Bricks To Gears

Sometimes, just when we think we got it all figured out, life throws us a curve ball. Imagine this: you’re in your early 20s, have a great paying job as a brick layer, and you are happy with the fact that you will be doing this for the rest of your life. Then, you get laid off. Now what? Well, for Nick Trensch, this scenario was his reality. Having never a desire to drive or own a truck, how did this guy end up completely changing careers and, eventually, getting in a truck magazine? Well, sometimes you just gotta take the opportunities that are handed to you and run, and that is exactly what Nick did.

For some, changes in life knock them down, while others can look at them as an opportunity to try something new. Jumping head-first into a different path of life is the story of how this man went from being a brick layer to a trucker. Now 35 years old, Nick Trensch of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, recaps how everything changed in 2004.

At 23 years old, Nick had a great-paying job as a brick layer, but then he got laid off. At the time, his future in-laws, Ed and Debbie Boucher, owned a truck and ran team for Midwest Carriers. Debbie had decided to take a week off and Ed, knowing Nick was now out of work, asked him if he wanted to ride along. Nick, who had never even considered “truck driver” as a career path, went along for the ride. And what started out as just a simple ride along, turned into Nick making an abrupt career change, running team back and forth twice a week from Wisconsin to the Carolinas!

Growing up, Nick received some good insights on the trucking industry from his father, Vince, who was head of operations at ABF Freight Systems. Nick didn’t retain much because he was pretty young at the time, and he didn’t really have an interest in the trucking industry. But, that one week with Ed, turned into eight weeks of running team and learning the ropes of both the trucking industry and driving a truck. In short order, following those eight weeks, Nick got his CDL and bought his first truck and trailer – a red 2001 Peterbilt 379 with a C15 Cat motor and a 2000 Utility 48-foot spread-axle reefer – and then leased on to Midwest Carriers. His father was able to provide him with some knowledge of the LTL business to better equip Nick for what he could expect, but other than that, he pretty much just hit the ground running.

As time went on and Nick became more immersed in the trucking world, he upgraded his equipment to a purple 2003 Peterbilt 379 with a C15 Cat motor and a 2003 Great Dane 51-foot stainless spread-axle reefer. In 2009, Nick leased on with Strollin West LLC out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he remains today. In 2015, Nick special-ordered the brand new 2016 Black Sable Effect Peterbilt 389 glider you see here from Allstate Peterbilt of Winona, Wisconsin. At first glance, it may just look like an ordinary Peterbilt 389, but take a closer look and you’ll see that there is more than meets the eye.

Al Braun of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Bob Lohmeier, owner of Strollin West LLC, assisted in making Nick’s dream a reality, from start to finish. Sporting an air-ride front axle and carried by a C15 Cat motor (his obvious engine of choice) with a C18 cam built by Sailor Brothers out of Oak Park, Minnesota, the truck pushes at least 800 horsepower, with the capabilities of so much more. On the outside, you’ll find a polished aluminum deck plate, Hogebuilt half fenders, and 315 inches of sleek wheelbase. The rig also has 8-inch Dynaflex exhaust with Pickett elbows, a polished drop visor, painted cab and sleeper extensions, and a vertical lift bumper from 12 Ga. Customs. Inside the cab, the truck features a unique “Stormy Sky” custom-painted Rockwood interior, done in gray and off-white, which has a marbled look. All the chrome and stainless for the truck was ordered through Homer’s Custom Chrome Shop out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (you can get your free copy of 10-4 Magazine at Homer’s each and every month, too).

Selling his 2003 Great Dane reefer, Nick ordered a new 2017 Wabash 53-foot sliding spread-axle stainless reefer in 2016. These days, Nick hauls refrigerated LTL daily from Germantown, Wisconsin, to Chicago, Illinois. When he isn’t in the truck or cleaning and maintaining it, he is spending time with his daughters – Callie (6) and Aubree (5) – who both love hanging out with their dad and riding along whenever possible. During the warmer months, with time permitting, Nick can be found out on the open road, riding his Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special.

I asked Nick what he would suggest to someone looking to buy their own truck, and he said to make sure you have extra funds in the bank, because you never know when you’ll have a breakdown or need something repaired. Simple but sound advice, for sure! It is always good to have that cushion of cash available, because you never know what is coming around the next corner – it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are first getting started.

Being able to see and take advantage of “opportunities” – whether they come from good things that happen in our lives or bad things (like being laid off) – is what separates successful people from the pack. After losing his “great” job as a brick layer, Nick Trensch was able to successfully change his career path to one he likes even more, and it has paid off well. Today, he owns a sweet ride and enjoys his work. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, God speed your return home and truck safe.

About Stephanie Haas