Customizing trucks has become a passion for Dan and Dave Brown, twin brothers from Antioch, Illinois. Together, working as DB Kustom Trucks, they are taking the term “pride in your ride” to an entirely new level by not only offering drivers the chance to buy a newly-built, head-turning custom truck with a minimal amount of money down, but also helping them to get set up to be a successful owner operator at a well-established company. It sounds too good to be true, but it is – you get a dream ride and a great job, complete with ongoing support and mentoring!
Dan is the “older” brother by a couple of minutes – he started driving in 1989. A few years later, in 1993, when they were 23, his “younger” brother Dave decided to join in the fun of life on the road and start earning the money his brother was making. He wanted to see the country, and there’s no better way to do that than behind the wheel of a truck. Later, after leasing on at Quality Carriers, they began to build their own fleets, and, eventually, their own dream trucks. Today, Dave’s company, D & S Transport, runs ten trucks, while Dan’s company, C & D Transport, runs three.
Last year, while my “sister” Heather Hogeland and I were at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, we got to meet the identical twin brothers with their dream trucks, which were similar (long and low and with clean lines) but nowhere near identical. Each brother tried to convince us why their truck was better, as their competitive natures shined in the Iowa sun. Dan was showing off his green “Lime Light” Peterbilt and Dave was showing off his Atomic Orange “Lucky Penny” Peterbilt.
Heather and I have both lived the dream of owning and driving our own show trucks, but the business these brothers were telling us about was an interesting concept. Working together with a large company, these boys help you get into a special Lease Purchase program at Quality Carriers (QC) and then build you the truck of your dreams, which you then put to work as an owner operator there. This is the ultimate recruiting and retention tool! When you are ready to roll in your new truck, you will go to QC’s school for a week, and then there are two weeks of on-the-job training. After that, you will get mentoring and help from the DB boys for up to two years.
If you don’t already know, Quality Carriers is a pretty solid company to work for. In business for over 100 years, the company started in 1913 with a single Pierce Arrow truck, which delivered lime and milk around Pennsylvania. Today, with about 2,500 trucks and 6,400 trailers, QC operates the largest bulk tank truck fleet in North America, and has a network of more than 100 terminals and support facilities across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Working with industry leaders such as Dow Chemical, Shell, Procter & Gamble, DuPont and PPG Industries, QC provides ample opportunities for their drivers and owner operators who are willing to take advantage of them.
DB Kustom Trucks was formed in March of 2014. In May, their brother CJ also came to work for them, leaving the corporate world he had worked in for 20 years, behind. He is in the office taking care of all the paperwork, and with all of the projects that the twins are doing, there is a lot. Getting the process started is easy but, like everything else, there is a lot of paperwork. There are two things you need to do to get the ball rolling: apply to work at QC and fill out a credit application.
To start the process, go to the website (www.dbkustomtrucks.com) and click on the “Apply Now” link. Then, after filling out a short form, you will be sent a starter pack. After filling out a credit application, you will be instructed to go to Quality Carrier’s website (www.work4qc.com) to apply with them. Once there, click on the “Drivers Apply” link at the top of the page. Fill out the application to work for Quality Carriers – when you fill it out online, it is submitted directly to QC. Anyone applying at QC must have a Haz Mat endorsement on their license, because they haul things like paint, latex and resin.
Once all of the paperwork is done and you get your approvals, Dan or Dave will reach out to you to begin the process of finding you the right truck. At this point, it’s all about timing, in regards to what truck will ultimately become yours. They will let you know what colors are available now or what is coming in the near future, or you can tell them what you want and they can build it (this, of course, takes more time). There are also options such as working as a driver or renting a truck, so you can start making money now, while waiting for your truck to be built.
Whether you choose a truck that is at or near completion, or if you wait on a new build (which can take from 60-120 days, depending on the truck), you are well on your way to becoming a successful owner operator. These older rigs are completely gone through, from top to bottom, to ensure that you are starting out with a strong, mechanically-sound tractor. They do their best to make sure you are not only driving a pretty truck, but a dependable one that will put money in the bank, too.
It was a treat for me to stop by their shop in Antioch, IL and see the process in action – this place is like a big truck toy store on steroids! Because drivers spend so much time inside their trucks, a lot of time and energy is spent on the interior, making it as comfortable and functional as possible. And hey, if it gets a little “tricked-out” in the process that is just the icing on the cake. Dave showed me the alligator material he plans to use as a seat insert on one of his current builds, and it was awesome. With stunning paint colors, exciting stripe schemes and even murals, I was pretty blown away with all that I saw.
At DB Kustom Trucks, they support our military! The first veteran truck they built is called “Semper Fi” (which means always faithful). Since they are always deployed first, it seems appropriate that their first veteran truck be a tribute to the Marines. Mike Ostergaard is the proud owner – and a Marine – once a Marine, always a Marine! This truck, which is “wrapped” with various Marine-related images, makes a bold statement when it rolls down the road. The boys are currently building their second veteran truck, which was in the shop the day I stopped by. This one is being built for Sean McEndree, a Purple Heart recipient, so you can imagine what color it is painted.
Looking at the pictures of trucks on these pages, it is easy to see that these guys have a good eye and know what they are doing when it comes to building trucks. They still operate their fleets, but both of the brothers walked away from the job of driving to put together this business plan that helps other drivers get into a truck that they might never have been able to buy or build on their own. And, at the end of the day, they get the satisfaction of watching their “labors of love” roll out the door to start building their new owner’s future. To date, there are about 60 trucks rolling down the road with the DB Kustom touch.
Completely committed to the business and their customers, Dan and Dave Brown are accountable for everything they do, and are truly there for the drivers they are helping, in regards to building them a great truck and helping them to succeed, once they are driving it. If you buy one of their trucks, you can take it to the bank that they will stand behind their work and do everything in their power to make sure that you have every chance to succeed.
So, if you have ever wanted to be an owner operator or wanted to drive a cool truck (or both), get in touch with these guys as soon as possible, because they have all the tools to set you up for success!