In the heart of California, Waterwise Botanicals carved out a space to commercially cultivate cacti and succulents.
With 40 employees, Waterwise serves independent nurseries and landscape contractors. For a nursery operation like Waterwise, efficient transportation is essential.
Tom Jesch, co-founder of Waterwise Botanicals, shared his challenges with owning trucks and how he shifted to leasing to save money and boost operation efficiency.
Challenges of Ownership
Jesch owned a bobtail and semi-tractor in early operations to assist in deliveries.
"We owned bobtail and semi-tractor that constantly needed repairs and had electronic problems. Being owner-operators on our scale, the logistics of maintenance and repairs in this business climate just didn't work," Jesch said.
The decision to move to leasing brought about significant improvements. Tom emphasized, "Leasing handled all our problems. We got a much higher quality truck, and when there's downtime and maintenance, it just goes to the shop, and everything's taken care of. It's a much better deal, a no-brainer."
Waterwise Botanicals turned to PacLease for its truck leasing needs.
Tom explained, "I was aware of PacLease as a fleet manager for a large nursery corporation. We investigated other options but felt PacLease was the best choice."
The company leases a Kenworth T380 for local deliveries and a Kenworth T680 Next Gen with a 76-inch sleeper for longer hauls.
To accommodate the sensitive nature of specialty plants, especially succulents, PacLease worked with Waterwise to design a custom 26-foot box trailer with proper ventilation.
Navigating California's Challenges
Choosing the right type of trucks and leasing company wasn’t Waterwise’s only challenge.
Operating in California poses unique challenges, including high fuel prices and stringent regulations.
Jesch shared, " California presents challenges for businesses like us. The exorbitant fuel prices and stringent regulations create a formidable environment that poses significant operational difficulties. If there were any other states with mountains and an ocean, I'd be there."
To tackle these challenges, Waterwise employs a dedicated person to handle routing, compliance, and inspections.
Despite the difficulties, the company has adopted a proactive approach to ensure compliance and efficient operations.
Driver Retention and Success
One area in fleet Waterwise has had great success with is driver retention. Waterwise has around 35 employees, many of whom have been with the company since the beginning.
Jesch highlighted, "We treat our drivers well, maintain a comfortable working environment, and emphasize safety. Our drivers have been with us for years, and they appreciate the personal touch."
Regarding safety, Waterwise ensures its drivers know not to push themselves and drive when drowsy or overheated.
Their drivers feel safe knowing there is a policy allowing them to pull over if the roads have terrible conditions or aren’t feeling well.
“There were times when we had a driver out 200 miles and they weren’t feeling well. We drove and did a rescue and transferred the driver and product back. We treat our employees like we would our family,” Jesch said.
Waterwise Botanicals exemplifies how a passion for plants and strategic decisions like leasing quality trucks can lead to a thriving business.
In the ever-evolving landscape of the nursery industry, Waterwise continues to bloom, thanks in part to its efficient fleet management and partnership with PacLease.