materials consisting of particle board, OSB, dimensional lumber, and shingles with a limited amount of steel and concrete blocks.  Their loads typically average around 150,000 pounds gross.  It takes some special considerations when operating multi-axle trailers, particularly when cornering, select axles must be lifted to enable the trailer to corner properly and avoid scrubbing the tires.  However, the drivers at Tandem Specialized are up to the challenge, which is made somewhat easier with the company providing some of the newest and safest equipment on the road today.   The average age of Tandem’s tractor fleet is 1.5 years old, and they are equipped with the most enhanced safety technology that is available.   Tandem’s all aluminum air-ride flatbed trailers average around 2 years old, and are equipped with disc brakes in all wheel positions, along with automatic tire inflation/deflation systems.

Of special note, is that nearly the entire Tandem Specialized fleet is equipped with Load Covering Solutions’ Windmaster Smart Look Aerodynamic Rolling Tarp System.  The company chose the Load Covering Solutions (LCS) Windmaster Rolling Tarp System for a variety of reasons.  Tandem Specialized Controller and Safety Manager Brian Corbin states, “The LCS Rolling Tarp System saves our drivers about an hour of loading time.  Our drivers love them and appreciate us using them. The LCS system has also helped reduce trailer related Workmen’s Compensation injuries, in particular trailer falls and rotator cuff injuries.  An added bonus is the great graphics on the LCS System that are not only attractive but have helped in our driver recruiting efforts.” 

While many companies experience some fuel savings using LCS Rolling Tarp Systems, the heavy loads Tandem Specialized hauls coupled with irregular ambient temperatures makes it difficult to calculate fuel savings, however, Brian told us that LCS Systems did seem to make a small improvement on some of the units. Tandem Specialized now does the installations and maintenance of their LCS Rolling Tarp Systems in their own shop.

Jeff Gross, Tandem’s President and owner advised, “The introduction of our first rolling tarp system started as kind of a dare from our most tenured driver, Craig Smith (nearing 38 years with the company).  Craig advised he needed to retire because the heavy “throw-tarps” most flatbed drivers use, was beginning to be too much for him. I asked if he’d stick around if we purchased a rolling tarp system for him.  He agreed to stay another year if we did that, so I ordered a system the following week.   Five years later…Craig is still working (albeit part-time), but we have updated nearly the entire fleet with the LCS tarp systems, and I’m very glad we did.”

The Tandem Family of Companies finished construction of a new operations center off 4 Mile Road in Grayling, Michigan in early 2019.  The state-of-the-art facility houses maintenance, dispatch, recruiting and safety.  The new facility is less than ½ mile away from two of its largest customers, allowing the Tandem Team to provide additional specialized services to these accounts.  If you are interested in a career at Tandem Specialized, Inc. please call 989-681-5754.