Successful businesses are often a mix of both traditional and forward thinking. And in today’s ever-changing regulatory and economic atmosphere, such a blend of old-school beliefs and modern-day strategy is critical to the success and growth of a trucking outfit. Justin Mascaro (33) of Cedar Fort, Utah and his thriving trucking operation, J.M. Mascaro Livestock, illustrate and epitomize the fact that success follows just such a proper mix of tradition and progress.
Born and raised in Utah, Justin Mascaro was brought up around trucking, and represents the third generation of truck drivers in his family. Justin’s love of trucks and trucking started at a young age, often riding with his father and helping him work on the trucks. Justin liked riding in the truck with his dad Leland so much that sometimes he would hide in the sleeper. Later on, down the road, Leland would realize that he had a stow-away on board. Taught to drive by his father (who is still driving part time at age 57) and older brother Jim, Justin learned in a 1994 Kenworth outfitted with a 400 Cat and a 13-speed transmission. Justin’s career began with his father, doing seasonal work, while driving for various other operations in between. In 2005, Justin became an owner-operator and has run his own trucks ever since. Trucking since he was 18, over the years Justin has hauled hot oil, crude oil and asphalt, and has pulled everything from dry vans and reefers to side-dumps and flatbeds.
Five years ago, in 2008, Justin was hauling railroad ballast (the aggregate bed that rail line sits atop), and like so many others, the recession that began that year meant less freight and less revenue. This economic downturn, paired with the memories of his father’s very cool cabover Kenworth livestock truck from when Justin was a kid (Justin’s favorite truck his father ever owned), Justin decided to hook-up to a cattle pot and has been hauling livestock ever since.
Justin’s first bull-hauling rig was a 2007 Kenworth W900L that he had originally bought to pull side-dumps with. Motivated by a turned-up 550 Cat engine routed through an 18-speed and 3.55 rears, the stretched, slammed, all-out dark green W900 would become his calling card and a well-known rig among many cattle haulers in the region. With plenty of chrome and big power under the hood, Justin’s first cattle truck was, for all intents and purposes, as true a cattle-hauling rig as you could want to build. But, Justin could see the writing on the wall and knew that the coming regulations in the industry, not to mention fuel prices, meant that owning and driving a truck such as this could have an enormous impact on his bottom line. So, Justin bit the bullet and ordered a new aerodynamic truck.
Justin’s concerns about the future were primarily driven by emissions regulations and fuel economy. Many, including Justin, were skeptical at first, but with help from his life-long friend Cody Woods, who also just happens to be a salesman at the Kenworth Sales Company of Salt Lake City (he was also one of the biggest skeptics about Justin’s new truck), Justin put in the order for the 2014 Kenworth T660 seen on these pages and on the cover and centerfold this month. Painted jade green and white, the truck was a clean slate on which to try new things and build a unique truck. Aerodynamic trucks present a different set of styling cues versus the classically-shaped long-nose trucks. Big exhaust stacks and lots of chrome can often look out of place on an aero truck. Cleaning up and smoothing out the look of the truck is often the name of the game with aero trucks, and that’s precisely what Justin did.
The power for Justin’s new livestock truck comes from a California-legal 550-horsepower ISX Cummins, routed through an Eaton 18-speed transmission, turning 3.08 rear gears. These extremely tall rear gears, which turn 22.5 low-pro wrapped aluminum rims, allow the truck to cruise along at 75 mph at only 1,400 rpm’s. With a factory air-ride steer axle and Kenworth AG400 suspension out back, the rig rides on 13,200-lb.steer and 40,000-lb. rear axles. Sitting atop a 260-inch wheelbase, the truck is not excessively long, and understandably so – a wide gap between the trailer and tractor would create a lot of turbulence and defeat much of the purpose of having an aerodynamic truck. But the moderate wheelbase doesn’t mean that this truck doesn’t have plenty of custom touches elsewhere.
As soon as the truck arrived, one of the first changes made was the dash. Justin pulled the entire dash out and had Kenworth in Salt Lake City paint the dash panels to match the truck. Along with all chrome gauges, the interior also features Sears Seating Elite 80 leather seats with a cut-down base on the driver’s side for a lower ride. Other interior features include a painted Grant steering wheel, green “marbled” Twisted Shifterz shift knob, and custom brake valve controls cut to look like aluminum truck rims. And as cool as the interior of this truck is, the exterior of this aero rig is equally impressive.
Ordered and built with an 86-inch Studio Sleeper, the truck’s exterior features a painted 12 Ga. drop visor and side visors (with matching pinstriping on the reverse), as well as Chrome Shop Mafia’s “Rollin Lo” painted half fenders. Above the visor sits 20 bullet-style cab lights atop the cab and sleeper, while the grille and hood have one-of-a-kind green “JM” keyhole Kenworth emblems. In addition to the visors and fenders, the truck features cool pinstriping throughout. Pinstriped by Jeff Devey of Jeff’s Custom Graphics in Twin Falls, Idaho, the striping is not excessive, emphasizing the body lines of the truck and subtly (but effectively) enhancing the overall look of the aerodynamic rig. Highlighting the deck plate, tank fairings, and the definitive Kenworth crowned hood, as well as many other areas, the pinstriping sets the truck apart well. The pinstriped deck plate, painted white against the jade green frame, was built by Zach Moorman, who also built the custom rear light bar, which features thirteen four-inch LEDs, as well as the airline box.
