John Ackworth uses the same formula for all his trucks to keep them looking uniform and identifiable
When you’ve got a good thing going, stick with it. That’s how John Ackworth approaches his business, and it’s the reason he buys International trucks from Mid-State Truck Service and has them built out by Imperial Industries.
Ackworth has run with International ever since he first bought ASAP Sanitary Services of Chardon, Ohio. “That way I have all the same thing, and all the parts are interchangeable for the most part, and you’re not trying to stock three or four different manufacturer parts,” he says.
He got his 2016 International 7500 SBA 6x4 at the WWETT Show in Indianapolis, and it was named Classy Truck in the April edition of Pumper magazine.
“I needed a septic truck at that point, and I needed to find something I liked that was already built so I could get rolling as quick as possible versus waiting three or four months to have a truck built,” he says. “We went to the WWETT Show in Indianapolis, and as soon as those doors open, those trucks are gone in no time. So I walked in the door, walked around and found exactly what I wanted.”
The automatic greasing system on the 2016 International came as an unexpected request to the manufacturers, but one that made the most sense for Ackworth’s situation.
“It was actually the first time either Mid-State Truck or Imperial Industries had put an automatic greasing system on a truck, and they were really surprised that I asked for it,” he says. “But at this point right now, we’re eight or nine trucks into our fleet and I don’t have a mechanic. I’m the mechanic — I take care of all my own trucks, I do the maintenance schedules, check them and recheck them 10 times over again.
Ackworth says the trucks get a lot of wear and tear when they’re out on the road carrying heavy loads.
“You’re off-roading with them in some ways to get to certain tanks and things like that, and it beats them up, especially carrying that kind of weight around. Putting an automatic grease system on the truck gives me peace of mind knowing that my vehicles are automatically being greased in a timely manner.”
Other must-have features included on the truck not only boost overall efficiency, but in some cases, also the truck’s aesthetics. Case in point: the truck’s 4,000-gallon aluminum tank.
“I just like the presentation of aluminum, for one thing,” Ackworth says. “If aluminum gets marked up, you just polish it out and it looks brand new all over again.”
Ackworth went with the 4,000-gallon capacity for practical purposes. “Really, it doesn’t pay or make any sense to go any smaller than that,” he says. “Why go with a 3,000-gallon tank when most of our septics in northeastern Ohio are anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 gallons? So at least with 4,000 gallons you get multiple tanks in one load before having to go and off-load.”
Imperial Industries included a National Vacuum Equipment blower on the 2016 International — a feature new to Ackworth, but one that will be on each of his new trucks in the future. “I’ll tell you what, ever since I’ve used it, I’ll never go away from it,” he says. “The power and the consistency of it is unbelievable, and there’s no lag in them whatsoever. It’s impressive.”
The best first impression
With nine trucks comprising ASAP Sanitary’s fleet, the International/Imperial Industries formula produces a uniform, professional-looking fleet.
“That’s the main thing,” says Ackworth. “We try to keep our fleet looking similar. I don’t like to mix and match. I only buy new trucks, otherwise they’re too beat up and you don’t know what their track history is. And first impressions are everything. If you see a contractor in a rickety old beat-up, rusted-out truck, or a contractor in a brand-new vehicle, which one are you going to feel more comfortable with?”
And Ackworth’s heavy emphasis on first impressions has paid off. “A lot of our customers are word-of-mouth, and honestly that comes from our trucks,” he says. “Our trucks say portable restrooms, grease traps and septic servicing, and when people see that on a nice truck, they take the time to review and read it.”