Shawn Carlton, owner of McNel Septic Services in Ravensdale, Washington, knows first-hand that certain professions will always be in demand – firefighters, trash collectors, and commercial and residential septic system pumpers.
Shawn Carlton, owner of McNel Septic Services in Ravensdale, Washington, is shown with his hard-working and reliable Kenworth T880.
“I was doing underground utilities construction when the housing bubble burst and work slowed to a crawl,” said Carlton. “I came to the conclusion that you could be the most competent guy around, but it’s hard to succeed if the jobs just aren’t there.”
When a family friend decided to retire and sell his septic pumping and inspection company, Carlton saw the potential to earn a steady living as an entrepreneur and the company’s owner-operator – provided he could do two things.
The first, he said, is to spec a productive truck, one that would maximize payload while still being nimble enough for the constrained sites and long driveways of residential septic work. The second is to present a professional image that would generate referrals and repeat business.
Carlton said his Kenworth T880 helps on both fronts. “While there are plenty of jobs out there, there’s a lot of competition for the best jobs,” Carlton said. “The Kenworth T880 is custom-built to get more work done in a day, and it looks fantastic. It’s my calling card.”
Equipped with a 4,000-gallon steel vacuum tank, McNel Septic’s T880 makes four to six stops a day in suburban and rural Seattle, one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the country.
Carlton considered buying a used vehicle – he even flew across the country to test drive one – but ultimately decided it was better to spec a truck that would meet his exact needs. His local dealer, Kenworth Northwest, and the body manufacturer, Erickson Tank & Pump, worked together to get the weight distribution just right across the 20,000 pound steer axle, 46,000 pound rears, and 13,000 pound pusher.
“With the 4,000-gallon tank and the payload distributed properly, I can do twice the work with the T880 compared to my old truck,” Carlton said.
Another benefit of buying new: Carlton gets the T880’s spacious cab. At 2.1 meters (82.7 inches), the T880 cab is 10 inches wider than its predecessor and has 23 inches of room between the seats. The extra space gives Carlton the space he needs to work comfortably and stay organized.
“I have paperwork to fill out after every job so my truck is my mobile office,” Carlton said. “When you have wet gear, a couple of lunch pails, and a helper riding along who wants to get out of the rain, you appreciate the cab when you have to haul your briefcase out.”
Carlton said the T880 cab makes an impression with other drivers. “We all go to the same dump site and check out each other’s trucks while we’re waiting to offload,” Carlton explained. “I’ve had a chance to crawl in and out of a lot of cabs and nothing else compares.”
The total package – sharp-looking truck, productive chassis and body, comfortable cab – is a difference-maker for Carlton and McNel Septic. “When a customer hears about you from someone they trust, or they look on Angie’s List and see words like ‘helpful,’ ‘clean,’ and ‘reliable’ in your review,” he said, “you feel like you’re on the right track. When I pull up in my truck, it reinforces all of those positive messages.”
Kenworth is the driver’s truck. See what drivers are saying at www.kenworth.com/drivers.
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.