Simple Sells in This Year’s Crop of Classy Trucks

Pumpers take a back-to-basics approach with many of the 2017 entries. Cast your ballot to help us choose the top truck of the year.
Simple Sells in This Year’s Crop of Classy Trucks
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Our Classy Truck feature is typically one indicator of trends in wastewater work trucks. The 18 trucks chosen for publication in our monthly feature may indicate pumpers want to go big with tanks, show their patriotic colors, or lean toward a few features, such as certain chrome goodies, hydraulic hoists, lots of LED lighting and the like.

I see no clear trends with this year’s batch of rigs in the Classy Truck roundup story found inside. Rather, displayed in the virtual garage this year is an amalgam of many concepts shown in the past. What is a clear trend is that pumpers are in a serious mode of updating their fleets.

We have received a huge number of Classy Truck submissions over the past year. Some of them are brand-new trucks that come to us straight off the exhibit floor of the WWETT Show. Others are older trucks with a shiny new coat of paint and fresh tank and pump. Still others are trucks that pumpers have been driving for a decade, and they are sending the photos to celebrate how well they’ve held up as revenue-generating rigs.

I will share a few observations from this year’s group. Let me know your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to review them.

The man in black

I don’t know if it’s a tribute to the late, great Johnny Cash, but pumpers seem to like their rigs dressed in black paint. Three of our trucks show black over black cab/chassis and tank. They are Northern Disposal & Sanitation in Katrine, Ontario; A-Team/Vanscoy Septic Cleaning in Liberty Boro, Pennsylvania; and Driggers Septic Tank in Archdale, North Carolina. Black is certainly bad, and by that, I mean good. But, I know from having a black car that it’s also tough to keep the paint job looking sharp. Your trucks work hard every day and can get down and dirty. It’ll take some dedication to keep these black trucks clean.

Simple sells

It seems like some owners have backed off the bling when they spec out a new truck. Sure, we still see a targeted and tasteful use of chrome and a lot of Alcoa Wheel Products aluminum wheels, but there’s a lot of back-to-basics simplicity, too.

We only have a couple of significant vinyl wrap jobs in this year’s contest, notably the standout flames and wild hog graphics on the truck from Big Bore Drilling Certified Septic & Hydroflushing in Fresno, California, and the field of daisies backdrop on the entry from Beltz Septic & Portable Toilets in Newberry, Florida.

What we see more of are tanks with plain paint and big, blocky lettering that are reminiscent of days gone by. Trucks like the big Sterling from Tim Wheeler Septic & Excavating in Minford, Ohio, look positively retro with shadowed red and black lettering over a white tank. So does the minimal lettering on the white tank from Jarvis Septic & Drain in Wadsworth, Ohio. Several other trucks use limited graphics in addition to the lettering, taking great pains to keep it simple. One of those trucks, an all-white Sterling from Complete Septic Service of Madison, South Dakota, uses basic, white-painted wheels to great effect.

What about social media?

Pumpers tell me all the time they’re generating new customers more and more through a website or social media marketing. So I’m scratching my head because only one of the trucks in the 2017 roundup shows a website address, and I see no social media symbol (at least on any part of the trucks shown in the photos). Every truck includes a name and phone number. A few list their services. And a few show driver names or funny lines, such as “I Love Sewage” on the orange truck from Drain & Sewer Control, out of Armagh, England. But there is little effort to drive passersby to a website or Facebook page.

Pumping for a cause

Northern Disposal & Sanitation (mentioned earlier) interestingly promotes its connection with the local Huntsville Hospital Foundation cancer care program. The company uses valuable marketing space on the side of the truck tank to say they are “Pumping for Patients.” Also included on the truck are multicolored ribbons associated with supporting many causes and a small message that says the company is “Green and Clean.” I know many pumpers are actively involved with local charities and important causes, but we seldom see these efforts highlighted or the causes promoted on work trucks. I can’t help but think focusing on good deeds enhances a company’s reputation among potential customers.


I invite you to read our Classy Truck roundup and follow the instructions to vote for your favorite. But don’t wait too long. The voting closes Dec. 22, after which I will spend the Christmas holiday counting all the ballots and gathering the votes of our COLE Publishing team of experts. A winner is named in February when the top truck drives onto the cover of Pumper. To vote, visit and simply click the icon for your favorite truck. Only one vote is allowed per IP address.


As the year comes to a close, planning for Pumper stories is well underway for 2018. Our writers and photographers are already working on a variety of stories meant to share valuable information with readers, but there’s still time for you to get in on the fun. As you reflect on the successes of 2017 and look forward to tackling new challenges in 2018, it’s a great time to reach out and share your own story with Pumper readers. Think about ways you can contribute to industry education efforts and networking through the following features:

Contractor profiles

Is your family company marking an important anniversary in the coming year? Maybe it’s 20 years, 50 years or more that your multigenerational pumping business has been helping customers. We can help with that celebration. I would be excited to talk to you about your company for a potential Pumper profile story. While we know that companies steeped in history have interesting stories to tell, so do savvy startups and first-generation businesses with just a few years or a decade in the books. Through sharing your experience, we hope to pass on great advice to help everyone in the pumping community.

After Hours

Do you have an interesting hobby that consumes your time away from work? Are you passionate about an important cause in your community, giving of your time, talents and treasures to help others? Do you take a leadership role in your local government, a civic group or your faith community? We know that pumpers aren’t one-dimensional folks who always have their hands on a suction hose. You lead unique and interesting lives, and we want to share your personal stories in our After Hours feature. Tell use what drives you so we can get to know you better.

States Snapshot

In 2017, we started a new first-person feature to highlight active members of our industry trade associations. States Snapshots has provided an interesting view into the lives of wastewater professionals from the U.S. and Canada. It’s been very interesting, and we want to keep it going by introducing 12 new contractors over the next year. Inside this issue, we feature Tim Lubbers of the Kansas Small Flows Association. Lubbers filled out a questionnaire that formed the basis for the feature and worked with writer Betty Dageforde to polish a message about his work with the association and details of his day-to-day routine. Contact me to let me know if you’d be willing to share your story and talk about the challenges faced by your state or provincial trade association.


I’d enjoy hearing from you if you’re willing to share your story in one of our features next year. I also welcome your feedback on past stories and suggestions for topics we should cover in the future. You can reach me at, and I promise to respond to all email inquiries. If I don’t talk to you over the next few weeks, let me wish you happy holidays and a blessed New Year!


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