No less impressive than the truck, Justin’s new ride pulls a 2006 Wilson 4-deck livestock trailer. Featuring a stainless steel front, this cattle/hog/sheep combo livestock trailer features polished aluminum rims and over 100 LED lights from front to back. Hooked together, this slick combination features over 140 lights and is just as amazing lit up at night as it is in the day hours. Capable of hauling just about any type of critter imaginable, the truck is not only cool but flexible, as well, which is important in today’s ever-changing business environment.
A close look at the back of the tractor reveals the phrase “Different Strokes” painted on the rear frame panel – this is a reference to the television sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” that was popular back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In the Mascaro family, just about everyone carries a nickname (even in the time I met Justin and his family, I was given one). Justin’s nickname is “Arnold” which is a reference to Gary Coleman’s character on the show, Arnold Jackson (who made the line “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” so famous). This nickname, which was given to Justin when he was a kid, came from the fact that he had chubby cheeks (similar to Arnold on the show). Other nicknames in the Mascaro family include his brothers, Jim and Jake, who are also known as “Peanuts” and “Snack Bar” respectively. Needless to say, if you meet Justin or the Mascaro family, you certainly won’t forget them – and you will probably get a nickname, too!
With all the custom work done to Justin’s new truck, the question still remained as to whether the rig would prove to be as economical as he had been told it would be. Well, so far, it has (Justin is seeing an increase of over one mile per gallon versus his old KW). With diesel fuel prices upwards of $4.00 per gallon in some places, that one mile per gallon gain means thousands of dollars back in Justin’s pocket at the end of the year. So far, he likes the choice he made!
Plainly evident, Justin Mascaro is not just a driver – he is a businessman, as well. Over the years, Justin has steadily grown his business, building on the tradition of respectful, timely service and a clean image (for both the trucks and their drivers). Not surprisingly, Justin not only runs his own cattle rig, but also keeps five other cattle trucks busy, too. For Justin, it’s all about service – he and the drivers he keeps busy speak respectfully to customers, work hard, and always present themselves well. At J.M. Mascaro Livestock, dirty clothes, profanity, and laziness are left at the door. Putting the customer first, Justin’s hard work reflects his success.
But, Justin is more than a good driver and businessman – above all else, he is a family man. Justin has been happily married to his wife Macy for four years. Raising five young girls out in the country – Keara, Savanna, Shelbie, Kayli, and McCoy – Justin and Macy are happy to be raising their kids away from the chaos of the city. Though hauling livestock is certainly a full-time profession, whenever Justin is not on the road he spends whatever free time he has with his wife and kids. For Justin, the customer comes first, but he is devoted to his family. He hopes that in the future he can get to a point where he spends more time dispatching and scheduling loads, and less time away from home driving.
We got a first-hand look at how hard cattle haulers work for their families. Planning the photo shoot for the day after the Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show ended, Justin was not scheduled to pick-up his next load of bulls until late that afternoon, giving us all morning and afternoon to take our pictures. Shortly after we began shooting, however, Justin received a call from his customer informing him the load was ready to go and waiting. Kicking the photo shoot into high gear, we worked hard and fast to get everything done as quickly as possible so Justin could get on the road and get to work. After finishing the shoot in just three hours (that is a lot less time than most photo shoots), Justin had the truck hooked and ready to go. With a hug to each of the kids and his wife Macy, it was a real taste of just how hard Justin (and many truck drivers) work day in and day out for their families. This was also proof that Justin’s new ride was no trailer queen hiding in a shop until the next truck show – less than 24 hours after the show this truck was on the road earning its keep!
Justin is a straight-shooter who doesn’t beat around the bush and knows what it takes to get the job done. Hauling livestock is hard work and not for the faint of heart. More than just a driver, livestock haulers have to be everything from a mechanic to a veterinarian, keeping both the truck and it’s “live” (literally) cargo in check. But that hard work has its rewards, and Justin’s truck is evidence of that fact. Justin has put a tremendous amount of work into building his business, but he would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have helped him with his trucking career and more.
Justin would like to thank God above all else. He also thanks his mother Sheri and father Leland, as well as his brother Jim (along with his father) for their instrumental position in teaching Justin to drive. Justin would also like to thank the drivers he keeps busy for their great work and, of course, the customers who keep him busy, too! Thanks also go to Cody Woods for his help ordering the new truck, as well as Jeff Devey and Zach Moorman for the unique custom touches they added to it. Justin also thanks his family, including his brothers and sisters, for their continued support. Justin also sends a very special thank you to his wife Macy and their five girls for their love and support. He works hard for them, but they work hard for him, too!
Many people were not very supportive of Justin’s decision to order an aerodynamic truck. Livestock hauling is steeped in tradition and, for many, the square hoods are certainly part of that tradition. Justin broke the mold when he built his new truck, opting to create a new style instead of reliving the past. But that gamble, which so many were skeptical of, proved to be not only good business, but the basis of a seriously cool (and unique) cattle truck. It got our attention, that’s for sure! Needless to say, when Justin’s truck stops somewhere (rare as that might be), there’s no question about who’s truck it is.
Sometimes, regardless of what others say, you have to walk your own path, and that’s what Justin did. His last truck and this new one are both testaments to hard work and a good mind for business, and if they indicate anything, it is that Justin Mascaro and his company, J.M. Mascaro Livestock, will not be fleeting names. In business, like anything else, if you are not moving forward you are going backward, so we commend Justin for his “forward thinking” mentality. Like it or not, he embraced the future and adapted, which is something we all must do from time to time to stay ahead of the pack.