This month’s creation was built for Stephen Mesh (48) of Chelsea, Vermont. So, what do you call yourself when you’re too young to be “Old School” and too old to be “New School”? Well, Steve came up with a great new term that just might describe many of you – “Middle School”! Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, most of Steve’s favorite trucks are from that era, so he set out to build a cool “Middle School” truck that was not too flashy but not too plain – one as close to stock as possible that would still stand out – and we think he accomplished that goal.
Steve’s trucking roots go way back. Steve is the great-grandson of Fred Sisser, a trucking pioneer who formed a moving and storage outfit in New Jersey in 1913. Sisser Bros. was once the largest trucking company of its kind in America, and Steve is the fourth generation in the family to work in the trucking industry. He said that he got the trucking “bug” when he was about four years old, and watching Smokey and the Bandit, BJ & the Bear and Convoy back then didn’t help to stop the spread of that affliction.
Born in New Jersey, Steve later moved to Vermont with his mom after his parents divorced. After graduating from high school, Steve got a job at a local truck dealership that sold GMCs and Freightliners. After that, he went to diesel school and became a certified Cat and Cummins mechanic. For the last 17 years, Steve has hauled for Stage Call Specialized Transportation, in their automotive and racing division, moving all sorts of interesting things in whatever trailer they hook to his truck – and he loves it!
Steve’s first truck was a Peterbilt 352 COE with a KT 450 Cummins – he only drove it for two years and still, some days, he wishes that he had kept it. His next truck was a 1989 IHC 9360, and the third one was a 1993 Freightliner FLD120. In September of 1995, he purchased a beautiful 1996 Kenworth W900L. He ran that KW for 17 years, and when he recently sold it to buy the new truck seen here, it still looked as good as the day he bought it, even with well over a million miles on the odometer.
When it came time to purchase a new ride, Clint was flattered that Steve wanted to buy it from him. Clint had known Steve for years – he liked to stop by the dealership and “bother” Clint from time-to-time, but Clint had never sold him a truck. Clint was never bothered by Steve’s visits, and he was more than happy to help him.
The new truck is a 2014 Peterbilt 389 with a 78-inch HR sleeper, a factory 300-inch WB, Low-Air leaf suspension, a car-hauler front axle with factory air-ride, and dual factory stacks. Powered by an ISX 525 Cummins hooked to an 18-speed and 3.36 rears, the truck runs on 24.5 LP Michelin tires. Inside the nicely-appointed cab are two top-of-the-line Atlas 80 seats from Sears Seating and, back in the sleeper, Steve made sure to get a second bed, just in case the kids ever want to go. Looking for that “Middle School” look, the guys thought it would be cool to do a 90s paint scheme on the truck. After looking through all of Clint’s old paint manuals, they settled in on factory scheme #405 in Indigo Blue with Vivid Blue stripes.
When the truck arrived, not much needed to be done to it. Clint and his team, including the new body shop manager Cory Stuefen, painted the fuel tanks, extended the stripes across the back of sleeper, installed one of Clint’s stainless visors, and moved the quarter-fenders back one set of holes. Most of this truck is factory-built, and that is just how Steve wanted it to be.
When Steve came to pick the truck up, the sun was already down so Clint was not able to take any pictures of it. Really wanting to see his truck in the magazine, Steve agreed to give 10-4 a call the next time he was in Los Angeles so they could meet up with him and take the pictures. Taking the photographs a few weeks later on a beautiful, sunny California day, Steve had a good time hanging out with “Big E” (Erik) that day.
Married for 24 years to his wife Carolyn, the couple has three children – Hannah (18), Johnny (13), and Eve (10). Steve said his wife is awesome – she has been around since before he ever started trucking, and has stuck with him through it all. They knew each other in school, but didn’t start dating until two years after Steve graduated. And after all these years, he still loves them both – his wife and trucking – dearly.
Clint knows a good amount of people that work at Peterbilt, and he also knows that many of them put a lot of extra pride in their job that goes unnoticed or unappreciated. For this, Clint wanted to give those special people a big “thank you” for loving their job, because it shows in every new Peterbilt that rolls off the line. This “factory-built beauty” is a perfect example of what these folks can do, and it proves that “class” is still king at Peterbilt, no matter what people think about the new trucks. And if this “Middle School” cool thing catches on, Steve may have just coined the next big catch-phrase for a generation of truckers, like him, who are stuck somewhere between the old and the new.