A good service truck is a bit like a good hunting dog, according to Ron Nuss, head mechanic at Northwest Excavating, Inc. “You can run them ragged all day, and they’ll still be there for you.”
The operated equipment rental and underground dry utility contractor company in Northridge, California, knows a thing or two about working a service truck hard. The company bought its first truck body in 1977—a utility mechanics body from Iowa Mold Tooling Co on a Ford L-600 gas-powered truck.
If you step out in the yard at Northwest today, that same 1977 IMT mechanics body is there, still in use—on its sixth chassis.
Featured Image: This 1977 IMT service body and an IMT 12/86 articulating crane help Northwest Excavating keep its equipment fleet up and running.
Above: The mechanics team at Northwest Excavating and its fleet of IMT service trucks.
IMPORTANCE OF CARE
Over the years, the company has lavished the same care and attention it dotes on its rental fleet on its service equipment. Northwest cultivated a legacy as a respected rental and dry underground utility contractor, and its secret is simple: strong customer loyalty and astute company management. While a strong business plan and steady growth has enabled Northwest to serve customers since opening in 1959, it wouldn’t be able to do so without the attention to detail the service department puts into maintaining its fleet.
“We’re very particular about keeping our equipment nice,” Nuss says. That means parts are replaced and repaired right when an issue is detected. With four mechanics on staff, each technician is involved with ordering his truck. “We buy the right trucks and spec them to each mechanic’s exact needs,” Nuss says.
ALL IN PLACE
Organization is practically the slogan of the service department. Howard Groff, the founder of Northwest, was always meticulous in keeping the equipment maintained and the tools organized. His son Robbie Groff, who now runs the company, is keeping that tradition alive. “When you have everything in order and in its place, you can get the job done faster,” Nuss says.
With labeled drawers and neatly arranged tool compartments, organization is a shared value among the team. “I think there’s a lot to say of having all your tools right where they should be,” Nuss says. While neatly organized trucks certainly look good, they also allow each mechanic to assist with a repair without rummaging around for tools. “We like to do things right, and being organized lets our team be efficient and productive on the jobsite,” Nuss says. “No one is digging through a five-gallon bucket looking for a specific bolt. There’s a drawer for each size.”
SPEC’D TO FIT
With steady company growth, Northwest recently needed to order a new truck for mechanic Robert Lugo. The company worked closely with Lodi Truck and Equipment in nearby Sacramento, California, to ensure the truck they ordered was built to address the mechanic’s particular needs. The team landed on an IMT Dominator and specified certain options the way Lugo wanted them. They went beyond the standard options and extended the cabinets three inches to accommodate the lube reels and placed the power pack above the oil tanks they fabricated to allow more room in the bed of the truck.
Once the truck arrived at Northwest, Lugo was given plenty of time to move into his new truck, assisted by fellow mechanic Angel Plascencia. “We all take pride in our trucks,” Nuss says. “Robert is so dedicated he came down on a Sunday to tinker and finalize things just how he likes them, making sure every tool was where he wanted it.”
THE RIGHT TRUCK
While Lugo’s truck is still shiny, new, and equipped with the latest technology, it’s parked right alongside that first 1977 IMT utility body in the Northwest yard. “It’s really a testament to not only the quality of IMT products in general, but also what you can do when you simply take care of your tools,” Nuss says. “If you find a reliable partner that will work with you to build the truck you want with quality materials, all you need to do is maintain it—and it’ll last as long as you need it to,” which is yet another testament to the pay-off reaped from organization and meticulous care.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Anderson is the marketing representative at Iowa Mold Tooling and handles creative, digital, and distributor efforts. Find out more about Iowa Mold Tooling Co, visit www.imt.com.