Mike Jester has been driving since 1996, when he turned 22. His love of trucking came from his father and grandfather, both truckers. He went on egg delivery runs with his grandfather when he was five, and that’s when “the diesel bug” bit him and he knew he wanted to be a trucker. When Jester started Susquehanna Transport in July 2005, he hauled auto parts. Now, his main focus is flatbed freight. He drives a 2001 9900IX International with a 6NZ Cat engine and pulls a 1997 Raven 48-ft. flatbed trailer.
Q: How are maintenance and repairs handled?
A: I do the vast majority of my own maintenance. For major work, I have three great independent shops: J&T Diesel in Carlisle, PA; Elmer’s Garage in East Berlin, PA; and Shoemaker Garage in Dillsburg, PA.
Q: What challenges do you face with your maintenance/repair program?
A: No matter how well I plan and how much cash I have set aside for major repairs, there seems to be a constant shortage of money. I do my best to add to the maintenance and repair account, and I maintain a strong relationship with my banker.
Q: What are your mileage/time intervals on preventive maintenance?
A: I perform regular PMs every 10,000 to 12,000 mi. and grease the tractor and trailer every 5,000 mi. I mainly stock light bulbs for the marker and tail lights on both tractor and trailer, as that’s critical.
Q: How do you minimize downtime?
A: Downtime for maintenance is difficult to coordinate with the demands of family. I try to schedule it to get done as soon as possible when I’m home. As for major repairs, I try to [keep] up on minor repairs so there are fewer major ones. Second, when a major repair occurs that will result in extended downtime, I’ll rent a tractor so I can keep the cash flowing.
Q: How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck/trailer?
A: My plan is to stay on top of maintenance and repairs, and repair as necessary. With all this untested technology for emissions causing a lot of downtime with new trucks, not to mention the cost of a new truck, right now rebuilding is far more financially viable than replacement.
Q: What do you have in place to ensure CSA compliance?
A: Maintenance, maintenance, and maintenance. I stay on top of both minor and major repairs.
Q: What do you enjoy most about trucking and hauling the type of freight you do?
A: I love driving. Life doesn’t get much better when you can have a career where your office view is constantly changing as I travel and see the country. I’ve got great customers and I get to meet lots of interesting people. Simply put, I was born to truck.
Q: What does your company do best?
A: [We provide great] service to our customers. They know when they hire Susquehanna Transport, it’s going to be done right.
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