Those who strive for perfection are often dogged by that obsessive and unending need to get it just right. Although this urge for excellence does create great things, that “never satisfied” feeling can be frustrating. But, if used properly, this personality disorder can drive people to build amazing, nearly-perfect projects – which is the case here. “Never Satisfied” is a Kenworth show truck owned and built by J & L Contracting of Springfield, MO, and it is just about as perfect as a rig can get. In fact, this incessant need to satisfy their perfectionism has spurned an entire new company at J & L called Never Satisfied Builds, which specializes exclusively in customizing other people’s trucks.
Many of you faithful 10-4 readers probably remember J & L Contracting’s “Contender” show truck. This heavy-haul Peterbilt 389, featured on our December 2015 cover, was the first show-worthy rig the company ever built and took to the shows. Once building trucks gets into your head, it can be hard to stop – so they didn’t. Shortly after “Contender” finished its nationwide tour, the guys at J & L got to work on their next big project – the “Never Satisfied” Kenworth seen here. However, this cool rig, unlike the previous one, was built purely for show.
Owned by Jamie and Malona Williams, J & L Contracting was formed as an off-shoot of Jamie’s father’s company, Williams Construction, after having problems finding sub-contractors with excavation equipment and dump trucks. Although it was set up as a separate business, originally J & L Contracting was the excavating side of Williams Construction. However, as the business grew and expanded to include moving other customer’s heavy equipment, not just their own, things really began to take off. Today, J & L Contracting has almost 150 employees, 70 trucks, 120 pieces of “yellow” iron, and 60 company-owned pickup trucks (the heavy-haul division alone now has about 50 trucks and 65 trailers). Jamie and his father David own Williams Construction together, but Jamie is president of both Williams Construction and his company, J & L Contracting.
Dustin Shipman (36) is the lucky guy who gets to take this truck to the shows. Having been a driver for J & L since 2005, he was one of the first employees at the newly-found company. Back then, there were only four or five people involved, and Dustin was hired, at 22 years old, to operate a dozer and drive a dump truck. With plenty of education and experience in welding and fabrication, mechanical work and driving, Dustin was a good fit with the growing operation. After several years of running heavy-haul, many of them in the Kenworth you see on our cover and on these pages (before it was made into a show truck), Dustin got off the road and moved into a management position at J & L. Since about 2015, Dustin has been the Heavy Haul Manager for J & L Contracting. Managing all the trucks and drivers, Dustin also does sales, schedules loads, dispatches, builds trucks, does PR and promotions, drives on occasion when needed, and many other things.
The 2008 Kenworth W900L, which is now the “Never Satisfied” show truck, started its life as a very plain-Jane, factory-built, heavy-haul truck. When J & L Contracting bought the 525 ISX-powered truck in 2010, equipped with an 18-speed transmission and 46-000 lb. rears, it had about 95,000 miles on it. Painted white with a black frame, the truck was about as bone-stock as it could be. Dustin and a couple other drivers drove it like this for several years, until it was pulled off the road to be repainted in 2015, with about 600,000 miles on it. Looking to simply freshen it up, they painted the truck Viper Red, but then decided it needed stripes, too. Once the wheels started turning in their heads and the ideas began to flow, they were off to the races – and the show truck build began!
The first thing they did with the truck was send it to Brunner Fabrication in Joplin, MO for all the custom metal work. While at Brunner, the KW was fitted with custom body drop panels, step-box covers, headache rack, visor, window chops and deck plate. They also made a custom punched grill and matching air cleaner screens featuring the Kenworth emblem shape, as well as the brackets for the Bad Ass Custom Truck Parts single-hump fiberglass rear fenders. Also, mounted between the rear fenders, they made brackets for custom steps, that would later be covered with KW emblem-shaped billet aluminum step plates, made by someone else.
Once all the fabrication work was done, the truck was taken to Springfield Peterbilt, where it stayed for eight months. Replacing the stock hood with an A-model style (with dual round headlights) Jones Performance hood, the folks at the dealership worked tirelessly to sand and smooth the underside of the fiberglass hood. Once that tedious task was completed and the new fiberglass rear fenders were mounted, the re-painting process could begin. After sanding and prepping the entire truck, it was totally re-painted Viper Red (for a second time), then the Pearl White stripes with Cobalt Blue outlines were added – they even painted the underside of the hood, stripes and all, to perfectly match the truck’s exterior. While there, the dealership also pulled and painted the engine.
After that, the truck went back to J & L for some exterior finish work, which included the installation of a Valley Chrome bumper, 8-inch Dynaflex exhaust and a lot of small LED lights. The truck also got billet aluminum lug nut covers (on the front) from Roll On Customs, polished mirror brackets from 12 Ga. Customs and nine cab lights. Advanced Fabrication in Springfield made a custom stainless cover for the firewall and back of engine, while Dynaflex provided the chrome air tubes under the hood.
