When Ohio native Dick Chernick began his working life as a supermarket manager at the age of 23, he could never have suspected in what direction his life would turn. While he seemed to enjoy his job, a series of events made him frustrated enough to turn in his keys and walk away. But that walk was a twist of fate that led him to a career in the truckstop business and eventually hooked him up with Bill Moon.
In the early 1970s, Chernick began working for Truckomat in South Holland, Illinois, on the south side of Chicago. Shortly after, or so the story goes, Bill Moon told Chernick about a state certified scale in Joliet, just down the road. The idea of building a certified scale at the Truckomat seemed like a great idea for business, but the cost was high. Building a scale with one platform for weighing had been the standard until that time. But Chernick wanted to try something new: having three scales under the platform so truckers wouldn’t have to continually move their rigs to get an accurate weight. They decided to give it a go.
After a year or so of the scale doing well, Chernick said he got the idea of guaranteeing the weight and either paying the fine or going to court with drivers to defend them if the reading didn’t hold true. Carroll Feurbach, president said he was out of his mind to make such a guarantee, and Chernick said that Moon told him to try. He also told him that if it lost, he’d have to pay the fine out of his own pocket. Chernick agreed, and it was on. In 1977, the South Holland Truckomat posted a sign stating they would guarantee their scale.
Some time later, a thunderstorm came through and wreaked havoc with the scale and Chernick got a call to let him know the reading was off. But not before a driver had already gone through. They shut the scale down until it could be recalibrated and about 30 minutes later, Chernick got a call from the driver at the state scale at Joliet. Chernick paid the fine. But what might sound like a bum deal turned into something pretty great.
“That driver got on the CB and told everybody up and down the interstate about what happened and how we paid his fine. He also told everybody to weigh at the South Holland Truckomat. We had trucks all over the place. Having to pay that fine turned out to be the best thing that ever happened.”
After that, Moon decided that all the scales would guarantee their weight, and the Certified Automated Truck, or CAT Scale, was in business and is still going strong 40 years later.