For many years, the truck polishing industry, as a whole, has earned a bad reputation. When thinking of a polisher, many imagine a near-homeless person, looking filthy, lurking around the truck stop, wanting to polish your wheels for cash to buy God knows what. But lately, things have been turning around, and more business-minded people are now starting legit companies that uphold the values of quality and integrity. Evan Steger of Evan’s Detailing & Polishing in Chilton, Wisconsin, is one of these sharp guys who is trying to change that old perception, focusing more on the brighter side of polishing, and cleaning up this dull reputation.
Someone’s life isn’t always defined by their beginning or their end, but what life they choose to lead, how they impact others, and how they make their mark. For some, specifically this man, he had a dream and a vision which was built on a foundation of providing a good life for his growing family. This vision became reality and has since branched out and became intertwined with an industry that possesses a lot of negativity. This man has sparked a new level of pride, quality, integrity and respect in his line of work, as well as in the world of trucking. From the outside looking in, this is my story of Evan Steger: a son, a husband, a father, a brother, a friend and a polisher.
Growing up in the small rural town of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, which has a population of around 2,000 people, availability of jobs for minors like Evan Steger were extremely scarce. But, one company was willing to hire these young people, to give them a foot in the door into America’s workforce, and that was Perron Transport. Evan began working there at the age of 14 in 1996, which sparked his admiration for being around big trucks. Fast forward to 2000, right after graduating from high school, Evan polished his first truck. This truck was a Kenworth owned by Gary Vanderslundt who owned E & G Repair out of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. During this time, Evan was working at the popular truck wash most-know as “The Stretch” in Fond Du Lac.
Combining his love of trucks and his desire to earn a better income for the family he would eventually have, Evan took a chance in 2005 when he embarked on his own business adventure and began polishing full time, with the help of two part-time employees (one of which was his then-girlfriend, Tammy). Back then, they worked from home and saw struggles and hardship, but then a future and success. On August 27, 2005, Evan and Tammy were married.
April of 2010 marked the beginning of changes, advancements, partnerships and plenty of opportunities, as Evan and Tammy welcomed their daughter Lexi into the world and, four months later, Evan’s Detailing and Polishing got their first wheel polishing machine, which has since become a mainstay in Evan’s offerings to his customers. On October 21, 2013, the Stegers became a family of four with the birth of their second daughter, Laci, and then two months later they purchased their shop, with assistance from Tammy’s parents.
From a business perspective, 2015 was a pinnacle year, and just a hint of what was on the horizon. At the Mid-America Trucking Show in March in Louisville, Kentucky, Evan met the Maverick Abrasives sales team. Just prior to that show, Maverick had bought Sattex, which was the company Evan bought his polishing supplies from. Maverick is the parent company to Renegade Products, a company who has become well-known in not only the truck show circuit and trucking industry, but also in the polishing industry. Since teaming-up, Evan, Rami Aryan (owner of Maverick Abrasives) and Renegade have made many advancements in the world of polishing through business decisions, product testing and marketing. Evan stands behind the products because they help him to give his customers exactly what they are paying for – a top-quality shine at a reasonable price.
Along with the new relationship with Renegade Products, Evan entered the truck world beyond just being a polisher in July 2015 when he became a truck owner. Purchasing a 1984 Peterbilt 362 day cab cabover from John Wegener out of Davenport, Iowa, the rig, which sports a 125-inch wheelbase and a 350 Cummins, became the rolling mascot for Evan’s polishing business. Hooked to a 28-foot 1996 Utility van bought from Hanefeld Trucking in Burnett, Wisconsin, it is a sight to see. Also in 2015, Chris Fiffie of Big Rig Videos came all the way up to Wisconsin (from Florida) to create a video called “Dirty Business” about Evan and the polishing industry. This 40-minute documentary, which now has over 80,000 views on YouTube, paved the way for more exposure for Evan and his company, and brought a much deeper insight into the world of polishing.
When asked what Evan thought classified a good polisher, he said, “A good polisher is someone who takes pride in their work, and someone who appreciates a hard day’s work with the outcome of a mirror shine that is destined to impress. Someone who shows up on the job, not only mentally and physically prepared to work, but is also prepared with all the necessary supplies to get the job done. Someone who is legitimate, which means having all the proper permits and paperwork, insurance, and pays taxes. Someone with integrity and work ethic to strive for excellence.” All too often, there are polishers out there who work for cash and keep pricing to a minimum because they aren’t answering to Uncle Sam, which makes it hard for legitimate companies to compete. But, like everything else, you get what you pay for. Preventative maintenance on your rig should always include your shine.
Today, Evan’s company has seven full-time employees including Evan, his wife Tammy and younger sister Ellen Korb. Along with the seven full-time employees, seven part-time helpers are also on the payroll. At several shows a year, you will see Evan’s Detailing and Polishing partnering up with other polishers in the prep lot. This year, Evan started expanding his operation with two new franchise locations – the first one is in Hutchinson, Kansas, under the direction of Philip Recker, and the second one is in Superior, Nebraska, under the leadership of Zach Cambron. These franchises are happening because of the alignment of company values, quality work and professionalism. The idea is that all the companies grow together and maintain the same level of quality service that Evan’s Detailing and Polishing is known for.
When asked about his best shine compliment, thus far, Evan said it was given by Glen Rice, owner of the cool “Hacienda II” Kenworth rig. Glen has had his rig polished all over the United States, but in 2015, prior to the Big Rig Truck Show in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he called Evan and said he wanted him to do it. Once Evan was finished, Glen looked over the work and his eyes went right to the fuel tanks. He said he had never seen a shine like that. Glen said, “People post pictures of a shine like that, but when I see the truck in person, it’s not actually that good. Some people take great pictures, but you actually do great work!” That compliment really made Evan feel good about his work.
On June 17, 2016, Evan turned 35 years old and also, along with his family, hosted the 3rd annual Evan’s Detailing and Polishing Charity Golf Outing. The purpose of this event is to raise money and awareness for the needs of our wounded warriors. This is a way for Evan to give back to the community and to those who have fought for the very freedoms we enjoy today. Each year, an individual is selected from within or around the community to receive the funds raised. This year, close to $10,000 was raised for two wounded warriors! This event has grown every year, with more donations and more attendees, coming out to play golf and show their support. Keep a look out on Evan’s Detailing and Polishing’s Facebook page next year for information on the 2018 Charity Golf Outing, which Evan hopes is even bigger than this year’s event.
Don’t be fooled by what you see with Evan Steger – what you see on the outside is only the surface. If you take the time to talk with him and his wife Tammy, you’ll realize they are humble, good-hearted people. Evan exudes an air of professionalism, backed by a deep knowledge of the products he uses. He is devoted to his family and close-knit group of friends. As a friend of both Tammy and Evan, I can say that you want to know them – not for what they can do for you, but for the quality of friendship they provide. Evan lives his life by the saying “Shine On” – not just for polishing, but as a way of life. I am proud to know Evan, but even prouder of what he is doing – showing the trucking world that there is a brighter side to the truck polishing industry.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks go to Stephanie Haas (Diesel Addict Photos), Chris Fiffie (Big Rig Videos) and Evan Steger for all the pictures.