Owner-operator Les Sullivan’s eye-catching Western Star® truck traverses the country hauling fresh and frozen foods
For owner-operators, their truck is their livelihood – career, home, and pride. And that’s why it’s important for them to have a vehicle that’s dependable, comfortable, and reflects personal style. In the case of Les Sullivan, an owner-operator based out of Springfield, Ill., Western Star gives him everything he needs to make trips from the Midwest to the West Coast in style.
Demanding a vehicle that will do the job, and at the same time, provide him with the comforts of home, Sullivan is now driving his seventh Western Star truck, a 4900 EX, built to his exact specifications.
It’s with this eye-catching Western Star truck that he was selected for the prestigious 2007 Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar. “I’ve been dreaming about getting in this calendar ever since it came out almost 25 years ago,” said Sullivan. “After wanting it for so long, it is really a thrill to have made it!”
Sullivan credits Doug and Bill Canham of Sprinfield, Ill.-based Canham Graphics for his truck’s sleek white paint job with vibrant purple flames. But his favorite part of the truck is the rear of the gleaming silver trailer, which, on both sides, depicts his biggest fan – three-year-old grandson, Sammy. “Every time I see his picture on my truck when I’m on the road, I smile,” adds Sullivan.
“I’ve always had good trucks, but this one is my favorite so far,” he continued. “I also take it to a lot of truck beauty shows and have won several awards, including a “Best of Show” award.”
The Best of the Best
Sullivan has been an owner-operator for nearly 40 years and has driven practically every type of truck available. But for the past 22 years, he has been a loyal Western Star truck owner, dismissing the other brands to drive “the best of the best,” according to him.
“I go over the options with my dealer and basically put together what I want – just like ordering a new car,” says Sullivan. “It pretty much has all of the features available on it, like a generator for electricity, so I don’t have to idle the engine to use the heating and air conditioning. I also have power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, leather interior, and a refrigerator.”
Sullivan hauls less-than-load (LTL) freight of meat, pork, poultry, cheese, and other fresh food from Chicago to Los Angeles for Budreck Truck Line in Bridgeview, Ill. Once in L.A., he transports frozen seafood back to the Midwest for Service Transport in Federalsburg, Md. Due to the short life span of these products, it’s imperative that Sullivan has a quality truck that will enable him to make timely deliveries. Businesses including grocery stores, grocery warehouses, and delis rely on him to deliver their food in a timely fashion every month.
“The refrigerated goods I carry have short shelf life, so it needs to be delivered pretty quick,” says Sullivan. “It usually takes me about five days to make the trip between Chicago and L.A., making several stops along the way to make the deliveries.”
Just as important as the vehicle itself, a good relationship between the customer and the dealer is invaluable.
Sullivan’s dealer, Springfield Tractor and Trailer in Springfield, Ill., is a family-run company that sells exclusively Western Star trucks throughout the Midwest and surrounding states including Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Kentucky. With the bulk of business coming from owner-operators, the staff at Springfield Tractor and Trailer knows how to cater to the independent truck driver.
“I’ve known the folks at Springfield Tractor and Trailer a long time – they’re like family. They’ve been really great to me,” explains Sullivan. “One of the reasons why I switched to Western Star was because of them.”
Another partner he couldn’t do without is his wife, Brenda. “We’ve been married 44-plus years and she has always been a tremendous support to me. Although she doesn’t drive with me anymore, she helps with all of the administrative work.”
Dependable Service at Home and On the Road
In addition to offering a quality product, Western Star trucks are built for easy maintenance and boast an ever-expanding dealer parts and services network. As Sullivan is transporting perishable goods across the country and can’t afford downtime for repairs, he depends on a strong dealer and parts network to assist him wherever he may be.
“When you’re on the road, traveling across the country, you need to have an extensive support network,” says Sullivan. “The Western Star network is very good and has grown so much over the years. I’ve never had a problem with getting parts or service anywhere I go.”
Additionally, Western Star trucks allow for easy access and serviceability. “It’s convenient for mechanics because there are not a lot of model variations or complicated material involved, which makes it easier to work with,” added Sullivan. “For example, the cab is higher off the frame, everything is open under the hood, and the wires are loomed nicely – all of that makes it easier for maintenance.
“Western Star is the best of the best. It has quality, good looks and comfort – everything an owner-operator needs.”
Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Redford, Mich., produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a company of Freightliner LLC. Freightliner LLC is a unit of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.