Getting behind the wheel of Pumper’s Classy Trucks.
Some things are simply better when made to custom fit. Trucks are no exception.
That’s the philosophy of Schulteis Pumping of Slinger, Wisconsin, when it comes to updating its fleet. When that time came last year, the company ordered a new 2016 Mack, and had it built out with all the necessary bells and whistles. The truck was featured as Pumper’s Classy Truck in October.
“We always buy brand-new trucks, mainly because then we can outfit them and design them the way we want. It just works out better; we’re able to spec them out to our application and our drivers,” Nathan Hill, co-owner, says. “If you’re buying a used truck, you’re buying someone else’s vision for the truck that they needed for their business.”
Two significant features on the newest rig stand out to Hill. “The first thing was the NVE 2307 blower pump. That seems to be the way the industry is trending right now, with the blower pump: You have the enclosed vacuum; less maintenance; no oil, which is a big thing; and no smoke when you’re pumping.”
The truck’s second “must-have” makes life easier for the drivers.
“The SeeLevel gauge is really a heck of a nice feature. It really helps the drivers know, when they go to their next job, whether they’ll be able to fit it on the truck,” Hill says. “We’re thinking of putting it on our other trucks.”
Aluminum was chosen for this rig’s Imperial 4,400-gallon tank, and it’s been the metal of choice for the company’s tanks since 2001.
“We’ve gone away from steel tanks because of the deterioration and the rusting factor of it,” Hill explains. “We went with stainless steel for a while, but that got to be too pricey. Now our last two septic trucks have had aluminum tanks. I think the aluminum is going to last longer and it has a cleaner look to it.”
The aluminum’s light weight was at first a slight concern, Hill says, due to the harsh Wisconsin winters, but “we haven’t run into any issues in the winter with our trucks sliding off the road or sliding off a driveway.”
They went with an automatic transmission for a few reasons, one of which was ease of operation. “Even though there’s more of a cost factor there, it’s easier for our drivers. They’re working hard pumping tanks, so when they get in the truck it’s nice because they can have a break and just be able to drive the truck up the road without worrying about shifting gears.”
Safety played a role in the choice as well, allowing the driver to focus on road conditions and traffic more easily, Hill notes.
The business doesn’t have a logo, but used the company colors — red and black — to deck out the truck, with the graphics done by Hill’s friend, Jason Lisko. Now the other two pumper trucks also feature the same design, giving a uniform look to the fleet. “Having a nice, clean truck shows potential customers that you care about your equipment, so you’ll probably care about their property when you’re on it,” Hill explains.
In addition to maintaining a professional look, the graphics make it easier for potential customers to reach out. “You need people to be able to see your name so they’ll be able to find you on the web, and we have our website on the side of the truck because in today’s day and age everyone is on the web.”
To Hill, maintaining a professional look is a boon to the pumping industry as a whole, and is a move that many pumpers are making.
“We’re getting away from the rust buckets going up and down the road. Everybody has uniforms now and everybody’s clean-cut, and we’re doing our best to portray a nice, clean image. Like I said, it helps everybody.
“It’s certainly not a glamorous job by any means, but I have a ton of respect for the people who are in it. (The profession) is physically demanding and mentally exhausting; it’s not for everybody, but everybody I talk to who does it seems to enjoy it. And most of them are family businesses and many are owner-operators, so they take a lot of pride in what they do.”