The winners of our recent Best Looking Truck Contest, which we announced in last month’s PM, got their accolades largely as a result of looks. But everybody knows beauty’s only skin deep. So after ad agency Creative Elements chose the winners, we took a close look at the other hundred or so entrants, since we figured there were plenty of other stories to be told. What we found were a hundred or so stories that we plan to feature in future issues.
These three contractors, for example, were the first to catch our attention. Being that they are all a long, long way from the nearest supply house, their trucks have turned into mobile command units — ready for anything a customer throws at them.
Here’s a look:
Doug’s Plumbing Inc. Tishomingo, OK Located two miles outside of town, Doug Blackburn is 40 miles to the nearest supply house. He built a storage area on his 55 acre plot to store supplies.
“There are some towns around here that don’t even have a plumber,” says Blackburn, who founded the company in 1993. “Being prepared is the only way. I’d drive myself crazy to keep going back and forth to the supply house.”
Staying prepared means stocking 20 feet of each kind of pipe, a full line of electric drain cables, a faucet repair center, ladders and hundreds of parts.
Blackburn specializes in residential repair — mostly remodels.
“We decided that it was not practical to maintain a storefront in town since that was basically advertising,” Blackburn says. “I let my truck take care of that.”
Estimated value of truck supplies: $35,000.
David Buddenhagen Plumbing Inc. Stephentown, NY East of Albany, David Buddenhagen finds his most difficult part of business the unpaved roads he drives on.
“I would guess that more than 75 percent of the roads I drive on are unpaved,” says Buddenhagen, who founded his company in 1989. “One time driving to a job we got stuck on ice and hung up in a tree. They had to cut the limbs off.”
Buddenhagen says most of the houses in his area are 150– to 200–years–old. His work is mostly residential service and repair.
“Being in a rural area I run across a lot of odd ball, old stuff,” Buddenhagen says. “There are still areas putting water in for the first time, and places where people can’t even get a whirlpool tub full.”
Like Blackburn, Buddenhagen’s nearest supply shop is a haul — over 20 miles away.
Buddenhagen keeps his truck in tip-top shape, with 18–inch deep shelving on both sides, a four foot work bench and a four foot fluorescent light.
“The need for a large inventory of plumbing and heating supplies is essential,” says Buddenhagen.
Estimated value of truck supplies: $25,000.
Flying Plumbers Provincetown, MA Located on the tip of Cape Cod, Ron Singer finds the tourists the most difficult part of his job.
“The streets are pretty small on Cape Cod,” says Singer, who founded his company in 1975. “It can get to be difficult to maneuver around the streets.”
And like the name says, the company has the ability to fly. Singer says they have not yet flown to any jobs, but that it is possible.
“One of our guys knows how to fly, and recommended we change the name,” says Singer.
Singer’s nearest supply house over 25 miles away. He finds 70 percent of the work on the residential side. The company owns two trucks.
“We want the ability to fix anything that comes up,” he adds. “And whatever we don’t have on the truck, we’ll run to get.”
Estimated value of truck supplies: $40,000.
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