This month’s article is not so much about one specific cool “creation” that Clint has built, but more about the man (and company) that Clint has built several trucks for. Mike Bennett (63) of Michael Bennett Trucking in Seneca, Kansas has been one of Clint’s longtime customers. Over the years, Clint has ordered and built several trucks for Mike. In just the last four years, Clint has ordered and built three glider kits for Mike’s fleet, and he was one more on order right now.
Mike grew up on a dairy farm. His parents, Gene and Pat Bennett, worked hard. Mike said that his dad milked cows every day for 40 years, taking only two Sundays off throughout that entire time. His dad retired four years ago but can still work circles around most people. Mike learned a lot from his parents, but seeing how hard they had to work on the farm, he decided early on that he did not want to be a dairyman.
When Mike was growing up, his neighbor, Benny Holthaus, ran trucks. Mike rode a lot of miles with Benny in his cattle truck, maybe more than some people drive their entire lives! When he was 24 years old, Mike bought his first truck from Benny – a 1966 IHC 2000D single axle with a 40’ cattle trailer. Mike’s wife Debbie (since 1969) remembers how she could see the road through the floor of that old truck. In 1975, Mike bought a new Peterbilt and never looked back.
Today, hauling mostly grain and livestock all over the country, Mike has 17 trucks, and all of them are top-notch rides. Mike has always believed in buying new trucks loaded with all of the options – this keeps his resale value high and helps to retain good drivers. Mike was featured in 1983 in Peterbilt’s 1st Class Magazine, where he discussed many of these same topics.
Of the 17 trucks Mike currently owns, four of them live a pretty good life inside the shop. He also has two newer work trucks currently sitting inside, waiting for drivers. Mike firmly believes that it makes more sense for him to park a nice truck than to put a “steering wheel holder” in it. Mike has very high standards, and he holds his drivers up to those standards, as well.
Some of the trucks Mike has parked inside can be seen in the pictures here. One of them is an all-original (except for the wheels and tires) 1984 Peterbilt 359 Mike bought from Kansas City Peterbilt back in 1983. This clean factory 2-stick truck has a 3406B under the hood with only 146,000 miles on it. Mike takes this rig out on rare occasions just to keep the seals good.
For years, Mike bought his trucks from Clint’s mentor, Phil Cooper. When Phil died, Clint inherited Mike as a customer, and the two hit it off right away. Since then, Clint has built many trucks for Mike. Another one of the trucks parked inside is the last one Mike ordered from Phil – a 2000 Pete 379 with a Cat C-15. Mike drove that truck every day until Clint sold him a 2002 Pete with a C-16. Today, the 2002 also sits inside, with only 580,000 miles on it. The last “inside” truck is a 2007 Peterbilt 379 with a Seminole paint scheme. This was one of the last 379s sold, and it only shows 18,000 miles on the odometer!
Of course, most of Mike’s trucks work hard, and most look similar to the 2011 Peterbilt 389 seen here. Mike and Debbie have one son, Paul, who is married to Deann. They also have three grandkids – Garrett (8), Katelyn (5) and Taylor (1), who love to hang around the shop and make popcorn with a machine they have there. For Mike Bennett, doing everything “First Class” has never been an option – it has always been and always will be a smart business choice!