We get behind the wheel of one of Pumper magazine's Classy Trucks by having a Classy Conversation with Gary King of King & Sons Septic.
You know you have good taste when your truck wins Classy Truck of the Month, so what does that say when you’ve owned not one, but two Classy Trucks?
Just ask Gary King, owner of King & Sons Septic of Damascus, Maryland. Over the last decade, he’s done just that: First it was a 1997 Freightliner that was named Classy Truck of the Month in March 2005, and this time it’s a 2015 Peterbilt.
Having two Classy Trucks over such a long span of time shows that King takes the image of his company and trucks seriously. “No. 1, with customers it’s key. We get more compliments about how the truck looks,” he says. “If you roll up in a nice-looking truck, they’re going to know you take care of your stuff and that you probably do good work. It just sets off a good first impression.”
Beyond making positive first impressions, professional-looking and clean trucks make King’s septic company stand out. “It’s like a traveling billboard. You need to stand out.”
The nuts and bolts of Classy Truck No. 2
King knows what he wants in a truck, which is why he usually orders his trucks brand new. “We’ve been in business for 37 years now. My dad started it back in 1980,” King says.
So for the tank on his 2015 Peterbilt, he stuck with what has worked best for him over the years: smaller capacity (2,500 gallons) and steel. “We’ve always had the smaller trucks with either 2,000- or 2,500-gallon tanks.”
The smaller capacity works best for King & Sons’ service area and customers, who are mostly residential, with some commercial grease pumping mixed in. “Between the two counties (we serve), we have four dumps that are all local, so we don’t really need a larger tank. And it’s much easier to maneuver getting into tight spots,” King says.
And as for steel: “Steel is something we’ve always had,” he says. “We’ve thought about aluminum — of course, it’s lighter — but then we wouldn’t be able to use our red-and-black color scheme. But aluminum might be something I would consider at some point."
That color scheme was first adopted by King & Sons with the original ’97 Freightliner Classy Truck. “And we stuck with it ever since,” King says. “Other trucks in the past have been white cab, blue tank, green tank, but when I was at the Pumper Show in 1997, there was that Freightliner that we bought, and it had that color scheme.”
Even though the tank is steel, that doesn’t mean there’s no aluminum to be found on the truck. “We have this truck chromed out more to make it look nicer, and the hose rack is an aluminum tray.”
The 2015 Peterbilt has a six-speed transmission, but King isn’t opposed to automatics. “Our International (second truck in the King & Sons’ fleet) is an automatic ... but I prefer the manual. I like the clutch; I’m just so used to it,” he says. “The automatic is nice, but it has its pros and cons.”
One of the big cons of an automatic is a lack of control. “When you have the pump on, an automatic throws a lot of torque into the pump and there’s rubber bushings in there that tear up, where with the clutch, I can control that. I can let the clutch out easier to cut the PTO off.”
That element of control carries over to driving and transporting loads, as well.
“With the automatic, the engine should rev down when you come to a stop, but I can control that with the manual, especially when you have a load on,” King says. “To me, it’s easier (driving a manual) with a full load because I can downshift and slow it down, and use the engine to brake if I have to.”
At the end of the day though, individual specs aren’t what set this Classy Truck apart from the other trucks King has driven — it’s the overall build. “I just think it’s built tougher. It feels like it’s built better.”