High Performance Diesel Engines
When you hear Pittsburgh Power what comes to mind? Is it our service shop? Our ECM tunes? Our engine rebuilds? We recently realized we actually have 8 different businesses all wrapped up in one. We are first and foremost a diesel repair shop, but we’re also an engineering and tuning shop, a manufacturer, a bottling company, a parts distributor, a brick and mortar retailer, a phone retailer, and an online retailer. Many businesses exist that are just one of these things, but we do it all. This year we’ve been in business for 43 years and wanted to take the opportunity to reflect back and figure out how we got here.
The service shop was the original business. In 1977 I was given a small shop in Lawrenceville, an old neighborhood just north of downtown Pittsburgh. Today it’s a trendy area with breweries and restaurants, but back then it was just a cheap place to live and work. The shop was so small you couldn’t actually fit a truck inside and so I worked on the trucks outside, even in the freezing winters. In 1979 I was able to rent a building with a garage in Harmar, PA. We taught ourselves as we went, looking at each new customer request as a challenge. We worked on all sorts of things, even tractors, until we honed in on what we were best at, which is high performance diesel truck engines. Early on I hired a few young folks to work for me, Brian (our shop foreman), Pete (general manager), Pat (still rebuilding injectors and fuel pumps for us), Gary (who still helps with our IT) and Aimee who works in the office. The five of them and I have built this business together over the last four decades. We gained a reputation as the place to go for high performance diesel engines, especially with Cummins due to my connection with Cummins engineers. In 2007 we moved into our new location, a building built from scratch to suit our needs and has allowed us to grow all the other parts of our business. Today we’re working on all sorts of engines, but still remain the go-to shop for Big Cam Cummins parts and service.
Our Engineering Department was created out of demand from our customers. As trucks became less mechanical and more electronic, very few other shops were able to understand and fix the complex problems these new trucks had. In addition, these new electronically controlled engines offered tuning capabilities the old mechanical engines didn’t. Instead of changing the button in a fuel pump, it just takes a few computer clicks to adjust a torque curve. We saw how valuable this could be and decided to add a full chassis dyno and engine dyno to our building, as well as an engineering room for repairing ECMs and other small electronics. It’s surprising how many shops still aren’t able to diagnose and fix electrical issues. We heard from a customer on our radio show recently who had a broken cruise control and had been to three other shops who charged him labor but couldn't fix the problem. Ethan was able to diagnose and fix the problem in less than an hour and the customer was happy and on his way. Very recently we’ve been working with one of the world’s most experienced engine tuners to expand our tuning program. We’re now ready to start tuning Paccar, Volvo, and Mack engines. Our new advanced software will allow us much greater tuning capability to meet the needs owner-operators everywhere. Give us a call if you’d like more information on our new tuning capabilities.
Many of the products we’ve developed and manufactured were because we either were not satisfied with the available products, or we saw a need for something new. Pete designed our best-selling quiet performance muffler that continues to be a customer favorite. There are many other products we developed along the way from the Power Box, the oil trap, our torsional damper, mercury filled balancer, and more. We’re constantly looking for new products that will help the owner-operator, whether it’s making his or her truck more efficient, more reliable, or more enjoyable.
One of the successful products we’ve brought to market is Max Mileage Fuel Borne Catalyst. It’s one of the best solutions available for those who have had issues with their aftertreatment systems. We underestimated the need for this product at the beginning and had trouble keeping enough inventory. The only solution was to bottle it ourselves. We really didn't know anything about bottling and didn’t realize how much goes into it. But with some help we got it figured out and now we can easily keep up with demand. Most companies would probably contract someone to bottle for them, but not us.
We’re also a parts distributor and have a vast network of dealers for both ECM tuning and parts. We have roughly 70 affiliated partner shops around the country and Canada that either are a remote tuner, catalyst dealer, parts dealer, or all of the above. Our shipping department is quite an intensive operation, handling drop shipments, freight shipments, online orders, and receiving parts and equipment for the service shop.
Our sales operation takes three forms, phone, in-store, and online. We’ve seen massive online sales growth within the last year as more owner-operators see the advantage to ordering 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection. Even so, the majority of customers still prefer to call in and appreciate the knowledge and helpfulness of our sales team. Our over the counter parts sales are appreciated by many local diesel shops who take advantage of our vast inventory in parts. Our sales business has allowed us to serve owner-operators globally, selling parts from the U.K. to Australia.
We are grateful for all of our stakeholders including our partner businesses, our employees, and especially our customers. If you would like to keep updated on what we’re up to, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, visit our website PittsburghPower.com, or listen to the Power Hour radio show on SIrius/XM 146 every Tuesday from 12-2 EST. If you are visiting the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, come see us at Booth #69212.
Written by Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson, Pittsburgh Power Inc.,
3600 South Noah Dr., Saxonburg, Pa. 16056.
Trade show, late 1980’s
Bruce Mallinson (right) showing a Big Cam display engine at a trade show
Twin Turbo NTC at a Trade show late 1980’s
Trade show with Marmon trucks