Premier Takes Control Of Repairs

After receiving a multiyear contract with Southwest Airlines, Premier Engineering & Manufacturing took a direct approach to backing up its one-hour service promise.


Although the company’s 24-hour service pledge wasn’t new, past a certain hour the calls went to a pager and a cell phone. Now, callers reach a real person who can triage the emergency calls from what might wait until morning.

If it’s an emergency, Derusha talks directly with the operator to identify what the real problem might be. Nothing against the operator, but Derusha says the operator knows just as much as the typical driver knows about a car.

Operator error can’t be ruled out as the cause of “mechanical” problems, particularly with a new vehicle.

“In that case, the operator can get the truck operating again after he realizes the honest mistake he made,” Derusha says.

When the problem is indeed a mechanical failure, Derusha has access to the list of all of the airline’s subcontractors – typically ground handlers who have personnel stationed right at the airport – who are cleared to make the repairs.

Warranty or not, the bills all go to Premier first for review. As part of the new service plan, Premier also has access to the airline’s central database for equipment and can input the repairs made.

MORE HELP

Premier’s three-year warranty was unheard of when Derusha originally put it in place. He says some of his competitors have since added another year to their typical one-year warranties.

The company also offers other help to all its accounts:

  • Summer Inspections: While under warranty, Premier provides two annual check-ups to each unit during the summer months for warranty inspections, and will replace worn components prior to the upcoming season at no charge.

The summer work is vital. Deicer trucks have to work in the worst weather.

“The rest of the time the truck just sits – and that’s the worst thing you can do to a mechanical piece of equipment,” Derusha says.

Derusha’s No. 1 summer maintenance tip: Start the engine at least once a month.

Also, Premier will train or retrain any personnel during the warranty check-up.

  • Spare Parts: New trucks leave Premier with a box of spare parts, such as a blower motor, fuel pump or temperature switch, on board.

That way, subcontractors always have the parts they need for the usual repairs, and Premier saves considerably on shipping those parts next-day air. Premier owns the parts and won’t bill for their use until installed.

  • Delivery Service: Anyone who delivers a Premier truck is also qualified to train the operators, too. All delivered vehicles are also given a thorough inspection since a thousand-mile trip isn’t out of the ordinary.

About the only extra service Premier says a firm no to is offering advice on spraying glycol. That one it leaves up to the airlines and regulators.

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