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A Can-Do Attitude

November 20, 2008

Written by: Jennifer Oredson, Two Rivers Marketing

Bill Youngson doesn’t like to hear it can’t be done.

One dealer told Youngson, owner of Fleet Maintenance and Repair Inc., just that when he was trying to custom build a mechanics truck for his company. So Youngson went to another dealer that, like him, didn’t know the meaning of that phrase.

By getting the mechanics truck he wanted, there’s almost nothing that Youngson and his crews can’t do when it comes to roadside service.

Big trucks, big clients
Since 2002, Fleet Maintenance and Repair, based in East Rockaway, N.Y., has specialized in emergency road service for all types of trucks. Not only does Youngson service big trucks, but he also has to please some big clients, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, Target, the U.S. Postal Service, DHL, Penske, Ryder and the HUB group. And with John F. Kennedy International Airport — one of the nation’s largest import/export airports — just five minutes away, Youngson says his company is in a prime location to service hundreds of trucks coming in and out of Queens daily.
 
“We do a tremendous amount of 24-hour road service,” Youngson says. “Not a lot of guys, when it’s 3 a.m. and 5 below zero, want to be lying on their backs in the right lane of the expressway, which is very good for us.”
 
Today, Youngson’s company consists of 11 full-time employees and seven service vehicles, including two wreckers. But he didn’t always have such an elaborate entourage. In the early days, it was just him and his partner working out of the back of a Chevrolet Blazer. “We grew the business until we were able to buy an old telephone box truck with probably 400,000 miles on it,” he says. Youngson went from that used truck to a much better used truck, and then he and his partner leased a building. Within a few years, business grew through word of mouth, and Youngson bought a building to house the company and became the sole owner.
 
Nonetheless, the bottom line is that the list of European markets in which knucklebooms are the standard is very long, but that list becomes shorter in the United States. That said, there are a fair number of industries in North America in which articulating cranes are the best solution.
 
Custom features save the day
To help sustain the can-do attitude Youngson wanted his business to exemplify, he soon realized he would need equipment that could go above and beyond. So when it came time to purchase a new mechanics truck, he didn’t want one off the showroom floor. Instead, he wanted one custom-built to handle the unique demands of his business. “I wanted a truck that would be self-sufficient,” Youngson says.
 
After a great deal of research, Youngson settled on an IMT Dominator® II mechanics truck with a Peterbilt chassis. “I really liked the way that the IMT service body was built. It’s designed so that everything kind of flows and is functional,” he says. “The rear compartment is solid and it’s actually anchored through the structure of the body. Things like that made it stand out … a men-from-the-boys kind of thing.”
 
Youngson worked with his IMT dealer, QT Equipment, to equip the truck with several custom features, including moving the welder from the top of the service body to a locked compartment. “Because of where we are in New York, if it’s not tied up and locked down, they’ll steal it. Ours is actually cut into one of the compartments so that all of our leads and oxygen and acetylene reels are locked up,” he says. Near the welder, there is the ground lead and 50 feet of welding cable. Next to it, there is another 50-foot reel for the oxygen and acetylene tanks.
 
Due to the amount of trailers that Fleet Maintenance and Repair Inc. crews service, the rear bumper features service and emergency glad hands and a seven-pin lighting connector. “If the driver tells us the lighting is out, we can back into the trailer, and we’re able to connect right in to it. If we need to adjust brakes on a trailer, we can charge brakes and test them right off our service vehicle,” he says.
 
With rising fuel costs, Youngson has seen a spike in service calls relating to truck drivers who have broken down because they have run out of fuel. “We’re getting more and more trucks running out of fuel because drivers don’t have the money; fuel prices are too high,” he says. “They wait until they break down and then they call the company and request road service.” For calls like these, Youngson says he’s glad he chose the 110-gallon diesel transfer tank for his Dominator II unit. The transfer tank includes a 50-foot reel and an electric meter that tells mechanics exactly how much fuel they’ve pumped. Other custom features on the IMT mechanics truck include a 1,000-amp Start-All unit for jump-starting 12- and 24-volt vehicles.
 
But the most impressive custom feature on Youngson’s Dominator II truck is the recessed winch that was integrated into the truck’s rear bumper and boasts a 16,000-pound maximum pull capacity. In understanding the industry and the service calls his crews would tackle, Youngson knew his mechanics truck should have additional pulling power. In fact, he says few companies servicing semitrailer trucks in his area have truck-mounted cranes, let alone a truck-mounted crane and winch. “Even for something as simple as loading tires and rims that you’ve taken off a truck … Why should you kill yourself when you have the capability to do it with a crane?” he says.
 
The additional winch has also given Youngson and his crews an edge, enabling them to complete repairs that were once impossible to fix out in the field. For example, on a recent service call, the torque bar on a trailer axle had snapped as a driver carried a heavy load down the road. Once the torque bar had snapped, the tires on the trailer’s rear axle slid back, causing the axle to shift. “Nothing was in line anymore. It pulled the leaf springs back, and the trailer came to a screeching halt,” Youngson says.
 
When a Fleet Maintenance and Repair two-man crew arrived on the scene with the Dominator II, they used the 10,500-pound maximum lift capacity of the IMT 6025 telescopic crane to lift the rear of the trailer. Then, they connected the winch to the rear axle, pulled it back into alignment and installed the spring into the hanger again. The torque bar was welded in place and the driver was sent on his way. There was absolutely no way it could have been done without a truck like this,” Youngson says. “If we wouldn’t have had the additional winch, we wouldn’t have been able to fix it. The trailer would have needed towing.”

And towing a trailer from the rear wouldn’t have been easy, Youngson explains, saying it would have taken a considerable amount of time and planning. “For a job like this, it didn’t matter what you charged, the customer was just saying, ‘Thank you so much.’ That’s how you get a customer like that for life. There’s nobody else doing some of this stuff,” he says. “We can do pretty much anything with our Dominator.”

Youngson’s can-do attitude has truly shaped the way he’s grown his business. He has strived to purchase service equipment that helps make his company a one-stop shop, thus eliminating the need to involve multiple service vendors to complete a job. He’s learned that the more calls his crews can complete along the side of the road, the more customers he’ll gain and keep. With this strategy, it won’t take long before the rest of the industry buys into Youngson’s belief that nothing is impossible.