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Thread: Pierce (Appleton) vs Pierce (Bradenton / Contender)

  1. #1
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    Default Pierce (Appleton) vs Pierce (Bradenton / Contender)

    Anybody out there with an Appleton built Pierce and a Bradenton built Pierce (Contender)?
    Anybody made factory trips to check out the Appleton and Bradenton plant?
    If so, are they the same quality? Have you noticed any differences?
    I know the Contender series claims to achieve a savings due to pre-enginering and designing basic trucks with a limited number of pre-enginered and pre-designed options. By building the same basic design over and over they can keep costs down. Make sense especially if what they offer is what you need. Special features and special designs are done at Appleton and design and engineering costs, custom fabrication, etc. run the price up accordingly.
    We have 2 Appleton built trucks (4 door engine on an International chassis and a 2 door tanker on an International chassis) and have been extremely pleased with them. I have been to the Appleton factory 6 times and have always been amazed at the quality of work done, the attention to detail, and always the most impressive thing is the friendliness of the workers and how much they seem to truly care about doing a good job.
    We are about to purchase a new engine and are leaning toward another Pierce (if they get their pricing right). Finances though, may very well dictate that it will be a Bradenton truck. Will the overall quality be the same?

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    I have been to both plants. The Bradenton (Contender) plant is in the next county and its where we do the yearly pump tests on our apparatus. I was at the Appleton plant 3 years ago to meet witht the design people for our new aerial. The Appleton plant is most impressive!

    We dont have any Bradenton built trucks. All of ours are from Appleton (3 engines, 2 aerials and a mini pumper), so I can only go by what Ive seen (not used).

    The Contenders are as nice as any other trucks Ive seen ( E-One, Luverne, Salsbury, etc), but they seem to be missing something that the Appleton trucks have. They dont seem as "polished". Then again, I think thats the whole idea of a haveing a lower priced line.

    I would still buy a Contender before I would an E-One or any othe others I mentioned. But my first choice would be Appleton built.

    Dave
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    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

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    As Dave mentioned the Contenders are nice but not quite as "polished" looking. We have a few of the Contenders around my area and they seem to be functional enough. Of course it's all in the specs or options you choose.

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    I got to go to the Appleton plant for pre-construction meeting/planning/finalizing/tour/eating trip. I was simply amazed at all aspects of it. The first thing that sticks in my mind was the people. Everyone was so damn nice. I'm used to people around here who are all disgruntled at something and hate everyone. By the third day, I just wanted someone to say "Hey, scew you!"

    The main plant and the chassis plant tours were very impressive. I left very confident the truck wasn't being built by a bunch of rejects who don't care and rolling out of a pile of crap parts. No BS there for sure.

    We did not go to the Contender facility. We were told about it so I don't have anything better to offer there. Just like everyone else said... off the shelf firetruck. I would however venture a guess that it is of no less quality than the "real deal" in Appleton.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Question

    We are presently looking at a new engine. Our Pierce rep said some of the components, (Cab and Chassis) on a custom Contender is a Saber with a few less options. They actual make them in Appleton and ship them down to put the body on in Florida.

    I seem to think that of the "Program" trucks the Contenders seem to have more options available within the "program" than other manufacturers. Does anyone agree?

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    Default Pierce VS Others

    Sometimes a big show is exactly what it is, a big show! Our department made the mistake of buying a Piece Contender with an International Chassi. What we dont like about it is the overall design. You all are right, its not polished and its cheaply made. Its the Yugo of the firetrucks. We just recieved a grant for 195,000 and we looked at about 10 different truck manufactures. Ranging from E-One to Seagrave, what we liked the best was a small company out of Missouri called Firemaster. They built a commercial truck for us (Freightliner) 4 man cab. We put a 1500gpm Darley pump on it, 750 tank, but here is the best part about it. We could customize the compartments. They built each compartment seperatly, then painted, then attached to the truck. We wanted our high sides on the passenger side, done, we wanted roll up doors on the top high sides and swing out door on the bottom comlpartments (with slide out shelves) done. We were able to go into the deal and basically design a custom commercial truck (if there is such a thing). Another thing, they love treadplate, they cover the heck out, protecting easily damaged or scratched places, plus they used galvaneal and 12gauge metal. You need to check them out. I think their website is firemaster.com, we worked with Chris and Scott (great guys)! Oh, our price was right too! We end up having leftovers for some new packs.
    Good Luck
    Smokey240

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    Originally posted by ChiefDog
    We are presently looking at a new engine. Our Pierce rep said some of the components, (Cab and Chassis) on a custom Contender is a Saber with a few less options. They actual make them in Appleton and ship them down to put the body on in Florida.

