This Rig Is Big, Red and Reliable

Jerry Jakubowicz poured 40 years of pumping know-how into the design and specifications of the 2022 Classy Truck of the Year

This Rig Is Big, Red and Reliable

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The pumping industry has come a long way in the 40 years Jerry and Chris Jakubowicz have been running mom-and-pop outfit Rural Septic Service. When they started out, Jerry was driving a 1964 Ford carrying a 1,500-gallon boiler tank and pumpouts were $20 for holding tanks and $25 for septic tanks.

Back in those days, Jerry couldn’t have envisioned ordering a $285,000 custom-built Peterbilt rig that could handle an average of 10 tanks he pumps per day around his home base in tiny Boyd, Wisconsin, population 603. But that’s exactly what he did, traveling a little more than an hour east to the Imperial Industries factory in 2020 to pick up the bright red beauty that was just named the 2022 Pumper Classy Truck of the Year.

“I was shocked. I didn’t think I’d ever win. There’s a lot of nice trucks out there,” an excited Jerry responded when asked about his first reaction to his truck taking home the coveted prize. About the truck, one of 12 beautiful service vehicles featured last year in Pumper, he said, “What can I say (about the truck) other than I love it? Imperial did a hell of a job building it.”

The winning truck is a 2020 Peterbilt 567 powered by a Cummins X15 100th Anniversary edition 450 hp engine pushing a 5,000-gallon steel tank with a National Vacuum Equipment blower and tied to an Allison automatic transmission. Imperial added a 50-gallon freshwater tank with a Hannay hose reel, Garnet in-cab SeeLevel tank gauge, dual 4-inch inlets and a 6-inch dump valve. Jan Rufledt at Brushworks of Bloomer provided graphics. 


Rural Septic was started in 1966 and Jerry and Chris bought the solo-pumper business in 1984 three years after Jerry graduated from high school. It has remained a single-driver operation ever since, and it took Jerry’s 10th truck for him to enter the Classy Truck competition — and he won the annual contest the first time out.

Beginner’s luck? Hardly. Over the years, Jerry refined all the features he liked in a vacuum truck and wasn’t bashful about his demands for the truckbuilders. After that first Ford, he’s custom-ordered every truck, the last three being Peterbilts from Imperial. He said the folks at Imperial know he’s “fussy” about the final product. All that attention to detail and hands-on pumping experience led up to this month’s cover shot.

Here are some of the specifications Jerry’s found most valuable in this truck:

Lower the hose hangers: “I lowered the hose hooks two more inches so it’s easy to pull the hoses on and off. I’ve seen some hangers halfway up the tank. No way I’m picking it up over my head.”

Internal wiring and piping: “It’s better to clean. I don’t like washing around a lot of stuff. Everything is hidden.”

All stainless fasteners: “Every nut and bolt is stainless steel so I don’t have to worry about rust or streaks.” The rear bumper, visor and toolbox doors are all stainless for easier cleaning.

More toolboxes: For this build, the freshwater hose reel was enclosed in a toolbox and two more boxes are built into the passenger side for added storage.

Strobe lighting front and back: “The way people drive today, they have no respect for big trucks. I run the strobes whenever I’m pulling in and out of driveways.”

Shorter hose runs: “I carry three lengths of 38-foot hose (Black Kanaflex 220 RS from Milwaukee Rubber Products). I’m getting too old or lazy and I don’t like dragging hose anymore. If we get septics way in the back of the house, I’m going to wait for the ground to dry and back out on the grass. (Customers) understand.” He said the Kanaflex is durable and flexible in cold weather.

Smooth hose trays: “I don’t like the diamond plate. I don’t like the looks and it’s way too hard to keep clean. This stainless is so smooth and easy to clean.”

Easy truck wash: “I don’t wax trucks anymore. There’s a clearcoat paint, the rest is stainless.”

Front load valve: “I went with a front loading valve starting with a 1984 International. It pushes material to the back and I never, ever have to clean sand out of that tank. There’s no manway on top (for cleaning access); I don’t need it.”

Gotta go auto: This is his third truck running an Allison RDS 4500 auto transmission. “If I had to shift a truck again, I wouldn’t drive it. I just got spoiled. Because I do so much stop-and-go and turning all the time and backing up, it’s too easy just to push a button.”

Blowers preferred: “It makes it faster and easier to pump a tank. That’s part of the reason I went with a blower. It’s double the cfm of my last pump and that makes a big difference.”

Always red: “All of my trucks have been red. It’s a color I picked years ago and stuck with it. The same paint code, L2141.”

Basic interior comfort: “It’s not top-of-the-line, I’m too cheap to buy the fancy model. It’s one step under that. It has leather seats, all the bells and whistles including Bluetooth, upgraded stereo, extra sound insulation and navigation.”

Double heated valves: For this truck he asked for heated jackets and heated valves, which he admits might be overkill. “It can be -30 degrees and they open every time. I can take the cap off the valve and there’s steam coming out of it.”

DuraBrite Wheels: The Alcoa aluminum wheels cost more, but are guaranteed to shine for five years.


“Every time I’ve built a tank I make some changes. As time goes on building trucks and tanks as I want them, they’ve gotten better,” Jerry said. “This is by far the most user-friendly truck I’ve ever owned.”

To keep it in tip-top shape, Jerry parks the Pete inside a heated shop and washes it regularly in the shop, most of the time hand-scrubbing it, a routine that takes more than an hour. The tank with internal piping makes it easier as does his simple use of hot water and dish soap.

“I’m a firm believer in Dawn dishwashing soap,” he explained. “I buy it in bulk and run it through the pressure washer when I’m too lazy to scrub it. I’ve tried may other cleaners and dish soap is by far the best.”

Jerry describes his truck as his “office on wheels” and it’s important to keep it tidy — for himself and for customers who appreciate and marvel at seeing a clean septic service truck. He also believes in regular truck replacement as he has never held on to a truck for more than 10 years, and it’s usually a shorter time period. He thinks running newer trucks is just good business.

“Years ago I couldn’t afford a new truck; it was just fix, fix, fix. Then I (compared) what I would pay in interest on a new truck and the money I stuck into repairs on the old truck, and it was cheaper to buy and have a new truck,” he said.


Turning 61 next month, Jerry plans to pump until he’s 70. While he’s behind the wheel every day, he credits his wife, Chris, for handling all the office duties. Their family includes daughter Jennifer, son Justin and granddaughters Kendall and Keslyn. No one in the family is interested in taking over, so Jerry hopes to find someone to train and take over one day — but not too soon.

“Before I croak, I want to say I’ve pumped tanks for 50 years. I might not work every day all day, but I need to stay busy and I love what I do,” he said. “Different scenery and talking to the people, that’s what I’ll miss someday. And I’m still learning stuff. I don’t know everything. No two systems are the same.”


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