The final step of this 22-month project was the interior. Taking the truck to Davis Bros. Designs in Owensville, IN, it was fitted with a custom, and very cool, interior. With many red, white and blue painted pieces inside to match the outside, the interior also got custom carpet, engraved billet foot pedals, door panels with matching stripes and built-in speaker pods, and white diamond-tuck leather with red buttons throughout the entire cab and 72-inch standup sleeper. The 4,800-watt JL Audio entertainment system has 22 total speakers, seven amps, a DVD player, (2) 17-inch monitors in the sleeper, and (4) 10-inch subs. Davis Bros. did a stellar job on this mind-bending interior, for sure!
While at Davis Bros. getting the interior work done, several custom-engraved billet parts were made by a local machine shop in Indiana. These pieces included a tail plate, several step plates, and custom arm rests, engraved with the KW-shaped emblem and J & L Contracting’s signature logo. The guys at Davis Bros. also made a chrome “Never Satisfied” engraved sign for the back of the sleeper that lights up in blue – a very nice final touch!
Once the truck was completed, with Dustin at the wheel, it hit the show circuit hard in 2017. Winning many Best of Show trophies in the Limited Mileage categories, “Never Satisfied” also earned a National Championship award in the American Truck Show Circuit (ATSC) for Best Limited For Show Combo in 2017. The truck was taken to a lot of shows in 2018, as well, but this year (2019) will probably be its last, as show trucks have a “shelf life” that eventually expires after everyone has seen it for a few years. To freshen things up a bit for this year, they are adding a customized 2020 Etnyre 55-ton 4-axle hydraulic detach lowboy trailer, painted red to match, behind the truck. After this year, Dustin plans to start moving some loads with the combo and using it for specialty hauls and promotions.
About three months ago, J & L formed a new company/division called Never Satisfied Builds. This division, devoted to customizing trucks for themselves and outside customers, is led by Design & Project Manager Randy Menkel and Lead Builder & Mechanic Bart Wilhelm. From mild to wild, they can do just about anything, including paint, fabrication and installation of accessories, along with heavy-haul modifications like hydraulics and added drop axles, as well as mechanical work and frame stretches. If you can dream it, they can do it! For more details, check out Never Satisfied Builds on Instagram.
Meeting up with Jamie, Dustin and Randy after the GBATS show in Joplin, MO last year to take pictures of the rig, we got the opportunity to go “underground” for the photo shoot! After meeting up at J & L Contracting’s shop, we all headed about two miles down the street to Springfield Underground. Wow – this place was cool! Opened in 1946 as the Joseph Griesemer Quarry in Springfield, MO, the limestone mining operation went underground using the room and pillar method of mining in 1954 to reduce dust and noise. By 1960, enough area had been mined to build the first 250,000 square feet of warehouse underground while still allowing for mining to continue. Mining and warehouse construction continued for over five decades, removing over 31 million tons of limestone.
Mining operations ceased in 2015, and today, Springfield Underground (its name since 1994) has 2.5 million square feet of leaseable space free from exposure to outdoor elements. The ambient temperature of the former mine is a constant 62 degrees. Springfield Underground has 192 dock doors, over 3 miles of lit roadway, over 2 miles of rail siding and ceiling heights up to 30 feet. We would like to thank Jamie Williams and John Griesemer for setting this location up and allowing us access down into Springfield Underground to take some of the coolest truck pictures we have ever taken!
As J & L Contracting continues to grow, its owner, Jamie Williams, continues to shrink! Concerned about his health, Jamie underwent a Mini Gastric Bypass Surgery late last year (November 2018) and, since then, has lost almost 100 pounds. These days, Jamie feels and looks great, and is excited to be able to now shop for his clothes in normal stores. Along with his partner in crime, Malona, the couple has two children – Jack (16) and Lauren (15) – both of whom are still in high school and very active in sports and such.
Jamie Williams is very thankful to have some great people around him to not only help run the businesses, but to allow him to have a personal life, too. In addition to the people mentioned before, like Dustin Shipman and Randy Menkel, he would also like to thank Lee Perry, Field Manager for Williams Construction, Chad Perry, Fleet Manager for both J & L and Williams Construction, and Dustin Taylor, Excavation Manager for J & L. All these key people are integral for alleviating stress in Jamie’s life and helping his companies to succeed. Regarding the “Never Satisfied” Kenworth show truck, Jamie would like to thank Davis Bros. Designs, Brunner Fabrication and Springfield Peterbilt.
Married for 14 years to his wife Dana, Dustin Shipman has two boys – Ryder (10) and Reed (4). After taking a few years off to have babies, Dana now works for Bass Pro Shops, at their corporate offices in Springfield, in the accounting department. And, since Dustin loves to hunt, he loves her job! Dustin kinda misses driving, but he is thankful to have such a great job at J & L Contracting and wanted to personally thank Jamie and Malona for all the opportunities they have given him. He looks forward to many more years at this family-oriented company.
In their last story about the “Contender” truck, we talked about how 2015 was their “year of the show truck” with that Peterbilt. But, with the addition of the “Never Satisfied” Kenworth and a few others since then, it seems that year never really ended. And although they may never be completely satisfied about anything they build or do, we are sure that their customers will be. Maybe the name of this truck (and their new truck-building company) should be “Completely Satisfied” – because we sure are!