Aztek: LabCorp’s Structurally Sound Road Warrior
The sales group and service reps of Burlington, N.C.-based LabCorp seem to love their Pontiac Aztek SUVs because the vehicle addresses their personal needs - ergonomic, safety, and convenience - and it gets the job done.
Providing Comfort and Durability
LabCorp is a medical technology company specializing in genomic testing and molecular diagnostics. Over the last two years, Lynda Dinwoodie, a 15-year veteran with the company and director of fleet and travel services, has replaced station wagons with 700 Azteks to her fleet, which totals 4,200 vehicles. According to Dinwoodie, the Aztek’s design and height better suit her drivers and have reduced workers’ compensation claims.
“Our drivers don’t have to lift themselves out of the vehicle or climb up into it,” she says. “Everything on the front dash is within reaching distance, and in the back there is a sliding cargo tray so we’re not reaching in to grab coolers and boxes. We can just slide the tray out and everything’s right there in front of us.”
With seats folded flat, the Aztek provides LabCorp drivers comfort and 93 cubic feet of cargo capacity to transport coolers and supplies. The SUVs are driven about 100,000 miles every 22 months, after which they are either sold to employees or returned to the leasing company and auctioned.
According to Dinwoodie, the Azteks are durable considering the number of miles driven. “Anything we run gets run pretty hard, but the Aztecs seem to hold up better than some of the other wagons we had,” she says. “They still obviously have problems, but anything that you run 5,000-10,000 miles a month has some problems.”
Safety Within Reach
Dinwoodie is credited for working with GM to develop the Aztek’s two-stage rear liftgate designed to assist shorter drivers in reaching the gate. The feature is now a standard factory option. “At one of the GM shows about two or three years ago, we discovered someone from General Motors out there showing the Aztek to someone, and he was actually trying to jump to reach the liftgate and pull it down. It dawned on me that I probably have couriers who have a difficult time reaching the liftgate.
When your hands are full you can’t climb up. It’s just a workers’ comp claim waiting to happen,” says Dinwoodie.
Before long, she designed a two-stage strut after experimenting with different prototypes until she found one that worked.
“Our drivers love the Aztek. If I was allowed to put an entire fleet out there, they would take them.”