Brotherhood Built: Behind The Scenes At Firepunk Diesel

In any industry, you will have your local ma-and-pop style companies, but you’ll also have the elite companies that are known across the entire country. Becoming a top-dog company, it doesn’t come easy. It takes years of hard work, dispensing quality parts, and above all, quality customer service. That is exactly what the team at Firepunk Diesel does and continues to do.

Compared to what they had from the beginning, they have come a long way. Now, as a fast growing company, their shop is constantly full of work.

The face of Firepunk Diesel, Lavon Miller, has a team of dedicated people that have helped to get the company from a small organization to a top-tier shop inside the growing diesel performance industry. Firepunk Diesel can do anything from mild to wild.

What Started It All

It’s a safe assumption that the Firepunk Diesel crew is known mostly for their repairs to the Dodge automatic transmissions. They have manufactured their own replacements that address all of the common failure areas of the factory units. With a glowing, gold finish, they have earned the name “Golden Nugget.”

Every Golden Nugget that’s pumped out of the Plain City, Ohio, shop addresses common fail points, but also adds the capability for extreme power handling and comes with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty. The 48RE transmissions is offered from Tow Master transmissions all the way to a Comp-3 trans for the most powerful builds.

It all started with fixing and rebuilding transmissions.

After the great success entering the transmission industry, the team at Firepunk decided to broaden their horizons and dip into a few different things. Engine building, compound turbo plumbing, custom tuning, custom fabrication, and an in-house chassis dyno to name a few. Living by their motto, “We race what we build,” they also have a few toys of their own.

The name Firepunk was forged before the actual business was actually formed. “Firepunk was actually just an online website used to host our pictures, videos, truck builds, and racing events we went to back in 2004,” Lavon said. “We all had full-time jobs and hot rodding diesel trucks was only just a hobby.” There were 10 people in the group that regularly helped each other with different projects.

“During that period of ten regulars, we fabricated our first twin turbo setup,” Lavon continued. “We changed head gaskets, fabricated ladder bars, exhausts systems, and custom hitches.” Since the majority of the crowd grew up on a farm, they all had access to tools and welders from a young age which made things pretty convenient with their name starting to get around.

“We did that for five years and earned a good range of experience in fixing our own problems on all our trucks,” Lavon explained. “Us as a group quickly became known as the ‘Firepunk Kids’ because we would show up at the drag strip with five to 10 trucks on a Friday night with a sticker and would all run 12-14 second quarter-mile times.” Back in the 2005-2009 era, a 12-second diesel truck was super fast.

Their transmission repair and building area is filled with guys who are passionate about performing thorough work.

“The transmission were one thing we hired outside help to do,” Lavon said. “We bought from DTT, Goerend Transmission, and TRE Diesel, and all of us learned the hard way that you can’t have 600 horsepower, beat on the truck every day and expect it to live.”

Luckily for Lavon, Tim Barber coached him through transmission repairs along the way and eventually put together a master kit for a transmission. Lavon would then rebuild and assemble these transmissions with the parts that were provided, via Barber. “I had no intention of turning into a business,” Lavon said. “It was just my rainy day weekend hobby work.”

It's a wonder that these guys have free time with the load up transmissions that need repaired coming in. Firepunk is known to put their customers first and take care of their supporters even on race day.

Working full time in the decorative concrete business, Miller was brought into a dilemma. By fall of 2009, he had made so many friends and referrals that they all continued to bring their trucks in for repairs and transmission rebuilds that it was time a decision was made. Everyday job or trust your weekend hobby that you love. Since the name had already branded itself into the industry, the business started as Firepunk Diesel.

Firepunk Diesel As We Know It Today

In the beginning, Lavon was heading into this business by himself. He often encountered customers that would drive in the night before and be at the shop early for a transmission rebuild. As a one-man show, those 10-12 hour days kept going by and the hunt for help was on. “Good word that I was capable of doing a one-day turn around on a rebuild spread fast,” Lavon explained. “It spread so fast that within six months I was scheduled out so far I had to have my brother, Lyn, come help for the week.”

They test the claimed "700 horsepower" setups built in-house with the dyno to verify for the customer that the build does, in fact, make that horsepower.

As help was now readily available, the boys took on more and more jobs. Head gaskets, turbo installations, and even dipped into engine builds. Like the transmissions, the word spread of the quality work these boys performed and the work just kept coming. “Within a year, there were four of us working full-time,” Lavon said. “We were at max capacity working out of a few small buildings on a retired dairy farm.”

2013 was the year that Firepunk Diesel really skyrocketed. They moved to their new and current location of 11,000 square feet. With all this extra room, they actually had room to work. “We were able to hire more help and start to fill out the new shop,” Lavon said. “By mid-2014, we had 13 people employed and we have been able to keep everyone busy on a daily basis since.”

As you can see, they're working on a customers Pro Mod project that will be competition in 2018.

Like anything else, once you get settled in, you begin to personalize it. Dipping into another industry of its own, they then bought a chassis dyno and started offering custom tuning. In 2017 alone they did over 2,500 dyno pulls. “Custom tuning keeps me personally very busy,” Lavon continued. “We schedule two dyno tunes a day from Tuesday to Friday, along with dyno tuning the builds we do in-house.”

They pump out two to four transmissions a day, thanks to the four full-time guys in the transmission assembly room. “With the volume of transmissions entering and exiting our facility, its a full-time job for the office,” Lavon explained. “Parts, orders, shipping, and quality control is a job in itself.”

Three two-post lifts and three full-time techs stay busy with the everyday clients. These technicians perform the general service, repairs, transmission R&R, engines, head gaskets, and fuel injector installs.

Although initially, Lyn was only temporary help for a week, it’s safe to say that Lyn has found his spot in the shop permanently. Lyn is in charge of all things fabrication. “Welding up roll bars, roll cages, full tube chassis, and also fabricates our twin and triple turbo kits,” Lavon said. “Lyn takes care of a lot of the high-performance projects that run through the shop in need of fabrication.”

“We still regularly get long distance customers that come in for a ‘one-day’ transmission build,” Lavon said. Most prefer this because they can see the operation, see what goes into their build and it also gives Firepunk an opportunity to educate the customer on the do’s and don’ts of a high-performance transmission.

The Future Of Firepunk Diesel

Lavon credit’s the nationwide customer base from the success of competitions. Lavon has won two Diesel Power Challenge event’s in 2014 and 2015 and then went on to win the Ultimate Callout Challenge in 2016 and 2017.  Their personal builds are the marketing platform for the business. When people are scanning through social media and see trucks winning and performing well, they want their truck to do the same. Hence the sea of working flowing into Ohio.

“Just in the past week, we’ve had trucks at our shop from Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, California, Texas, and Wisconsin,” Lavon said.

Bottom line, Firepunk Diesel has become a Dodge/Cummins specialty shop. They strive on doing excellent work and treating every vehicle like it’s our own. A shop filled with diesel performance enthusiasts has really helped them all learn as they all drive and race their own Cummins-powered trucks. With that crucial first-hand experience, it’s easy for them to relate to the customer’s scenarios when they have questions.

For more information about Firepunk Diesel and what they can do for you, check out their website or give them a call.

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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