Duncan Putman Trucking Photography - Cool Photos of Cool Trucks

Industry Spotlight

December 2019
Interview with Jr. Martin of Earl R. Martin, Inc.
ERM, Inc. 2007 Peterbilt model 379 with Detachable Towing Unit (DTU)
  • Mark Harter
  • Earl R. Martin, Inc.

Mark: Hello Jr, thanks for taking some time to talk with us again! Would you mind telling our readers a bit about yourself and Earl R. Martin, Inc?

Jr: Hi Mark, I appreciate the invite to chat. ERM, Inc was started in 1965 when my Dad bought his first truck, a 1965 Peterbilt model 351A.

My dad initially began driving trucks for some other local companies as well as farming for a couple years. He had rented a dairy farm in the early 1960s, but when the farm was sold, he decided to buy his own truck and stick to trucking. He gradually grew the business through the years, adding trucks and services to the operation.

I grew up around the business and loved everything involving trucks. I’m told I took my first short ride with Dad in his Peterbilt when I was around 6 weeks of age.

I spent a lot of my growing up years helping in the shop with washing, polishing, tire & service work as well as spending a fair amount of time on the road with my Dad. I did drive for another local company for two years before becoming a driver working for my father full-time in 1992. I ran over-the-road for a period of years and then gradually started splitting my time between the road and the shop/office.

In ’04 I started to buy the business from my parents and took over the role as President.

ERM, Inc. Peterbilt trucks
ERM, Inc. Peterbilt trucks

Mark: What kind of services does ERM provide?

Jr: ERM has 3 Divisions:

1. Petroleum & Propane Transportation: We transport these types of products primarily in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.

2. Dry Bulk Transportation: We haul Feed Ingredients and Agricultural commodities in our fleet of dump trailers and hopper bottom trailers throughout the USA and Canada. We also operate a Brokerage company and broker these loads to other carriers as well.

3. Shop & Maintenance Division: We perform all of our own maintenance on our trucks and trailers as well as for other customers. Currently about 65% of the work we do in our shop is for outside customers.

In regards to the services we offer, we are capable of doing everything you can do to a truck with the exception of alignments & painting. Some of these services include: general maintenance, engine & transmission rebuilds, frame modifications, gliders, accident repair, etc.

ERM, Inc. Peterbilt pulling a petro tanker trailer

Mark: What do you feel sets ERM and its services apart from other companies?

Jr: We’re blessed to be located in an area where there are a lot of trucks and a number of good options regarding truck repair. We are far from perfect, but try very hard to treat others the way we hope to be treated as well as standing by our work.

In this industry, a lot of folks out there look at a piece of equipment and really could care less how it is treated or repaired as long as it functions at the end of the day. We’re truck guys who take pride in our own equipment and work very hard to treat everyone’s elses equipment with the same care we give our own. We also understand the hardship of having a piece of equipment out of service, regardless if it is a truck needing wrecker service or a repair in our shop, we try very hard to get folks back on the road as quickly as possible.

Mark: You guys own and operate some impressive wreckers! Can you tell us about these rigs?

Jr: We currently have two wreckers. A 2014 Peterbilt model 388 equipped with a 50 Ton Century Body and the other is a 2007 Peterbilt model 379 equipped with a DTU (Detachable Towing Unit).

ERM does both local and long Distance Towing, Recovery & Undecking work with these trucks.

These trucks and this service has not only been a big help to our own fleet of trucks, but as well as to many customers throughout the years.

While it’s great to tow equipment to our shop and provide our services for a customer, we also tow for numerous other shops in the area.

ERM, Inc. 2007 Peterbilt model 379 with Detachable Towing Unit (DTU)

Mark: A unique thing about ERM, you guys have a garage and do a lot of custom work. Do you build show trucks? Restore antique and vintage trucks for customers?

Jr: Yes, we do quite a bit of custom work for our customers. We have a wide variety of customers involved in many different segments of the trucking industry, so customer needs and wants vary.

We have built a lot of gliders through the years for many different customers, but our friends at the EPA are bringing that chapter of the trucking industry to a close soon.

We also get into refurbishing or rebuilding older trucks as well. Typically these trucks are being redone to remain in service as a daily runner vs show only. We are currently finishing up a complete restoration on one of our leased operators trucks, a 1984 Peterbilt model 359 . The frame rails were deteriorating and the decision was made to do a complete rebuild of the truck. There’s way too many details to list, but a few of the highlights are:

  • The Peterbilt was completely disassembled. We started with new rails, a new rear suspension with disc brakes, new steering axle with air-ride, all new air lines and electrical lines.
  • New fuel tanks, an air operated flip up bumper, Cab & Sleeper modifications, as well as new dash panels & gauges in the cab.
  • We modified the Peterbilt, converting it from a short hood 359 to an extended hood 359. Engine modifications including rebuilding the driveline and detailed painting of the engine and transmission. The list goes on and on, but that's just a little bit of everything we're doing to this truck.

Mark: We know that some of your trucks have been painted by Mark Hollen at Denver Truck Painting, Does ERM and DTP do a lot of work for each other?

