Getting behind the wheel of Pumper’s Classy Trucks
When you’ve got a good thing going, sometimes it’s best to just stick with it.
For Hartland Septic Service owner Jeff Boutell, that good thing is his fleet of Kenworth pumper trucks. The featured June Classy Truck, a 2015 Kenworth T800, is the company’s fifth Kenworth.
It’s hard to pick a favorite. “We have three other ones just like it,” says Boutell. “If we’re buying brand-new, it’s a Kenworth. If we’re buying something used, we may be forced to get something from another manufacturer. But all our septic trucks are Kenworths. They’re field-proven so we like to stick with them.”
Boutell sticks with a 13-speed transmission on all his trucks, dump trucks included. This way, he says, if his drivers have to drive a different truck one day, it’s all the same for them. “One of these days I might get brave and get automatic, but not yet.”
The Michigan company’s fleet features only aluminum tanks as well, “because we have some funky weight laws up here,” Boutell says. “They don’t let us carry a lot of weight like other states do. So mostly it’s to gain that extra weight, since aluminum is so much lighter than steel.”
Hartland Septic Service does mainly residential pumping, but about 30 percent is commercial work, like pumping for the townships in the area.
To help municipal jobs go smoothly, the tank has another dome welded inside the front portion, which holds about 150 gallons of freshwater. When a truck is offsite doing work for municipalities, often there isn’t water available. “But we’ve got tanks to clean, so that’s why we have water on our trucks,” says Boutell. “This way we can make sure we service them the way they need to be serviced.”
While municipalities are kept happy with efficiency on the job, Boutell has noticed that keeping his trucks looking sharp is good for residential business.
“When we get new pieces of equipment, we hear the phone ring a little bit more. I don’t know if people just see it at an intersection and notice it’s shiny and remember that number … but it always seems like no matter whether it’s a dump truck or a pumper truck the phone just rings more for some reason. So I think having something look clean and nice just helps show everything you’re trying to do for people.”
To keep his fleet in great shape, Boutell has a mechanic come in to his shop to perform routine maintenance. Having one guy really get to know the fleet is a great way to make sure everything is done right. “He does all our maintenance on all our trucks, for probably about 25 years now. So he’ll come and put them in the shop and he does all our annual inspections, all the oil changes, all the maintenance, all the brakes. … He takes care of everything.”
He may not have a favorite, but there’s nothing Boutell would do differently with this truck. “Every time you build one it turns out a little bit different, but this one turned out pretty nice.”