Spotlight on an American Trucker: Ben Lujin

Spotlight on an American Trucker: Ben Lujin

Ben Lujin has been in trucking for almost 10 years, although he’s had family in trucking since the 1950s. He credits any success to “pure perseverance and maybe even a little stupid luck.” He drives a 2012 Freightliner Coronado with 260-in. condo sleeper powered by a DD15 engine and a 13-speed manual with 18 speed shifter head on it. He pulls a 2004 Utility 53-ft. reefer wagon, hauling “a lot of potatoes” out of Idaho and otherwise going “wherever the money is—with some exceptions.”

Q: How are maintenance and repairs handled? What do you do yourself?
A: I have a trusted independent shop in Idaho, but I try to fix what I can. I’m educated in automotive service but diesel-dumb. So I research online a lot, asking others [for help] in forums. I try to avoid dealerships and truck stop shops as much as possible. I don’t really want to bash anybody, but I want my truck in the hands of those who appreciate my business. To me, that means fast and accurate diagnostics and repairs—done right the first time by experienced staff and at reasonable rates.

Q: What are the major challenges you face with your maintenance/repair program? How do you handle them?
A: One is keeping up with it. I always have a list in my head of stuff that needs to be done. Two is having the money available in advance. And three is finding the time and energy. I try to prioritize maintenance/repair items according to safety/urgency/necessity levels. The carrier helps immensely with the financial resources, but I haven’t figured out the time/energy thing yet.

Q: Do you stock any parts for your trucks or purchase as needed?
A: I have a few filters on board, but I mostly buy as needed.

Q: What are your specifications for your trucks? Do you purchase used and customize them to your specs or order new trucks built to your specs?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever left anything bone stock. I’ve never had the pleasure of spec’ing a truck beyond [thinking] I’d like a Coronado. I’m torn between that new Western Star model and buying a pre-emissions truck and refurb’ing it. Either way, it’d have to be more aerodynamic and more fuel efficient than what I have now.

Q: How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck or trailer?
A: I guess when it dies. I still own my ‘firsts.’ And I may have to hit the Pick 6 Lotto before buying new again.

Q: What do you enjoy about trucking?
A: Well, there’s the “paid tourist” aspect of it. I’ve seen more things and places than I could have imagined. I feed America and keep her alive. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that goes along with that. Also, trucking is a great opportunity for people-watching, not to mention the variety of accents, foods, cultures, climates, etc. And I like not having someone breathing over my shoulder.

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