LEXINGTON, Ala. — David McKinney’s 2016 Peterbilt Pride and Class 389, affectionately named “Part Time,” was a white Fitzgerald Glider kit when purchased. “It looked like a company truck,” McKinney said, “but we’ve completely redone it. He added accent stripes and accents inside and out and teamed the tractor with a Reitnouer “Big Bubba” aluminum trailer with matching accents.
Choosing Peterbilt was easy for McKinney. “I have driven Peterbilts since I was 21,” he said, “but this was my first brand-new truck.”
Getting into trucking was an easy choice, too. “In the area where I live, if you didn’t know somebody, then a good job was very hard to find,” he said. “Driving a truck was a good job, and I could provide well for my family.”
McKinney had the paintwork done at Rush Peterbilt and has been tinkering with the design ever since. One of the first changes he made was to replace the mirrors.
“I was used to the (model) 379 mirrors and I had a hard time getting used to the 389 ones,” he explained. The mirrors on the 389 were positioned differently to allow better visibility around the exhaust stacks, which changed with the inclusion of EPA-mandated particulate filters.
The dark blue of the Pete’s fenders and other parts is a match for an older Peterbilt that was the family’s mainstay for years, before the current business took off. The theme continues with the painted underside of the hood, and even the motor is white with blue accents.
The cab interior features white upholstery on the seats, ceiling and door panels, and a Rockwood floor sports the same blue accents as the exterior.
“Everything we couldn’t paint, we dyed” McKinney said. “It’s a little over the top, but it’s my truck.”
The family has participated in quite a few truck shows, winning multiple awards. In fact, in 2018 McKinney offered his wife, Connie, a choice between a trip to the beach or attending a truck show in Virginia. “I’ve never been to a SuperRigs,” she said. The trip scored the couple a spot on the Rotella SuperRigs 2019 calendar.
The whole McKinney family contributes to the 14-truck business. Connie is bookkeeper and administrator for the business, son Dalton is the dispatcher, and youngest son Dill manages the maintenance, for now. Dill is already working on getting his own CDL and will likely be driving one of the Peterbilts in the fleet once he turns 21.
“I’ll lose my shop help,” McKinney quipped. Dill will also participate in another family tradition. “We’re working on another truck for my son to show,” McKinney said.
The business has changed from the early years, when McKinney had equipment leased to a carrier.
“We had several trucks, but we left a carrier after a bad experience and really started over,” McKinney said. That was a low point for the business. “I tried to build a company on things I didn’t like and ended up failing,” he said. “But we succeeded when we went on my own.”
Currently, the McKinney operation hauls treated lumber and mulch products out of Central Tennessee, picking up return loads or deadheading, depending on available rates. In season, nursery stock can be found on the flatbeds — larger trees with heavy root balls, tied down and covered with a mesh tarp to protect against wind buffeting.
Quality trucks isn’t the only thing McKinney stands for.
“I went to a funeral recently and they were talking about the guy, saying, ‘He had integrity. He was honest,’” he related. “That’s what I want to be remembered for. That’s what’s important.”
McKinney’s drivers are expected to be good representatives of the business. “We try to be a little better. I expect our guys to keep the trucks clean and keep up a good appearance,” he noted.
McKinney insists that the company never deviate from its mission of quality.
“Don’t ever act like you’re better than anyone,” he said, “but don’t ever stop trying to be better than everyone.”
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.