Getting behind the wheel of Pumper’s Classy Trucks.
As the saying goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
Cody Mitchell, owner of Central Septic Service, takes that motto to heart when it comes to his fleet, including the 2006 Freightliner added in June 2015 that was a featured Classy Truck in the November issue of Pumper.
“Every truck that we have we set up ourselves,” he explains. “We purchase the tank, we buy a cab and chassis, and we start from scratch to set the whole thing up.”
And it’s a well thought out process every time, especially with years of industry experience under his belt. “Before we set up a truck, we try to sit down and think about what we need and little things we can do to make it beneficial and easier to work with,” he says.
Central Septic Service’s fleet comprises two Internationals, a Ford and one other Freightliner, which made this most recent purchase an easy one for Mitchell. “We’ve had good luck with (our other Freightliner), so we decided to go with another one.”
Still, there was a significant chunk of time spent updating the ’06 Freightliner after it arrived in the shop. First he had to remove the curbside van body that originally came on the chassis, and then shorten the frame about 6 feet. The air tank had to be relocated and the exhaust system rerouted, as well. “We did so much stuff to get that set up,” Mitchell says.
In-house accessories came after the basics were covered, which include the rear bumper, bucket rack, snake rack and more.
“We didn’t work on it continuously, only when we had time. From when we purchased it, I would say it was probably three months or so getting it all ready to go. … We did the whole 9 yards on it, but we didn’t have to paint it, so that was a plus.”
Mitchell might not have had to paint the cab to coordinate with the company colors of blue and white, but all the lettering on the tank was done in-house. He used stencils to ensure the lettering was straight, then filled them in with paint — a process that took about a day and a half, “a couple of days, tops. It’s time-consuming, but it’s not too bad,” he says.
He chose a Pik Rite 3,500-gallon steel tank for this rig, steel being a personal preference. “I don’t have anything with aluminum tanks, and the competitors in the area who have aluminum tanks, I haven’t heard very good things about them as far as the life span they get and the cost difference.”
The tank size was an upgrade from others in his fleet, jumping up from 2,200 gallons to 3,500. This is one of the factors that sets the ’06 Freightliner apart from the other trucks. “It’s got more capacity, for one. And it has a continuous-duty pump on it where the other ones don’t have that.”
The 10-speed transmission wasn’t the ideal selection, but Mitchell was OK with it since the rest of the truck fit the bill so well for his needs. “If I could have found an automatic that was in the same price range, I would have gone with that. But that’s what it had, and the truck was what I was looking for, so that’s what I went with,” he explains.
Maintenance on the 10-year-old truck is the same as the rest of the fleet, which also falls under the in-house umbrella. “As far as our maintenance and repair work, we do everything in-house, unless it’s something where it needs to be plugged into a computer. If it does, we take it back to a dealer,” he says.
After using the rig for more than a year, Mitchell says he wouldn’t build it differently. “I’m pretty happy with it, as far as the way we have it set up. And the tank from Pik Rite — I’m tickled to death with that. I think if I was going to purchase another truck like this one, I’d do everything the same.”
At the end of the day, it’s important to Mitchell that Central Septic Service maintains a classy fleet. “We do the best that we can to have a clean and professional reputation. As you know, people look at the septic industry a certain way. Keeping our trucks clean and looking good, that’s what we do to hold that professional look.”