    I seem to think that of the "Program" trucks the Contenders seem to have more options available within the "program" than other manufacturers. Does anyone agree?
    Don't know
    when spec'cing out rescue pumper last year, local couldn't or wouldn't quote what a contender would be

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    Does Smokey240 sound like a dealer? He put the same type of reply in a discussion topic I started about a new tanker purchase. Shortly after he replied there...lo and behold we got a phone call from Firemaster wanting to send us some literature on a new tanker.

    I might be wrong, but sounds kind of fishy...

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    Default Busted

    Ok, so you caught me bragging about one of the best built trucks in the business. No I am not a dealer, I am the manufacturer. On a serious note, we make a great truck. Tanker, Engine, Rescue, it doesnt matter. Our trucks are not built on a huge assembly line where what you see is what you get. You actually can customize the truck to your specs. Chassi, you choose, I dont care. Pump, whatever you want. Body style, again you design we build. Our truck bodies are built on a modular body that allows us to easily customize it to your specs. High Sides, roll up doors, Pink Paint, I dont care. Now we are not the biggest and flashiest company in the biz, but I would take one of my trucks up against anyones. We compete in price as well. Check out our simple website www.firemaster.com and then call me if you have any questions or if you really want to buy a good truck.

    Oh and my real name is Chris Russell
    (800) 641 4724
    chris@firemaster.com

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    Why nor just buy the apparatus you want and need from either Pierce or Seagrave!


    Let the want to be's and the small companies stand by the curb and watch the finest apparatus made by the finest two companies go by. These two companies will be still in business when all others aren't!!! Plus they will fully standby there apparatus, where the others will hem and haw about who did this and that and who is going to pay for repairs. KME, Grumman, Fererra comes to mind.


    We have always used the best and never had any heart ache either. These two are sole source!!!




    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Ok, so you caught me bragging about one of the best built trucks in the business. No I am not a dealer, I am the manufacturer.
    Now that that is settled....It does not bother me who you are, but if you are a dealer or rep, it is only fair to identify yourself upfront; rather than push yourself off as a fire department buying a fire truck. Almost sounds like ambulance chasing to me.

    I have checked out your website (kind of how I hit on the suspicion of who you might really have been), and I was impressed with the equipment I saw. I could not tell if you build composite tanks, but that is what we are looking at.

    Let the want to be's and the small companies stand by the curb and watch the finest apparatus made by the finest two companies go by. These two companies will be still in business when all others aren't!!! Plus they will fully standby there apparatus, where the others will hem and haw about who did this and that and who is going to pay for repairs. KME, Grumman, Fererra comes to mind.
    This is pure bull. I know Pierce and Seagrove have both done the same. We have two trucks that were built by "small" companies, and both have stood up just fine and will for many years to come. The day any manufactuerer can make a perfect truck that NEVER has ANY problems (body, tank, pump, electrical, engine, tranny, etc...) will be the day the devil comes to the surface and asks for a coat and gloves!

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    Originally posted by CaptOldTimer
    Why nor just buy the apparatus you want and need from either Pierce or Seagrave!



    We have always used the best and never had any heart ache either. These two are sole source!!!

    They make their own engines, transmissions, axles, brakes, and pumps now?

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    No pfd3501, No apparatus makers makes it own engine, tranies and pumps.

    The problems comes from the smaller makers using different cab and chassis, bodies, aerial devices that has the problem. We have a spotted dog ride. It is a Fererra built on a HME chassis with an LTI aerial on it. Every time we have problems with the aerial, we go back to Fererra and they say it is not our problem it is LTI's. Or we have a problem with the cab or somethng make by HME and Fererra says the same thing. We have had more than our share with electrical problems with this unit. The rear end has been replaced no less than 6 times since 1996. Buying sole source, cab and chassis, body and aerial if it has one, being built by the same company that the chassis was built by will always be better than one built by several companies. If you have problems you don't have to contact different makers or providers.

