Ryan and Julie LaLone, the husband and wife team behind Diesel Freak, had no idea they would become involved in all of these business lines when they started the company in 2002.
In addition to this eclectic collection of merchandise, you can also fix a semi-truck that is acting up or purchase a Bobcat product like a loader or excavator.
In 2006, the LaLones sold the milk trucks and focused on truck repairs.
In the beginning, they focused on hauling milk and then started up a service garage for their own trucks before branching out to servicing trucks owned by others.
It all started when LaLone imported a dynamometer, or dyno, from Italy. It’s a device for measuring mechanical force, or power, transmitted by a rotating shaft.
“We are not the average truck repair garage,” Ryan LaLone said. “We do trouble shooting for issues that others seem to have a hard time finding.”
LaLone and his staff use dyno diagnostics to help diesel trucks deliver peak performance. The dyno allows “us to run a truck inside the building that simulates as if the truck were on the road,” LaLone said.
Recently, they had a truck that developed a vibration problem when it reached a speed of about 45 miles per hour (mph). “At 43 (mph) we saw that the driveshaft was starting to move. So we rebalanced the driveshaft.”
All of these businesses are now growing and forcing the LaLones to seek a new building. They have broken ground on a facility on M-32 West next to the cinema complex. They purchased the 32-acre site to build at least two new buildings that they hope will be completed by next May.
“The main building will be 42,000 square feet and a smaller building behind it will be about 8,000 square feet,” LaLone said. “We will have over 50,000 square feet compared to about 23,000 square feet that we have now in our buildings (on Milbocker Road).” The smaller building in the back will house the diesel repair operations. LaLone said dyno testing can get loud and it needs to be isolated.
The main building will house the clothing and graphics operations. “Right now we have 23 employees but we will probably expand to 40 once the building is completed,” he said.
“It’s a great community. We raised two children here and the school system is excellent,” said LaLone, who grew up on a farm in Rosebush in Isabella County. “The people are friendly and we just like Northern Michigan and all it has to offer.” They like it so much that even when other communities like Grayling offered incentive packages to relocate, LaLone said they chose to stay here.
The LaLones have grown fond of Gaylord and Otsego County. The two buildings will cost about $5.6 million, LaLone said.