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Food & Beverage, Dash Cams

Markstein Sales Company

“Samsara has saved us more than 3 times the investment in a very short 18 months.”

Tom Roberts, Director of Operations at Markstein Sales Co.

California-based regional distributor of Anheuser-Busch and Constellation brand beers relies on Samsara dash cams to improve fleet safety, save money, and boost driver engagement.

  • AI Dash Cams reduced at-fault incidents by 83% and saved Markstein over $100,000 per year

  • The Samsara Safety Inbox enabled quick and easy video retrieval to speed up driver exoneration

  • Real-time alerts provide important safety updates on-the-go to enable remote driver coaching

Meet Markstein Sales Company

What started back in 1919 with just a horse, wagon, and six cases of beer, Markstein Sales Company now distributes more than 3.5 million cases of Anheuser-Busch and Constellation brand beers across Northern California every year.

Built on a firm foundation of great people, great beer brands, and more than 100 years of history, Markstein is committed to delivering excellent customer service to their 1,500+ customers. In addition to great service, Markstein prides themselves on their safety-first culture and are focused on making sure their 50 vehicles and drivers are safe on the road at all times.

After a few accidents served as a wake up call that their current safety program wasn’t working, Markstein knew they needed to do something more to improve their fleet safety. Without dash cams, the company had difficulty training drivers on defensive driving and no way of protecting their drivers from false claims. That’s why Tom Roberts, Director of Operations at Markstein Sales Co., began looking for a dash cam solution that would help him save money, exonerate his drivers from accidents, and coach drivers on defensive driving tactics.

Get driver buy-in from day one

Getting driver buy-in can be one of the biggest challenges of rolling out a dash cam system. Luckily, Roberts found a way to get his drivers excited about dash cams; before rolling out Samsara dash cams across Markstein’s entire fleet, Roberts selected his top driver to pilot the system and provide initial feedback. “Inclusion of your drivers is important,” said Roberts. “You need to get your drivers to be advocates of the system, and then it’s easy.”

“Once we started sharing the videos, drivers thought the cameras were awesome.”

After the one month pilot concluded, Roberts’ top driver became his team’s biggest dash cam advocate. “Showing the drivers the footage of things they did right and telling them how great they are really helps,” added Roberts.

Soon, drivers were talking to each other on a daily basis about dash cams—noting the different ways that the cameras helped their jobs. Eventually, showcasing safe driving footage became a big part of Markstein’s safety-first culture. “At first, drivers didn’t really care one way or another about dash cams but once they saw the videos they thought it was awesome,” said Roberts.

Reducing at-fault accidents by changing driver behavior

With a mix of large and small vehicles for delivery and sales, Markstein Sales Co. faced approximately 12 at-fault accidents per year, averaging anywhere from $72,000-$120,000 in cost. Before dash cams, Roberts felt helpless. He had no easy way to monitor and improve driver behavior.

But from the very first day the dash cams were installed, Roberts noticed a change in his team’s driving habits. “If people know you’re paying attention to what they're doing, they will do a better job. Forward-facing cameras changed behavior,” said Roberts.

But Roberts is most interested in focusing on the positive, “We want to see the great things they’re doing and highlight their great driving skills.” One way Roberts has improved driver behavior is by focusing on the positive and showing safe driving footage to his drivers during their monthly meetings. “We didn’t implement dash cams to surveil or try to fire our drivers,” said Roberts. Using footage from his fleet’s Samsara dash cams, he showcases examples of safe turns and smart delivery tactics. In addition, he shows examples of unsafe driving to teach drivers of what to avoid in the future.

“Samsara has had a positive effect on the culture of our drivers.”

During the meetings, Roberts said, “all of the drivers comment on what the driver should have done in that situation. It’s an excellent way of coaching and developing my drivers and including them in the learning process.”

In 2018, Markstein Sales Co. went 258 consecutive days without an at-fault incident and reduced their at-fault incidents by 83%, thanks to the coaching and training enabled by Samsara dash cams.

Speeding up driver exoneration with video retrieval

Without dash cams, Markstein found themselves without a defense to several false claims every year. Since their branded trucks are more susceptible to false claims, finding a solution to defend themselves and exonerate their drivers was a high priority. Not only did dash cams help provide exonerating evidence, but accident footage actually helped speed up the driver exoneration process for Roberts and his team.

After one incident left $12,000 worth of damage to one of Markstein’s vehicles, Roberts was able to retrieve the dash cam footage in minutes, exonerate his driver from blame, and send the evidence to the other driver’s insurance company. The insurance company accepted liability within just 15 minutes, and the Markstein vehicle was repaired in the body shop just two days later—all thanks to the dash cam footage.

In a separate instance, a transport tractor-trailer was delivering beer to the Markstein facility at 4 a.m. one morning when the driver forgot to set his brake, causing his 53-foot trailer to ram directly into one of Markstein’s vehicles. Instead of alerting someone, the driver left the facility because no one was around. Luckily, Roberts was able to pull the dash cam footage from his vehicle that showed exactly what happened, send it to the transport company, and settle the claim the same day.

Using dash cam footage to improve route selection

Routes don’t always take driver safety into account. One morning, Roberts received an alert for a harsh turn, so he decided to investigate. When he looked at the video in his Safety Inbox, he watched his driver make a risky U-turn through a busy intersection. Although the driver made the U-turn successfully and without incident, Roberts called him to ask why he made the unsafe choice instead of choosing a different route.

After the driver explained that the routing software instructed him to make the U-turn, Roberts called his routing manager to try to find an alternate route that didn’t require the dangerous turn. Thankfully—due to Roberts’ proactivity—he was able to identify the problematic route and work out a solution before something bad happened.

Protecting brand value with dash cams

At-fault incidents didn’t just cost Markstein time and money—they affected their partnerships, too. As a licensed distributor of Anheuser-Busch beer products, Markstein’s trucks often feature logos of prominent beer brands—like Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Stella Artois—on the side of their trailers. This makes each of their trucks a moving target since some people assume a big brand like Anheuser-Busch means a big payout.

“Dash cams can save our job because people see Budweiser and see dollar signs,” explained one Markstein driver. Roberts added, “People don’t always know Markstein, so if we get in an accident, they call Anheuser-Busch, which has an impact on our relationship with them.”

In fact, upholding the public image of their brand is a key component of their wholesaler equity agreement, the document that details the terms of their partnership.

“If the Bud Light truck is driving around the city cutting people off, you’re probably not going to buy Bud Light the next time you go to the store,” said Roberts. “This is a hidden impact of not having dash cams to train drivers on safe driving behaviors.” By helping them reduce at-fault incidents by 83%, Samsara has given Markstein newfound confidence that they are representing Anheuser-Busch with professionalism, so they can continue to grow their relationship.

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