When he buys a new truck, Lum Hughston thinks not only about his drivers, but he also considers the passengers along for the ride — up to 35 head of cattle or 200 hogs.
Hughston, a livestock hauler based in McBain, Mich., tows livestock to and from dairy farms, meat processing plants, rodeos and state fairs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin. His new Western Star® LowMax® 4900 EX truck with a 515-hp Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine is up to the task.
With more than 28 years of experience hauling livestock, Hughston knows what he’s looking for in a truck. Hughston began driving for his parents’ trucking company and livestock barn when he was 16. After purchasing some of his parents’ trucks in 1997, he started his own business – Lum Hughston Trucking LLC – which he runs with the help of his wife, son and daughter-in-law.
Hughston occasionally hits the road, but mostly concentrates on administrative and maintenance responsibilities, leaving the hauling to his nine drivers. He is also responsible for training his drivers on how to haul livestock, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Hogs often lie down for trips, but cattle stand and move around. Drivers are charged with responding to these movements in addition to driving carefully so the animals are not injured.
“When you’re hauling livestock, you want to make sure not to jerk them around or stop too quickly,” Hughston said. “One thing I really like about my new Western Star truck is that it’s sturdy. That’s essential when you’re moving animals.”
Hughston’s drivers also attend training sessions offered by his customers on how to handle livestock, which they often have to help load and unload when they arrive at their destination. Operators also care for the livestock during trips. During the summer months, they must keep the trucks moving to circulate air and cool the animals. However, the trailers are closed when they haul during the winter to keep the animals warm.
“We haul livestock year-round in all kinds of conditions, and I can’t have a driver stuck on the side of the road in the summer heat with the animals,” Hughston said. “I need a truck that is rugged and dependable, and my Western Star truck has been just that.”
Selecting Western Star
Deciding to buy his first Western Star truck was a stress-free experience, thanks to Hughston’s relationship with his dealer, Duthler Truck Center, in Wyoming, Mich.
“My dad and I used to take work to Duthler, and we always had good experiences,” Hughston said. “That positive relationship convinced me to consider Western Star.”
Hughston flew out to the Western Star plant in Portland, Ore, where he watched his truck being built from beginning to end. The tour featured testing areas, like Freightliner LLC’s state-of-the-art wind tunnel, which measures aerodynamics, and the shaker machine, which determines durability.
Hughston purchased his Western Star truck in April 2007 and has been pleased with his own experience driving it as well as the feedback from his son and employees. The truck features an 82-inch Stratosphere® sleeper, which he said provides more comfort for his drivers. Because they leave on Mondays and travel all week with the livestock, Hughston said he wanted a truck with a good sleeper that had a comfortable and steady ride.
“I like the roominess of the Western Star cab, its sharp looks and the way it rides,” Hughston said. “I knew Western Star had a good reputation for offering great ride and handling, and that was important to me, given the cargo I carry. It also has a good refrigerator and all the comforts of home. It’s been great.”
Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Redford, Mich., produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC. Freightliner LLC produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles and is part of DaimlerChrysler’s Truck Group, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.