Loyalty is important to D’Artagnan Curtis, just like it was to The Three Musketeers. They were loyal to each other like he is loyal to his business, his family and his friends. Growing up on the mean streets of Los Angeles, D’Artagnan has achieved a comfortable level of success through hard work, perseverance and loyalty, and he is proud of that. “Born to Lose, Built to Win” is one of his favorite mantras, because he can relate to it. So how did he end up behind the wheel of such a cool truck? Simple: he set his mind to it, never gave up and made it happen!
D’Artagnan Curtis (40) was named after his father, who had been named after one of the main characters in the 1844 novel “The Three Musketeers” written by Alexandre Dumas, but most people just call him DT for short. Born in Gardena, California and raised in the nearby city of Hawthorne, DT did not come from a trucking family, but he always loved trucks – especially Peterbilts and dump trucks. After graduating from high school, DT got a janitor job at a hospital, and then later became a teacher’s assistant for special education kids. After two years, he was involved in a car accident and ended up with a settlement check – not a huge check, but it was enough to get a new venture off the ground.
Looking to start his own company, at 21 years old, DT used his accident settlement money to buy a tow truck and formed D & A Towing (the D & A stood for Destiny & Achievement). The wrecker was a 1988 Ford Super-Duty with an aluminum Century bed. Hustling the streets to find business, DT worked day and night, and was eventually able to buy a second unit – a 1994 Ford F-350 gas-powered wheel lift truck. Not long after that, he got a third truck, and this baby was “the bomb” at that time – a 2001 GMC 4500. Hooking up with a specialty car builder in Los Angeles called 310 Motoring, DT ended up hauling a lot of cool cars to movie premiers and photo shoots. But as much as he liked the towing gig, the big rigs were calling.
In 2004, wanting to spread his wings a bit, DT bought his first truck – a 1989 Peterbilt 379 short hood Super-10 dump truck – and D & A Trucking was born. DT purchased the truck from Leslie Riley who, at the time, ran a shop called Super 10 City in Gardena. At first, the truck had a small 36-inch sleeper, but it didn’t take long for DT to realize that it just didn’t look right, so he had it removed and shortened the wheelbase. He also had the truck painted dark blue (which was the color of his tow trucks) and then added some extra lights and chrome. Once again, beating the bushes for work, he landed a big job in Visalia, California. DT spent three months in Visalia, and earned enough money to buy a second truck for his friend Fred Triplet to drive (actually, Fred got the first truck and DT got the newer one). That second truck is pretty similar to the first one, except that it is a 1995 with a long hood.
Mike Chandler, one of the guys DT works with, convinced him to buy a plain 10-wheeler dump truck because he said that he could keep it busy. DT has always trusted Mike’s advice, so he bought a white International dump truck and put another driver in it, and, just like Mike had said, it was money in the bank. At this point, DT was now running three trucks and doing a lot of work for Mike Chandler (Keep It Moving Inc.), Jeff Young (J.W. Young Trucking) and Leslie Riley (he closed Super 10 City and started running his own trucks and brokering loads as L. Riley Trucking & Dispatch). In the beginning, DT only hauled dirt, but as times got tougher, he began moving other commodities like asphalt, broken concrete, gravel, and anything else he could find.
The dump truck community is a pretty tight-knit group and almost everybody knows each other (or at least each other’s trucks). DT befriended a fellow dump-trucker named Eddie Anayas who had nice red trucks, and soon the two were competing to see who could build the better ride. Cesar Carrera at Westcoast Kustom Rigz in Fontana, CA built Eddie an all-white dump truck with black stacks and DT absolutely loved it. Now the bar had been raised. In early 2011, DT bought a 2005 Peterbilt 379 OTR truck with a 265-inch wheelbase and a sleeper, which he planned to build into the next great Super-10 dump truck – and raise the bar above where Eddie had previously set it!
