Kivi Brothers Trucking

Catching hefty praise from heavy hauler

“The durability and strength of those transmissions has been outstanding. It’s nice to have at least one component that you know is not going to break. So we will definitely be using Eaton again in the future.”

Derek Kivi
Operations Manager, Kivi Brothers Trucking


No load is too large for this heavyweight trucking company. And it matters not where that behemoth load may need to be moved.

The territory for Kivi Brothers Trucking is just as gigantic as the company’s cargo. Kivi services all 48 continental U.S. states and Canada.

Based in Duluth, Minn., Kivi was founded by Mark, Jeff and Robert Kivi in 1995 with three trucks. Today, the family owned and operated company is run by their sons and nephews, Derek Kivi, Tyler Kivi and Dakota Kivi, and has 40 power units and roughly 65 trailers. With up to 12 axle configurations in its fleet, the company can transport payloads as high as 140,000 pounds and total gross vehicle weights up to 220,000 pounds.

“We can move just about anything,” says Derek Kivi, operations manager.



Some of those moves, however, can be especially tricky. Derek describes how the company routinely transports a large Hitachi 850 excavator measuring 14 feet 3 inches wide, 15 feet overall height and 127 feet long bumper to bumper for a local construction company.

“We move that one a lot,” says Derek. “Sometimes we’ll have to go up to 200 miles and then into some pretty rough terrain and dirt roads that are so bad you wouldn’t think you could even get a pickup truck in there. It’s incredible.

“We also have moved hundreds of material handlers all over the United States and Canada with weight variations from 100,000 pounds all the way up to 130,000 pounds.”

Another challenge is keeping today’s trucks out of the repair shop.

“With the new emissions requirements, you have a lot of sensors and other components that seem to give us problems,” adds Derek. “It seems like we always have at least one truck that is having some issues because of that.”


Some sensors are better than others. Those on the three Eaton UltraShift PLUS automated transmissions, that he purchased July 2012, have never malfunctioned. In fact, Derek says he has never had any issues with the sophisticated Eaton transmissions.

Available for linehaul and vocational use, Eaton UltraShift PLUS automated transmissions offer tailored performance and efficiency for virtually any given application. All launches and shifts are automated with the use of a self-adjusting electronic actuator for fast, smooth engagements.

The Eaton UltraShift PLUS transmissions in Kivi’s fleet are a part of the Performance Series, all of which employ grade sensing, weight computation and driver throttle commands to make intelligent shift decisions for optimum performance. The fully automated, two-pedal transmissions may be paired with the highest torque engines available in the trucking industry.

Built upon the highly popular 13- and 18-speed Eaton Fuller manual transmissions, the Performance Series includes two models – the Multi-Purpose Highway Performance (MHP) and the Multi-Performance Extreme Performance (MXP).

Automatic, Manual and Low modes provide drivers with complete vehicle control, no matter the weight or road surface. Derek especially likes that.


“One of the nicest features of those transmissions is the ease of operation because you do not have to worry about shifting,” says Derek. “In addition, the shifting is always at the correct point all of the time. You just know that the shifting is getting done to its fullest capabilities.”

Derek believes that shifting precision is also providing Kivi financial gains. He says the UltraShift PLUS-equipped trucks are getting better fuel consumption than those trucks with similar engines and manual transmissions.

“We have definitely noticed some fuel economy improvements,” adds Derek.

Automation also makes those three trucks among the safest in Kivi’s fleet. Because manual changing of gears is not required, vehicle operators can keep both hands on the steering wheels and better concentrate on road conditions. This is especially important when hauling 220,000 pounds of rolling equipment.

“I also like the fact that whenever I have questions about the automated transmissions, my Roadranger representative takes care of everything for me right away,” notes Derek. “They schedule a meeting with us and they come up here and show us what needs to be done.”

Future new truck orders at Kivi will definitely include Eaton UltraShift PLUS transmissions.

“The durability and strength of those transmissions has been outstanding,” he concludes. “It’s nice to have at least one component that you know is not going to break. So we will definitely be using Eaton again in the future.”