Getting behind the wheel of Pumper's Classy Trucks.
Go big, or go home — that’s the philosophy Brad LaVoy relied on when speccing out his first brand-new pumper truck, a 2016 International 7500 with a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank.
“It’s ultimately something that I’ve always wanted — a new truck,” says LaVoy, owner of Brad’s Septic & Sewer Service of Temperance, Michigan. “I’m proud of it, and it makes you feel better getting into that truck. I’ve been in business for 23 years, and it’s my first new truck. So I’ve worked very hard for this. It’s a tough economy, and to get something like that and be in it every day — that’s why I got what I wanted, because I’m in it every day.”
After driving used rigs for more than 20 years, LaVoy says the difference is noticeable driving a brand-new truck. “Without a doubt. Not that I had any ill feelings toward my old trucks, but there were spots on them, like a little bit of rust on the hose trays that you had to repair and have painted, and there were always little quirks with the old trucks, where now everything’s new and working well.”
And now that he has a brand-new truck, keeping it clean and looking sharp is a top priority. “I feel better when it’s clean and looks nice. Obviously it takes a lot more time to clean it in the wintertime. You wash it and within a week it’s trashed again,” he says. “As far as how much time we dedicate to cleaning it — whenever we can and as much as we can, but at least once a week, especially in the wintertime.”
A truck of many firsts
“It’s my fourth truck, but my first new truck,” says LaVoy. “It was fun speccing it out, but it was quite a process. Total, it took about a year. I started looking and looking at prices, and the International dealership worked with me and was able to produce a good truck for a very reasonable price.”
As the driver of the truck, and the fact that it’s the only truck in the small company’s fleet, LaVoy added some first-time features that hadn’t been on his other trucks. For example, this is the first truck of his to have an aluminum tank instead of steel.
“I’ve had steel tanks in the past, and eventually the paint starts to blister and the hose trays will get rust on them, and I wanted to get away from that,” LaVoy says. “That’s why I went with aluminum. It seems like that’s more so where the industry is heading, and being in Michigan where there’s road salt in the winter, I felt it was a good fit.”
The size of the company directly impacted LaVoy’s decision to go with a 4,000-gallon tank. “It’s a good-sized tank. We’re a smaller company, and for the most part a one-man operation except for our service work. It’s just me that does the pumping, and I can fit more jobs on a tank before I have to go to the wastewater treatment plant, which is about 35 miles away.”
Another first for LaVoy was going with an automatic transmission instead of a manual. “There again, that’s a first. The first truck I spec’d out was a 10-speed, but I started thinking about an automatic, and since I’m the one that’s driving it — it’s just me and the truck — I designed it the way I wanted it. So I decided to go with the automatic, and I’m very glad I did that. It’s much easier.”
While LaVoy went with a lot of functional and logistical firsts with this truck, he also added a few creature-comfort firsts: dual heated, air-ride suspension and 100 percent leather seats. He was given a few material options for the seats, including leather on top and vinyl on the side, which was his original choice. “But later that day I went out to my old truck and opened the door and looked, and right where that vinyl was on the perimeter of the seat, it was cracked and it creases all the time. And I thought, ‘Why am I spending all this money and putting a seat on it where the vinyl is going to crack?’ So the next day I called them back and said, ‘You know what? Do the 100 percent leather seat,’ and I’m very glad that I did.”
In fact, there’s nothing about his new truck that LaVoy isn’t happy with. “I often think, ‘Would I change anything on this truck if I were to do it again?’ And no, definitely not. I thought about it a lot, even down to the seats, and it took me a long time.”