    Yes, we use only Detroit engines, Allison tranmissions and Hale pumps.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    If you've replaced the rear end 6 times then the vehicle wasn't specced right.Period, end of story.While I don't disagree that Pierce and Seagraves make a nice piece,to suggest that ANYTHING else is inferior/not up to the job is ludicrous.Support comes thru many forms,the first being your dealer.I have vehicles built by (gulp)Rosenbauer,and we've had issues.And they've all been fixed.One was a electronic issue repaired by Cummins,one was a door switch issue fixed by us.A lot of your success will be based on speccing the vehicle not who built it.The examples are right in NY,some/most of the "outbuilts"that are always being brought up as "deficient" WERE NOT built to FDNY specs.And YES,their specs are unique and VERY functional for the tasks they do.A short history lesson would "nutshell"FDNY apparatus as follows regardless of mfg;A realitively short wheelbase vehice with overbuilt everything.Huge brakes,large motor,top of the line(established)pump/or ladder,without bells and whistles(increased "up" time)"overbuilt" suspensions ,and basically "Mongo"proof.Am I suggesting that my brothers and sisters in NY are all Mongos? Nope,but their equipment HAS to function day in and day out for decades.Study the history of FDNY apparatus over the last quarter century and you'll see how to build reliable apparatus.But it doesn't have to be single source to do that job although there are some advantages to having it so. T.C.

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    Default Busted

    Maybe representing myself as a fire dept wasnt the best way to get a point across, but actually I have fought fire behind our trucks. We still use firemaster trucks. (Nixa, MO) So I am not completely misrepresenting myself.

    As far as tanks go, we make our tanks out of steel, fiberglass or you can have a poly tank. Its up to you!

    Yes Pierce and Seagrave are great trucks, but they are assembly line trucks. You want a custom truck on a good commercial chassis, then Firemaster is the answer, oh and we have been around since 1963. Not bad huh?

    Have a great day everyone.
    Chris Russell
    (800) 641-4724
    chris@firemaster.com
    www.firemaster.com
    Last edited by smokey240; 01-14-2005 at 01:09 PM.

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    Yes, Pierce and Seagrave have custom trucks, but wow, the price is crazy.

    Chris

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    Our Pierce rep said some of the components, (Cab and Chassis) on a custom Contender is a Saber with a few less options.
    Same thing with Pierce's Enforcer. Its the same as a Dash, just different options (we have both).

    Our trucks are not built on a huge assembly line where what you see is what you get.
    Thats funny. When I was at the Pierce plant I saw all kinds of different types and styles of trucks. And we were even able to spec what kind of mud flaps we wanted. Sounds pretty individual to me.

    For what its worth, I do think the small builders have a point. Our 1984 Pierce, built when they were a much smaller operation, is built like a rock, with nicer fit and finish then our new ones. Our newer ones dont compare well to it, though they are fantastic rigs. Same could probably be said for most of the "big time" builders.

    The down side of the small operations is what happened to the department I used to work for. They bought an FMC, and it was the most solid, best put together rig Ive ever been assigned to. But 3 years after they bought it, FMC stopped buling fire apparatus and after that getting parts was near impossible. Same thing happened to another local FD that bought a Young. Dont think that would happen with Pierce or Segrave.

    Dave
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    When this thread started, I was looking for input from people that had experience observing first hand how things worked at Appleton and Bradenton or people who had first hand experience with an Appleton built Pierce or a Bradenton built Contender. I didn't want see another thread bashing one manufacturer and singing the praises of how someone else really does it better. It seems the thread deteriorated after Smoky spammed us.

    I'd still like to hear first hand Appleton vs Bradenton experiences.
    If Smoky wants to promote his own product, let him start a thread about it and be up front about where he's coming from. If a manufacturer, dealer or sales rep can't sell their product on it's own merits without resorting to knocking his competitors products perhaps...?


    Yes Pierce and Seagrave are great trucks, but they are assembly line trucks. You want a custom truck on a good commercial chassis, then Firemaster is the answer
    Pierce builds an excellent custom truck on a commercial chassis. I know, we have one and for several years it was the cover shot on their commercial pumper brochure.

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    We have a 93 Dash and a 2001 Contender on the KW chassis. The bodywork on both is very good especially if you compare both of them to our 99 KME. The Contender would seem to be a good deal for the price, a local dept. just got one on the KW chassis and it had several additions over the standard truck and it still came in at a price they could afford with a FEMA grant. We have been using our Contender as first out while the KME was in for repairs (insert joke here) and there haven't been any complaints which is suprising considering that complaining seems to be a time honored tradition. As for Firemaster one of their early rigs on a Freightliner chassis is in reserve at a dept. near us, when purchasing 2 new rigs they went with a different regional builder (Precision in Camdenton MO) it would appear they weren't especially happy with their Firemaster.

