This month’s cool creation, or should I say creations, were built for David Crye of David Crye General Engineering Contractor, Inc. in Morro Bay, CA. No stranger to hard work, David has been at is since he was 15 years old and has never slowed down. With a large construction and engineering outfit, several rock quarries, and lots of heavy equipment, a small fleet of trucks is necessary to run these operations, and I am proud to say that the last few trucks he has added to his fleet were ordered and customized by me and the crew at Kansas City Peterbilt.
Born and raised in Morro Bay, located on the Central Coast of California, David Crye is the fourth generation of the Crye family to operate in the local construction industry there. David was destined to follow in the path of his family. As soon as he could walk, he would be on a job with his father, Ed Crye. At this young age he was positively influenced by family, friends, and the community as to the correct way to run a business. He was taught the value of honesty, work ethic, quality in craftsmanship, and that a handshake goes a long way.
James M. Crye Jr., David’s grandfather, was in the trucking business in the 1950s. He started with a 1948 International bobtail dump truck, then added two more 2-axle tractors, to pull the single axle end dumps of the day. The first 2-axle was a 1951 Ford and the second was a 1954. The 1951 was a straight six-cylinder gas engine, and the 1954 was V8 gas engine.
David’s father Ed starting riding in trucks with his father as early as the age of two. At some point, David’s grandfather James sold his trucks and went to work for others. Growing up, Ed started unloading concrete trucks on job sites at the age of 10 because there were not enough drivers for all the mixers. Ed’s father or uncle would bring him to the job sites in the first mixer, and then someone would take them back to the concrete plant to get another mixer. Not only did David’s grandfather, father, and great uncle work at the local concrete plant, but his grandmother was the bookkeeper, as well (similar to the kind of family operation that exists today with David’s company).
In 1981, David’s father went into business for himself as a general engineering contractor. His first truck was a 1960 KW 10-wheeler dump truck with a 335 Cummins hooked to a 5-speed main box with a 4-speed brownie. In 1985, a second 10-wheeler was purchased – a 1965 Peterbilt. In 1999, Ed purchased a 1996 KW 10-wheeler dump truck glider kit, which had been built by another individual, with an older 400 Cummins for power, along with a 13-speed, SSHD rear ends, and a 16’ dump box.
In the early 2000s, Ed purchased a 2-axle 1984 Peterbilt 359 tractor, powered with a 400 Cummins, hooked to a 13-speed. The fifth wheel was removed and then the frame was stretched, which allowed them to mount a 2,500-gallon McClellan water tank with a Deutz air-cooled diesel for power to the water system, on the truck. Unfortunately, all these trucks mentioned have left the state of California due to the state’s strict (and ridiculous) emissions standards.
At just age 15, David took a loan from his grandparents to buy his first piece of equipment. His parents would drive him to jobs until he could legally drive. In his early 20s, David acquired his contractor’s license where he continued to excel in excavating, grading, utilities, and trucking. David incorporated his business in 2001, with jobs ranging from residential, commercial, and government projects. A true family operation, David’s dad Ed dissolved his own construction business a few years ago and now works for David full time, and his mother, Bernadette, runs a tight ship as the company’s office manager.
In 2013, the opportunity arose for David to diversify his business and he began operating his first rock quarry in Morro Bay. In 2015, he acquired two more rock quarries in Cambria, as well as another one (Navajo Rock Quarry) east of Morro Bay. In 2018, David was able to expand into the landscape business with Cambria Rock LLC, located near San Simeon. He now supplies aggregates throughout Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. On the construction side, David’s company offers many services such as trucking to haul materials or heavy transportation, install and repair sewer, water, and storm drain systems, excavating and grading, base placement and paving, and all types of demolition. David’s diversification of operating a construction business and acquiring four gravel pits has served him well and gives him a competitive edge when bidding jobs.
One of the more “famous” (or should we say infamous) projects David was a part of was the rebuilding of scenic Highway 1, on the coast of California, after the largest landslide in the state’s history occurred near Big Sur in 2017. Millions of tons of rock and dirt poured down in four separate slides and buried a third of a mile of the road under 35 to 40 feet of debris. This slide was so massive, it actually redefined the coastline! David and his crew provided the equipment, trucking, and materials for the repair, which took almost three years to complete.
Throughout his career, David has worked to build a business and a group of employees who are committed to providing their customers with the same virtues instilled in him as a young man. Time will tell, but history may be repeating itself, as David’s four-year-old son James has no problem getting behind the controls of a mini excavator. Running a business in California, especially one that operates trucks and heavy equipment, can be difficult, but what really excites David is the challenge of the process and production – be it on a job site or processing aggregates – to the specifications of each job. David operates with a minimal crew and prides himself on the efficiency of their production.
David’s first truck purchase was a 3-axle 1981 Peterbilt 359 tractor, which he purchased in 2003. Like everyone else, David had issues with finding competent drivers, so he decided to sell the truck, along with his end dump and lowbed, and rely on others to haul his materials and transport his equipment. He operated under this scenario until 2009, when he finally purchased a 3-axle 2006 Kenworth W900. In 2011, he added a 2002 Peterbilt 379 transfer, which David customized by being able to pull the dump box off and then put on either a fifth wheel or a 3,800-gallon water tank with a hydraulic pump system. In 2016, he bought a 3-axle 2003 Peterbilt 379. All of these trucks have since been sold due to California’s emission standards set through CARB.
Over the past few years, due to his need of transporting materials from the quarries and equipment to and from job sites, David started building his fleet back up. Today, he has ten Peterbilt 389s, of various configurations, all painted in his signature blue color (some are embellished with black accents). I am proud that the last four trucks were ordered through me. David and I have a mutual friend in California, and that friend referred David to me.
Originally, David ordered just one 2020 Peterbilt 389, but by the time it was all said and done, he had ordered four of them. One of the 389s has a 44” flattop, a 565-hp Cummins X15, an 18-speed, a LowAir suspension with a car-hauler air-ride front axle, a Platinum interior, and all the goodies, while another is a tandem axle day cab, also with a 565-hp Cummins X15, an 18-speed, and an AirTrac suspension (the dash plaque on this one says “Custom Built for Dirty Work”). Another one of these new Petes is also a day cab, but this one is a 2-axle truck with an X15 Cummins, a 13-speed, Platinum interior, and, again, all the good stuff. The last new 389 is a low boy truck, equipped with a 605-hp X15 Cummins, an 18-speed, a 20K front axle, 46K rear axles, and fully loaded, as well.
All four of the trucks were ordered and customized in similar ways – they all have hidden DEF tanks, extra paint work, drop visors, cab lights, fully-functioning straight stacks, and Hogebuilt polished stainless fenders. They also got flush mounted deck plates, breather lights, painted tanks, extra grill bars, and chopped air cleaner screens (done by my dad). Some of the trucks also got painted stripes, some got painted drop panels, and the low boy truck got a body drop, along with painted stripes and painted front fender lips. We even sandblasted and painted one of his dump trailers to match, too.
Tyler and the entire crew at KC Peterbilt did a great job getting these four units dialed-in and ready for delivery, where they were immediately put to work at David Crye General Engineering Contractor, Inc. David and his crew were kind enough to provide some neat pictures of their entire fleet, parked in front of Morro Rock, and hooked to some of their trailers. David is a super hard worker and a great guy, and I am proud to have been a part of building this amazing lineup of trucks. David Crye has been working hard since he was 15 years old, and he has no plans to slow down anytime soon!