Jr: As I mentioned earlier, we are blessed to be in an area where there are many fine businesses. Mark and the folks at DTP are second to none. We have worked with Mark many times through the years with both our own equipment and customer equipment we are doing work on.

DTP was very involved with the 359 Peterbilt restoration I just mentioned above. They did all of the paint work as well as the hood, cab, and sleeper modifications, including lowering the roof, etc.

One of the things I’ve really appreciated with Mark and other companies in the area is that even though sometimes we technically compete with some of our services, it is “friendly competition” and at the end of the day we have each others backs.

ERM, Inc. 2007 Peterbilt model 379 with Detachable Towing Unit (DTU) pulling their 1968 Peterbilt model 352

Mark: What are some of the most common services that customers contact you about?

Jr: Well, each day is a new surprise. We have a lot of long-term customers in each of our divisions. A lot of our work in the shop is repeat maintenance and fairly routine work. There’s also a lot of last minute calls for help with breakdowns, accident repairs, and diagnosing engine issues.

On the transportation side, a lot of our work is ordered a day or more in advance, so it’s fairly routine. That said, if the energy markets experience a big move one way or the other on the stock market, it changes our schedule with loads being moved up or pushed back based on pricing at the loading terminals.

Bottom line is, that about the time we start to feel like we have our schedules figured out, it all changes again. That’s the part that drives you crazy, but also makes you love the business.

Mark: Does ERM own any trucks for show?

Jr: I guess that depends on your definition of Show Truck. In my mind our trucks are not show trucks, but we own a few unique trucks.

1. 1965 Peterbilt model 351A: This was my dad’s first truck that he bought. We ran the truck full-time until it was wrecked in the mid-1980s. Long story short, he wanted to scrap it after it was wrecked but I begged him not to as I wanted to drive the truck, so he made the decision to fix it up and return it to service and for several years we used it regularly until 1995. At that point in time, we did a complete restoration of the entire truck.

After the restoration, I ran the truck locally for about a year before we retired it. I wanted to get everything “broke in” well before retiring and taking it off the road.

We don’t use the truck for freight at all anymore, but do take it to shows and play with it. Sometimes it's just fun to hop in it on a Saturday night and go out for dinner.

ERM, Inc. 1965 Peterbilt model 351A
ERM, Inc. 1987 Peterbilt model 359
Jr. standing with his father and their 1968 Peterbilt model 352

2. 1987 Peterbilt model 359: We had many 359’s through the years and I decided that I would keep at least one for old times sake. We had originally bought this truck for our Dry Bulk division and was equipped with a 36” sleeper and ran it full-time throughout the USA & Canada until 1999.

The truck had over a million miles on it and the engine needed a complete rebuild. We decided to rebuild the truck, removing the sleeper and using it in our Petroleum division. We replaced the frame rails and made some other modifications as well as put in a brand new 3406 Mechanical Cat engine. (last one that Giles & Ransome Catapiller had in stock since electronic engines were taking over the market at that time).

After the rebuild we ran the truck full-time until about two years ago. Now it is semi-retired and I keep it at home in my shop. It is still my truck of choice when I go out on local runs.

3. 1968 Peterbilt model 352 Cabover: This was my Dad’s third new truck that he purchased. We ran it full-time pulling a flatbed, hogs with a livestock trailer, as well as a dump trailer until 1980. At that time, my Dad sold the truck to a local farmer. In the early 2000s I contacted the farmer and asked him to let me know when he was ready to retire the truck, as I had interest in buying it back. A few years later he called me and I was able to purchase it. To this point we have not restored it and it's in pretty rough shape. I keep that at home in the barn as well, but hope to do a restoration of the truck in the near future.

Mark: Does ERM sponsor or have any involvement in any truck shows?

Jr: We don’t do a lot of the truck show stuff. I really enjoy trucks, but am somewhat old school in my preferences. A lot of the shows anymore are newer trucks all tricked out. And while I can appreciate these trucks, I much rather prefer old iron that isn’t perfect in appearance, but is still working and has “personality”.

Shows like the Macungie Antique Truck Club of America and other similar ones I find very enjoyable. That said, we have been involved in numerous shows through the years. Most recently we were a sponsor at the Hunter Keystone Nationals held at the Lebanon Fairgrounds. We took the ’65 Pete and our two wreckers to that event.

ERM, Inc. 2014 Peterbilt model 388 tow truck

Mark: How can companies and individuals contact ERM if they are interested in your services?

Jr: They would be welcome to call us at (717) 354-4061 or find more information on our website at www.EarlRMartin.com.

If folks are ever in our area, feel free to stop in for a cup of coffee and visit a bit!

Mark: Thanks againJR. It's always great speaking with you and ERM!

Jr: Thank you Mark! Appreciate your time and the conversation!

Earl R Martin, Inc.
  • Special thanks to Jr. Martin for taking time to speak with us! To learn more about Earl R. Martin, Inc, please visit their website at: www.EarlRMartin.com.

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