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    GEFD - after perusing the pierce and their contender websites I have the following to offer

    The Contender is there "stocker" fast order/ lesser options, etc. For example, in looking at the contender "custom" I think that the only body offereing is with low side compartments with ladders above compartments - the traditional "firetruck" body. It won't be a "rescue style" body with high side, full depth compartments on both sides. You won't have the choice in extras like a variety of generators, etc. They have foam systems, but the choices are limited compared to what is built in Appleton. What you are getting is a Pierce cab/chassis with their version of a cookie cutter body.

    I have no doubt that Pierce will stand behind a Contender just like they will stand behind an appleton, wi pierce. I'm sure that they have the same overall quality standards to ensure a safe rig.

    The contender is built in Florida for a reason - lower labor cost. It is probably with a crew with less totall experience than the main plant. That will show up little fit and finish things.

    Get a list of people that have contenders similar to what you are looking at. Call them. Get their opinion. That's part of the due diligence of any truck purchase. Good luck, and stay safe.

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    Looks like they only offer aluminum bodies with the Contender.

    Or am I missing something?

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    The Contender is offered with either low or high on the curbside, and yes, it is only in aluminum. Generator offerings are very limited.
    GRC063

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    Default Separation of Brands

    While I tend to agree with many of the comments here in regards to the Pierce “standing behind the product” and it is a decent truck for the buck, thing, I would offer a couple additional comments. As to be VERY clear, yes, I have a “relationship” in the business of fire trucks, in addition to being a purchaser. So before the complaining starts, take my opinion and outlook with a grain of salt. I always try to be objective when posting in hopes to offer a valid “opinion” that can benefit the readers and posters of FH forums.

    After doing some searching on the net and reviewing sample specifications of the “Contender” I would offer the following thoughts of the “Contender”:

    Weaknesses:

    Body- The body is .125” aluminum. Pretty weak material, but this is parallel to what the majority of the industry seems to be doing in order to remain competitive against one another. The Pierce body though, uses a “carbon steel” subframe though. ICK!! While the spec states that these materials will be isolated, I would still lend that carbon steel is very very corrosive and old school technology. Cheap? Yes! Cost effective to manufacture? Yes! Long term corrosion resistance? No! The spec I have states: “The support system shall include .25” “formed” vertical and horizontal steel angle supports bolted to the chassis frame rails with .625” diameter bolts”. Key word; “Formed”…this is bent sheet metal. I would lend that "formed" materials do not offer nearly the strength of tube style or angle framing found in most manufacturers custom apparatus. I would lend that the steel subframe is the bandaide to support the weak and VERY thin wall and floor materials. The spec also states: “a ten year “limited structural failure” warranty”. While this is nice, what does it cover? “Failure”? Is rust and bubbles, failure? AND what is this word “limited” mean? Hmmmm....who knows, but one should always read the fine print for exclusions such as "salt conditions" or "if used in a corrosive environment", voiding a warranty and many other little exclusions that can get you in trouble.

    Tank overflow- 4” meeting the absolute minimums IPO of maybe 6”.

    Steps and running boards- All .125” (1/8”) aluminum treadplate. Pretty light stuff with some of the firefighters I have worked with. I would lend that .125” is pretty good stuff for scuff panels, but not load bearing surfaces.

    Shelves- Again, .125”. Pretty light stuff when compared to the cost of going 3/16” or .188” thickness.

    SCBA compts- No rubbers seals to keep out water and dust.

    Pump Panels- These are bolted, not hinged, making service more difficult, verses spending the money for hinged gauge and service doors.

    Crosslays- Painted finish. ICK! These scratch and mar when pulling crosslays. Brushed finishes or truck bed style lining materials (Rhino coat) offer more wear resistance.

    Rub Rails- None. Merely a piece of t/p used for esthetic purposes only.

    Limited generator and lighting options.

    Like other comments in the post insinuate, "the Pierce" has gotten a bit “pricey” of late. Units purchased around or near me, reflect the same is true with the Contender, dependant on options. I might suggest that if you go to bid on an open spec writing basic requirements and seek multiple bids, it could be enlightening to see where all the manufacturers shake out. Write a proprietary spec and the guy who wrote the spec will more than likely win every time, so write open performance specs on this type of truck, its not hard to do, verses writing something that scares people away with fancy wording written by an engineer, liability limits that are ridiculous, whizzy wording that means nothing…yada yada. After all, you are buying a pretty straightforward unit here and a Hale pump is a Hale pump and a plastic water tank is a plastic water tank, if you require warranties to be supplied that are identical.

