Truck wash offers quiet country ambiance with professional tank cleaning service
Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Mary Davis
Tony and Renee Miller of Salt City Truck Wash in the Piney Woods of East Texas have the benefit of a tank cleaning business combined with a rural lifestyle that many urbanites would envy. However, it wasn't always like that.
It was only in the late 1990s that they were able to leave their city jobs in the Dallas Metroplex and move to 30 acres of property they inherited near Grand Saline — a move that eventually would lead to them opening a tank trailer washout business.
Today, their home and the wash bay sit atop a hill overlooking rolling meadows thriving from the irrigation provided by wastewater captured at the cleaning facility.
All of this began when the couple originally moved to the farm, bought a milling machine, and operated a machine shop with eight employees. Tony had worked in the city as a machinist for 11 years.
“Everything was going well, but when NAFTA went into effect, we lost our customers to Mexico,” says Tony. “We were down to one employee.”
To fill the gap, he bought a one-ton truck and began a hot-shot service. “We also needed a truck for the machine shop, but the hot-shot service helped subsidize that business.”
But it wasn't long before a truck driver wandered onto the farm property looking for a wash service for his hopper trailer. “We were at home in 1999 visiting with a friend when this driver turned into our drive,” Tony recalls. “I asked what he was talking about when he asked for a washout and he explained. After I finished the job, he asked how much he owed me. We settled on a price and then we went out for a pizza. A few days later another driver arrived with a pneumatic trailer. Since then, it's been pretty much word of mouth.”
Today, the tank wash serves tank trailers, dry bulkers, vans, and hoppers and typically handles about 10-20 per week. The majority of the business is generated by a nearby salt processor that ships product to and from food processors and feed mills.
“In addition to the trailers hauling salt, we see a lot of fracturing sand used in the oil fields, roofing granules, and plastic pellets,” Tony says. “But we don't handle any trailers hauling hazardous materials.”
Miller began washing out trailers with well water on the property in an open area, using a garden sprayer and hose. It wasn't too long before things picked up. With his mechanical training, he decided to design and build his own tools that eventually led to a spinner that can deliver 60 gallons per minute. A 3,000 psi Landa washer is powered and heated by diesel and is used with Miller's equipment in the tank cleaning process.
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