After finding a used drop-axle and dump box, DT took the truck to a shop in Fontana where they removed the sleeper, installed the drop-axle, and added the dump box. Now that it was a Super-10 dump truck, DT took it to Cesar at Westcoast Kustom Rigz to be customized and painted, but not like most trucks – he wanted it to be camouflage-colored with absolutely no chrome. Cesar was skeptical about how it would turn out, but eventually came to like the idea. Cesar and his guys first took the truck apart, and then did some mechanical repairs. After that, they sent all of the chrome pieces out to be powdercoated flat black, including the wheels, stacks, bumper, grille, visor, fuel tanks, battery boxes, mirrors, brackets, and air cleaners. While all that was being done, they went to work on the elaborate camouflage paint scheme.
Inspired by a picture he saw in a book featuring military airplanes, DT chose an “edgy” four-color camouflage design featuring brown, black, light green and dark green – all of these colors were flat, of course – even the final coat of clear. All of the painting was done by Joel from Riverside Paint, along with help from Ernie of Martinez Trucking. After laying down a base of flat black, the guys painstakingly taped off the jagged camouflage shapes, spraying each color one at a time, until the entire truck was covered. Taking the theme inside, the dash panels and a center console were also camouflaged. To go along with the “urban assault” theme, Cesar modified an air-soft gun into a custom shifter that looks like a real high-powered assault rifle.
Once everything was painted, the rig, which gets its motivation from a turned-up 625 Cat and a 15-speed transmission, was put back together and outfitted with 8-inch stacks, 389 Peterbilt headlights, 13 bullet lights on top of the cab, extensive amounts of LED lighting from United Pacific, and custom-painted camouflage Peterbilt emblems. DT had the Bentley-inspired black leather interior expertly-stitched by a shop in Inglewood, CA called Supreme Upholstery.
The idea behind the camouflage and no chrome was that the truck would not only be easy to clean, but as it got used and dinged-up, it would actually add character to the truck and allow it to age gracefully – and we think DT hit a bullseye with that theory! DT wanted to thank Cesar and his crew for all of their hard work, citing that Westcoast Kustom Rigz is one of the only full-service repair and customization shops in Southern California. Cesar is proud of the truck, and wanted to thank his team for stepping up their work on this project. He also wanted to thank his wife Susie for all of her help running the business, and for her moral support.
DT has never been interested in becoming an OTR trucker – he isn’t excited about sleeping in his truck or driving in unfamiliar places – but he loves dump-trucking. “Going to the dump is like a party for dump-truckers, especially the one at Rose Hills. The atmosphere is really fun, and sometimes we race each other up the hill.” When he’s not at a local landfill, you might find him snagging loads at an asphalt plant like the one in the pictures here (thanks go out to Eddie Anayas for getting us into the Shawnan Asphalt Plant in Downey, CA to take the pictures). While there, a bunch of DT’s dump truck friends showed up to offer their support, including Chuy from Esqueda Trucking, George from GQ Trucking, and Little Timo. DT wanted to thank these guys for coming by and being part of the fun. When he’s not out there working or goofing off at the dump, he and his wife’s four kids fill the rest of his time.
Finding good loads, running his truck, and dispatching his three others, keeps DT pretty busy. Most of the time, you will find DT with his cell phone pressed firmly against his ear, as he is hustling loads for the next day. Happy with the size of his operation (four trucks), DT is not looking to grow, but he does have plans to begin upgrading his equipment soon. DT is a “make it happen” kind of guy, and he, along with his great drivers, has worked hard to make D & A Trucking “happen” – and will continue to do so.
A firm believer in karma, DT believes that everything you do, good or bad, will eventually come back to you – so he tries to do more good than bad. “If you put your mind on something and have good people to support you, everything will always work out okay. If you stay loyal to your work, your friends and your family, they will stay loyal to you, and you will succeed.” DT feels so strongly about this, he had “Loyalty is Priceless” tattooed in large letters across his forearms.
Which brings us back to the beginning, back to The Three Musketeers and their famous mantra about loyalty: “All for one, and one for all!” It is all starting to make perfect sense now. Although this D’Artagnan may not carry a sword, he does have an assault rifle in the palm of his hand whenever he drives his camouflage dump truck, so look out! Loyalty may be priceless, but it should (and will) be protected at all costs!!