Custom champs: 'Eighth house truck' for Rick and Terry Henderson, a 144-inch ARI bunk

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Updated Dec 22, 2022

Owner-operators Rick and Terry Henderson call Rittman, Ohio, home. Yet the creature comforts in what Terry notes is the "eighth house truck" they've operated, their 2022 Peterbilt 389 with a 144-inch ARI big bunk, bring home to the road, where they haul arms, ammunition and explosives (AA&E) freight for the military, leased to Bennett. "This will be our pathway to retirement," Terry said of what's well-known as a lucrative freight niche, which the pair first got into in 2020 leased to a different company.

Yet she could also easily be talking about the new build. There's another truck in their tentative plan as it stands now, but "I don't know how you top this one," Terry said, a sentiment expressed by Rick as well. 

She's a looker inside and out, no doubt.

Hendersons' 2022 Peterbilt with the USS Constitution at Boston HarborThe 2022 Peterbilt 389 is here pictured with the USS Constitution at Boston Harbor.

ARI sleeper interior, view toward the backThe layout for the ARI sleeper is rear door, front shower, with the pull-down bed/dinette set up on the driver side toward the back.

Kitchen in the sleeperTerry worked with ARI to oversee the interior finishes from bottom to top, all the way to crown molding above the kitchen cabinets. "I drew the picture and [ARI builder] Brandon Sturgis made it happen," Terry said.The truck is a big winner this year in Overdrive's virtual Pride & Polish truck show, where it bagged a first in the Interior class and first runner-up in its working bobtail class.

The Hendersons met for the first time "on a CB in a traffic jam," Terry said. She was a Schneider company driver. Rick was hauling yachts, among other freight, and since they got married in 2009, "we’ve been teaming," Terry said. They bought their first truck in 2011 after working through past credit issues to finance the purchase. When they got married "we had horrible credit -- we were like two train wrecks that came together." 

They've come a long way since, hauling pharmaceuticals for years before getting their feet wet with military AA&E at FedEx. Their first such load, Terry recalled, was one she can't talk directly about with specificity but which gave her pause, knowing what was in the trailer. "Rick, can this thing blow?" she remembers asking. 

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Rick and Terry HendersonRick and Terry HendersonSaid Rick, "A plus B equals Boom. A and B are never packaged together." 

The 344-inch-wheelbase 2022 389 replaces a 2020 plain-wrapper white Pete with a black frame that they made a lot of money with, particularly after getting military clearance for AA&E, Terry said. So much, in fact, that in 2021, consulting with their tax advisor at business services firm ATBS, they were told to plan on handing an extra $40K-$50K to the IRS with the income jump. The Hendersons didn't have a mortgage to write off, and Terry didn't feel "disciplined enough to be sitting on a bank account with $50,000 in it." 

She turned to Rick and said, "We need to build a truck." Hence this 2022's name, which will be emblazoned on the back of the sleeper eventually: "Tax Write-Off." 

2022 Peterbilt 389, view from driver side rearThe view from the rear as it sits now, featuring a custom scalloped design in a nod to the old school.

They got a build slot working through TLG Peterbilt in St. Louis, Missouri, essentially duplicating their prior 2020 build specs, with a 20,000-lb. front axle, 565-hp Cummins engine and an 18-speed transmission, with the fifth wheel spec about the extent of Rick's input, Terry said. This tax write-off would be her creation. 

"Rick’s plain-wrapper," Terry said. "He loves the old-school -- we’ve never had a stripe on anything." Until now. 

Peterbilt purple and aqua stripesFor the colors on the very expensive piece of equipment, Terry took inspiration from an $8 shower curtain at home "with two shades of gray and white, and a bit of aqua in it," she said. The three-lower-stripe pattern shown here in detail on the hood is repeated near the back of the sleeper in mirror image, above the main stripe.There were many, many steps toward realizing the final vision.   

The 2022 Peterbilt before the sleeper was addedThe base paint on the cab is called North Sea gray -- she picked an aqua metallic for the frame. "I’m all about the Caribbean waters -- to remind Rick when he’s fueling why I’m here, those long vacations," she joked. Today, the team runs three weeks on, then a week off, typically.

The rig's transformation from the factory began with Brandon Sturgis and the team at ARI in Indiana with partners in Nationwide Chrome in Fremont -- who supplied lights, chrome accessories, hydraulic lift front 22-inch bumper, and much more -- and CRS Custom in Osceola for the painted tanks, breathers and other work. "We created a triangle," Terry said, as the three shops forged new partnerships. 

2022 Peterbilt 389"We call it the 'Bermuda triangle'," Terry added, the only parts of the ultimate build sourced outside the triangle being the fenders, ordered directly from Talladega Fiberglass, and the triple-diamond grille from Iowa 80 by Iowa Customs. The Hendersons also invested in a full-rig ceramic protective coating to reduce wax-and-polish maintenance necessary -- that work was done by CarGuys Auto Detailing.

Triple-diamond design on the cab roofThe triple-diamond design is repeated in the interior on the cab's roof, likewise on door panels.

In some ways, Rick's old-school tendencies when it comes to truck design led to myriad small battles he ultimately lost, yet Terry notes that for all his protestations, he got part of what he wanted, too, in dressing up the Pete. 

As Terry told ARI's Brandon Sturgis one day when discussing lights, "Rick wants a light between every light," she said.

Purple underglow lightsBoy did he get that, down to purple underglow and running lights from Dual Revolution that switch to ...

Amber underlow... amber and/or red.

All light lenses, Terry noted, are smoked, and sourced through Nationwide Chrome.  

The newly connected three points of the Bermuda Triangle (CRS, ARI, Nationwide Chrome), meanwhile, "have five to six projects going on" as business relationships were cemented during Tax Write-Off's build, which wrapped up early this year, Terry said.

Here's a big congrats to all on a job well-done.  

Rick and Terry with Dominic Medlin and Brandon SturgisThe team, from left: Dominic Medlin of CRS, Rick and Terry Henderson, and ARI's Brandon Sturgis. Not pictured is Pete Felkner of Nationwide Chrome, the third point in the triangle. For more about the build, visit the Youtube channel of Kuenn McClinton and the "Elegance on 18 Wheels" video profile series, via this link.

[Related: Custom champs: Classic Mack B61 helping revive longtime trucker ministry]

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