Custom Truck One Source (Custom Truck) is the story of bringing a lot of companies together and figuring out how to make them operate seamlessly as one,” opens Ryan McMonagle, Custom Truck’s CEO

As a renowned single-source provider of specialized truck and heavy equipment solutions, Custom Truck offers a vast rental fleet, as well as new and used equipment sales, and aftermarket parts and service. Its equipment breadth, seasoned experts, and integrated network of locations across North America deliver superior service and unmatched efficiency to its customers.

Load King, one of its subsidiaries, occupies a unique position within the business. It manufactures many of the bodies and attachments that Custom Truck uses to meet customer needs.

“Fred Ross, along with his brothers and two sisters, started the company based on the original idea of custom trucking equipment,” Ryan informs us. “Fred, who was our CEO up until March 2023, expanded into the market of remanufacturing and retrofitting trucks, growing the business to a phenomenal size.

“Fred and his siblings sold the business to a private equity fund, Blackstone, in 2015, by which time it had grown to reach around $330 million in revenue, employed more than 400 people, and occupied eight locations. Blackstone then went on a transformative acquisition spree, purchasing and integrating ten businesses over a three-year period.

“Specifically, from a manufacturing perspective, two acquisitions are particularly important. There’s the Load King trailer business, which was purchased during that time, and we later acquired the Boom Truck, Truck Crane, and Crossover product lines from Terex, which was then rebranded as Load King Cranes.

“After the acquisition spree, we went through a phase of organic growth, growing our footprint by investing in the rental fleet and improving our production capabilities. It was also at this point that Blackstone sold its control to Platinum Equity in 2021, who went on to merge us with a utility rental company known as Nesco. This doubled the size of what is now the Custom Trucks rental fleet almost overnight, and we also became a public company at the same time.

“Figuring out life as a public company has been interesting, especially alongside the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain challenges,” Ryan recalls. “We’ve had great success overall, and it has been fun to be part of growing that business and now it’s exciting to be responsible for leading that business moving forward.”

Today, Custom Truck boasts more than 35 North American locations which vary from truck or car dealerships to service centers. The business carries out production at five sites primarily, additionally two sites are primarily manufacturing locations. “We are constantly exploring expansion possibilities, both in terms of square footage and production capabilities,” Ryan details. “We’re adding 200,000 square feet to our production site in Kansas City, for example, which sits on almost 150 acres. It also means we can bring on new employees, as creating jobs has been a key part of our strategy over the last few years.”

Throughout the company’s growth, its commitment to delivering superior service has remained at its core. “The Ross family are passionate about the idea that if we prioritize taking care of our customers, the business will grow from there,” Ryan elaborates. “Whether it’s supporting a client with renting or purchasing equipment, buying a new truck, or figuring out the best used truck for a certain budget, we offer a one-stop shop to meet our customers’ demands.

“This model, along with the breadth of our product range, is the secret sauce that has allowed us to grow in the ways we have. Also, the fact that we produce our own trucks, whether diggers or bucket, dump, and water trucks, has been another key competitive advantage for us to be able to scale.

“Our most important consideration is how we execute our growth strategy while maintaining superior customer service,” he reveals. “Nearly all of our acquisitions are former family-owned businesses with strong roots, so we were keen to embrace history and create a sense of family across the organization.”

Like many businesses in the fleet market, Load King is facing the challenge of meeting both new and existing demands as electrification sweeps industries across the globe. “There has been a move towards electrification for several years now, and we are continuously striving to be at the forefront of such technology,” states Ryan.

“With a federal mandate around electric chassis, we’ve worked with partners to adopt some of these in our fleet, but as a nation we need to see an improved infrastructure to have confidence in an all-electric fleet. However, we’ve established a solution to help companies address some of their concerns over emissions while the surrounding infrastructure evolves.

“The Lightning PTO product is an electric power take off (ePTO) that drives the hydraulic system responsible for operating equipment on the back of a truck. If you think about a bucket truck with an arm and a bucket that goes up in the air; historically, you have to leave the truck running to power the equipment, whereas we’ve created an electric battery system that allows you to run the machinery without running the vehicle’s engine.

“This not only results in significant diesel and fuel emissions savings, but also reduces maintenance costs,” he continues. “We’ve realized that there’s huge value and opportunity to help customers work towards their goals while infrastructure for all-electric fleets evolves. Many of our customers are working towards their own electrification goals, so we’ve leveraged our expertise to create a hybrid solution that is a viable option to bridge the gap.”

As our conversation draws to a close, Ryan outlines his hopes for the business moving forward. “I see as much opportunity today as I did when I joined eight years ago,” he proposes. “We’re in an interesting moment in our industry as demand continues to rise, especially with electrification around the corner. We need to consider not only the impact of electrification on our trucks, but also the wider environment in terms of infrastructure, which is seeing investment at a national level.

“I see several years of further growth for Custom Truck,” he concludes. “Our aim is to grow thoughtfully by adding locations, creating more roles for people to step into leadership positions, and making the necessary investments to continue taking care of our customers. As we strengthen our relationships with suppliers and create a great culture for both our customers and employees, we continue to work towards being an industrial icon for specialty trucks.”