    NICEties of the Contender that I see in the published data:

    Nice deep 26” compts

    Stainless steel plumbing!

    ¼ turn ball style bleeders and drains IPO of push pull style

    Option for S/S torrent valves if you buy a Hale pump.

    Nice array of foam systems available.

    Curious about the options available?

    Go Here, look your self:

    http://www.contenderbypierce.com/spe..._M2_pumper.cfm

    You can do the same with most manufacturers. Call them or go to their web sites for the option lists.

    While I might agree that “it is a Pierce” by association, I would further lend that there is a very specific reason the separate this product with the BRAND NAME “Contender”. They do not want it to be confused with a “Pierce”. If you look, it is a separate brand, advertised as such, as to not make people think they are getting the ”Pierce” they have always known. Does that mean it is inferior? No, but it means that it is not a “Pierce” and marketed that way for a reason. I would lend the same about the “Seagrave”. In some cases, there are marketing smoke and mirrors methods being utilized here. The “Seagrave” I just looked at is built in Canada (Almonte Fire Trucks – and is marketed under the name “Seagrave Fire Apparatus Company”) and is NOTHING like a “Seagrave” of Wisconsin! The only real similarities were that it had a pump, tank and that nice script Seagrave logo! I simply believe that the products must be sold for what they are, with NO misconceptions of brand, manufacturing location and end product. Worse yet, the departments unit I looked at from “Seagrave”, it was never told that the unit would not be built in Wisconsin as they expected it to be. Only upon notification that there unit was ready for inspection and delivery, did they find out it was being built in Canada! YIKES. Manufacturers should not lie, mislead and use smoke and mirrors, PERIOD! So, does that mean the Seagrave is no good? NO again. It merely means, it should be up front, honest and forthright as to what is being sold and delivered. Personally, It’s all about “expectation” in my eyes.

    ALL major builders offer this “Program” style unit. I found that to be true with Seagrave “Fire Apparatus Company”, Crimson- “E” Series, E-One- “Tradition”, Rosenbauer- “Firestar”, American LaFrance- “L-Class”, Smeal- “Volunteer”…yada yada yada…. All offer them and each is trying to find ways to be the low price leader, while still making money to satisfy their owners or shareholders. It is certainly a price war deal. The bottom line is, there is less truck for the dollar, but that does not mean it won’t suffice for 75% of the nations rural departments that run the usual 100-500 calls per year. BUT do not confuse these products with the companies “custom” or “brand name” products. Its kind of funny though, you ask the average fire truck sales guy what makes his program truck so much better than the other guys and they kind of draw a blank….as there is not much to sell on other than price! That all changes when you are purchasing “custom”…. So, my belief? The “Contender” is a sound product, but do not confuse it with what you can buy from “Pierce”, or others same applicable custom built models. Further I would add that Pierce is a reputable company and I think peoples comments about Pierce standing behind it is a good general observation. In my own opinion, this would be true of all the legitimate builders in the top 5. I think the marginal materials and negative portions of what I have found could be true, if I were to evaluate ANY “Program” unit, so I think its fair to say that ALL could be picked apart, regardless of brand name. So, do your homework and look hard. Do not just roll over and say: “Well, it’s a cookie cutter and we do not have the money, so we really do not have a choice”…..YES YOU DO! Go look and investigate. Watch out for the infamous…wolf in sheep’s clothing!

    Some others that I found:

    http://www.americanlafrance.com/Prod...mpers/L3Class/

    http://www.smeal.com/apparatusitem.a...pparatus&aid=9

    http://www.rosenbaueramerica.com/App...mper/Index.cfm

    http://www.kovatch.com/Default.aspx?tabid=83

    http://www.traditionseries.com/home.asp


    Good Luck and stay safe!

    GUY

    PS- To Dave1983- NEVER SAY NEVER ABOUT ANY BUILDER GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! Many said that about ALF back in their hay-days of the 60’ 70’s and 80’s when they were #1 also…At that time ALF seemed almost invincible and was merely “taking orders”…I firmly feel that ANYONE can go out of business with the correct miss-management or managers that do not fully understand the fire truck business as a whole!

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    Did we just witness the return of FireFish?

    Fess up FYRTRUCKGUY2, I bet you have an uncontrollable urge to add
    "good fishing" to your sig line.

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    *takes out a fishing rod*

    Here fishy fishy fishy fishy.

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