A new truck with a larger tank gave McNel Septic the flexibility it needed to get more jobs done.
For the first five years after he purchased McNel Septic in Ravensdale, Washington, Shawn Carlton relied on a 1995 International truck with a 2,300-gallon tank, outfitted by Erickson Tank & Pump. It was a reliable vacuum rig, but he had visions of bigger things in mind.
That dream became a reality this year when Carlton took delivery of a 2016 Kenworth T880 with a 4,000-gallon steel tank, also built out by Erickson Tank & Pump and equipped with a Masport 400 cfm pump. He can sum up the effect on his business in two words: game changer.
“When you’re trying to do four or five jobs a day with a 2,300-gallon truck, you spend a lot of time going back and forth to the treatment plant,” he says, referring to the municipal facility he primarily uses, roughly 25 miles away. “Now I can do two extra jobs a day and choose when I want to fight traffic to go to the treatment plant in Renton.
“I can keep one or two loads on overnight, then do one or two jobs in mid-morning, then go dump around 11 a.m. or noon, when there’s less traffic,” he continues. “Otherwise I’d be going at 2 p.m. or later … and sit on Interstate 405 for quite a while, trying to get there. Going earlier saves me at least an hour per trip.”
Shawn Carlton, owner of McNel Septic, says his new 2016 Kenworth T880 with its 4,000-gallon steel tank has offered a ton of upside for the company.
The new truck’s automatic transmission also makes a huge difference in terms of fatigue and comfort. The old truck has a 10-speed transmission, and Carlton says he might shift 50 or 60 times during the 25-mile trip to the treatment plant, depending on traffic. “After a while, it just wears on you,” he says. “With automatic transmission, you can focus a lot more on just driving.”
The truck features a 485 hp Cummins ISX engine with 1,850 ft-lbs of torque, providing plenty of “get-up-and-go” from a dead stop, he says. “It doesn’t bog down when I’m going up steeper hills fully loaded,” he explains. “With the old truck, I’d be going a steep hill at 20 miles an hour with the four-way (flashers) on when fully loaded. It’s a really big deal for us.”
Carlton also specified a Masport Plug-n-Play pump system, which he says is extremely quiet. “It’s a big deal because you don’t want to wake up the whole neighborhood if you’re at a customer’s home at 8 a.m.,” he notes. In fact, he says that for the first time, he can stand next to the truck and talk to a customer while pumping. That saves a little time each day because he doesn’t have to wait until he’s finished pumping to talk with customers.
“You can still carry on a conversation with a homeowner and let them know what you’re seeing, instead of telling them to hold on until I’m done,” he points out. “That saves time, and time is money. We love to educate our customers, so if we can multitask — pump and talk at the same time — you’re definitely money ahead.”