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Obama praises Safeway for fuel-saving efforts

TEMPE, Ariz. -- President Obama wants the Department of Transportation to implement new fuel efficiency standards for 18 wheelers and other commercial trucks in time for the 2018 model year.

The president made the announcement on Tuesday at a Safeway Distribution Center in Maryland, where he complimented the grocery chain for using trucks with better aerodynamics, tires and larger capacity trailers to improve fuel economy. He was standing in front of a vehicle that he called a "super truck," which was able to achieve a 75 percent improvement in fuel economy over the past year.

Those trucks are in the testing stage and aren't being used yet at the Safeway Distribution Center in Tempe. It supplies product to all 116 Safeway stores in Arizona and Gallup, N.M.

That takes a lot of gas.

"We use anywhere from 120,000 to 140,000 gallons of diesel every four weeks," said Safeway's Tempe Director of Distribution Ron Dodd.

He said that each of the center's huge delivery trucks has two 50 gallon tanks of gas. And they're doing everything they can to squeeze every mile they can out of that gas. "Aerodynamically, we've put fairings on the side of the trailers and on top of the tractors," Dodd said. A fairing is a piece of equipment that reduces drag.

The steps have slightly increased fuel economy to more than seven miles per gallon, on occasion. Dodd says every improvement helps.

They've also done things to reduce the amount of gas that they're using.

"The biggest thing we've done is to increase the amount of products that we can put on each trailer and make fewer trips," said Dodd.

Dodd is proud of his company, which he said is a leader in trying to improve fuel economy and the environment.

"They're experimenting with liquid natural gas, compressed natural gas, and alternative fuels. We're constantly looking at new ways to help improve fuel economy," he said.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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