Old-School Cool

North Carolina pumper Donald Goins’ bright yellow refurbished Peterbilt blends classic truck elements with a hardworking attitude.
Old-School Cool
Donald Goins Jr., shown with his Classy Truck, says the repurposed 1992 Peterbilt carrying a big Keith Huber, Inc. vacuum tank and a hoist gives his business the flexibility to effectively clean car wash pits and serve specialized commercial accounts. (Photo by Carolyn Inscore Choate)

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Donald Goins Jr., who runs the one-man pumping operation P.D. Quik Inc. in Mt. Airy, N.C., likes to say that his vacuum trucks are "not for show, but all for dough." After winning the Pumper 2012 Classy Truck of the Year contest, he might have to reluctantly step back from that proclamation.

The southern gentleman from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains thinks "work first" in maintaining a fleet of four purpose-built rigs serving small-town North Carolina customers. But his old-school cool refurbished long-hood 1992 Peterbilt rig has the kind of retro good looks and chrome accents that capture a lot of attention as he runs routes to work big pumping jobs or clean car wash pits across the northwest part of the Tar Heel State.

"It was a little dressy when I bought it," Goins says about the Peterbilt he bought after it had a productive life as an over-the-road tractor going back and forth to California. While his three other trucks are painted all-white, Goins chose to leave the original bright yellow and black paint job on the Peterbilt after he picked it up from dealer D.A. Strictland, in Lambsburg, Va.

"It was yellow and I kept it yellow. I think it looks like a bruised banana," he jokes.


Bruised banana or not, the 20-year-old rig was chosen for Classy Truck honors due to its classic look and work-first functionality. When Goins bought it 12 years ago, Strictland had removed a sleeper cab and put in a rear window, then rebuilt the N14 Red Top Cummins diesel workhorse, which now has 1.3 million miles and counting.

After the purchase, Strictland beefed up the frame to Goins' specifications, then transferred a reliable steel 4,000-gallon Keith Huber tank and 30-year-old Ochsner pump from an underpowered GMC Brigadier truck Goins had been using. It has a full-opening rear door, a hoist and vibrator and dual topside manways, making it a perfect heavy-duty hauler for high-gallon septic runs and specialty car wash pit work.

"The Brigadier was killing me on power, with only 210 hp. I saw the Pete sitting there and found out it had the 460 Cummins engine in it, and I felt sure it would manage the payload," Goins recalls. And it's proven to take any job Goins can throw at it. The vibrator, hoist and rear hatch make dumping heavy car wash grit a snap, and the big tank helps Goins with a lucrative job cleaning out rest area holding tanks along North Carolina's highways.

The truck's look was completed with clear, simple graphics from TW Signs in Mt. Airy. While the truck has a much different style than his other rigs, the graphics are consistent across the fleet. Goins keeps the truck in good shape and washes it occasionally, but he doesn't give it any special treatment.


"I try to be picky about it, but it's still a dirty business," he says. "We're definitely in the business to move sewage."

Goins doesn't mind running older equipment. Besides the Pete, he runs a 1992 Freightliner tandem axle with a 2,500-gallon tank built about 100 miles away at Abernethy Welding, a 1995 cabover UD with a 1,750-gallon tank, and a 2006 International with a 3,200-gallon steel tank he bought with a salvage title. The latter truck had been a process-water hauler in the oil and gas sector and was damaged in a rollover crash. Goins had a new cab installed and fixed the damaged tank to get it back on the road.

Goins, 54, got into the pumping industry in a roundabout way. In 1989, he owned and operated two small grocery stores in Mt. Airy, one located on the main street of the town made famous with a fictitious name, Mayberry, in the 1960s TV comedy, the Andy Griffith Show. He had sold one of his stores and was looking for a new business to get into.

Goins was working the front of the store when a customer came in and, in shooting the breeze, let on that he was going to retire and give up his pumping business. Goins and a partner ended up buying the small operation, then Goins sold his second grocery and bought out his partner. He's never looked back.

"You know what I love about it? I came from a business where I worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week, looking at the same four walls all the time," Goins says. "In this business, I drive around and meet a lot of new people and get to work outside. There's a lot more freedom than when you own a grocery store. And I've loved it ever since."


"I like the people, from the customers to the competitors. We always get along and there's four of us in a community of 27,000 people," he says of the area pumpers. "We help each other out if we need to, and we don't cut each other's throats."

While Goins' business is about 60 percent residential septic, 40 percent commercial septic and car wash pits, his next-door neighbor runs a portable sanitation company and occasionally pumps septic tanks. He says they're great friends.

Goins had a helper in submitting his truck photo when he was chosen for the Classy Truck monthly honor for October 2012. His wife, Carolyn, who loves photography and has become a part-time wedding and commercial photographer, enjoys riding along with her husband and shooting photos of his trucks.

"My pictures have been published in news-papers and I've shot a lot of weddings, but I tell everybody that you know you've achieved success when your picture reaches Pumper magazine," she says. The photo that ran in the October issue was taken as Goins was cleaning out a holding tank at a golf course, and the truck was parked in front of a picturesque lake with a fountain.

Goins says he is proud to win the annual Classy Truck honor, but he was just as proud of his wife for her work photographing his fleet for more than 20 years. Carolyn jumped at the chance to make the Peterbilt truck her subject again for the cover of this magazine.

"I was surprised, but I was also happy for Carolyn," Goins says of his Classy Truck win. "I knew it would thrill her to death."


Thanks to everyone who entered their truck in the Classy Truck contest over the past year. That you took the time to design top-notch trucks and detail them for these photos shows your great pumper pride. Every one of the trucks featured in 2012 are winners in their own right, and serve to raise the professionalism of the industry, one rig at a time.


Will you be coming to the greatest show on earth for pumping professionals? Of course I'm talking about the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International set for later this month, Feb. 25-28 in Indianapolis. I'll be there every day and am looking forward to meeting you. From Education Day on Feb. 25 to the three days of exhibits Feb. 26-28, it'll be wall-to-wall new equipment and dozens of training and networking opportunities.

COLE Publishing editors will be on hand to meet contractors and learn more about your businesses. We want to know about your latest initiatives and hear about the issues that concern you most, whether it's general small business topics or specific pumping challenges. Your ideas drive the quality of content we produce throughout the year for our readers. Listening to you is my top priority at the Expo. So stop by the COLE editors' booth and let's talk shop!


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