For a man who owns and operates a successful burger restaurant that is well off the beaten path, his 6.7L Cummins makes up the difference by being a real attention-getter that is always the center of a crowd. In 1993, Jud Niederer and his wife Irene took an old abandoned gas station and created a local hot spot called Big Jud’s Burgers. Over 20 years later, Big Jud’s is as popular as ever and continues to draw crowds to this must-stop local attraction that over the years has received national attention as well.
The custom paint job is only the beginning, as Jud has used his resources to build an extremely unique 2008 Dodge that is loaded with an impressive collection of aftermarket products. His diesel is constantly being upgraded, but the first thing Jud did after purchasing his truck new in 2008 was take it to his friend Brooke Passey who is a commercial artist based nearby. Artworx By Brooke is a mobile business covering southeast Idaho, and the owner specializes in pin striping, truck lettering, custom painting and specialized signage. Jud has worked with Brooke for years; in fact, he painted the Big Jud’s logo that is on display outside the restaurant so he knew his truck was in good hands. The custom paint job for his truck included flames and vibrant colors as well as a Big Jud’s logo.
Using His Connections“This is my daily driver and I like wild and crazy paint jobs; it fits my personality,” says Jud. “It’s a good advertiser for Big Jud’s too because it tends to attract a lot of attention. I like that it sticks out in a crowd and that it’s completely different from other trucks. I go all over the country to diesel events and I see a lot of nice trucks, but nothing like this. I like to be unique.”
Jud is a regional sales manager at Premier Performance Products, a diesel performance distributing company based in Rexburg, Idaho. The truck owner has been with the company nearly 10 years now and through his connections, he has been able to experiment and try out a lot of different products. Simply put, his truck is always changing and improving as new products are released.
“I’ve gone through three different lifts, three different sets of wheels and I’ve gone through a bunch of tuners,” says Jud. “I currently have an H&S tuner on it and it’s been a good fit for my Cummins. I’ve been able to try a lot of things because of the opportunities available to me.”
Through his connections at Premier, he’s also done a lot of beta testing for the industry.
“TITAN Fuel Tanks used my truck to build the first prototype for Mega Cabs years ago and having that extra 55 gallons is great,” says Jud. “They had my truck in their shop for awhile as they measured and developed this tank that I’m still using today.”
A High Tech Stainless Turbo is another product he originally beta tested that is still running strong. Because it spools quickly and still runs well, he’s not looking to swap it out anytime soon.
The exhaust has gone through a couple of transitions over the years and has evolved from the original Diamond Eye exhaust that he originally added. Today the truck includes an MBRP stack, complete with a stainless Big Jud’s logo. A custom-made Access Lorado cover was developed to work around the bed stack. Inside the bed is a custom-made heat shield around the exhaust that allows Jud to still be able to use the back of his truck to haul supplies and with his BedRug liner he can haul just about anything. Also in the bed of the truck is the reservoir for the Snow Performance water/meth injection system that has helped his fuel economy, while also keeping his engine temperatures down when he’s towing.
Big Jud’s Burgers
The founder and owner of Big Jud’s is still involved with the business, but his full-time job is at Premier. However, the next generation has stepped up as each of Jud and Irene’s four children currently work at Big Jud’s.
“I work at Big Jud’s as needed. I’m not on the schedule, but I go in when they need extra help,” says Jud. “I haven’t changed the menu a lot over the years; for the most part it’s stayed the same. Because of our location we needed to make sure the product was good to keep people coming back. You can only sell so many big burgers as a novelty, eventually people have to come back because they like the food and it seems to be working for us.”
The one-pound burger that is part of the Big Jud Challenge has been a local favorite, but thanks to some national exposure, the restaurant is getting more and more popular. The show Man V. Food on the Travel Channel has given a national spotlight on Big Jud’s and the network continues to give them added attention.
“We got a lot of mileage out of that,” says Jud. “The Travel Channel has included footage on four or five of its other shows. People still come just because they saw us on Man V. Food.
Building On Greatness
As his business has continued to grow, so has his desire to improve his truck. Jud added a leveling kit awhile back, but recently decided to give it a raise by adding a Pro Comp lift with MaxTrac spacers in the front for a total 8-inch lift. After increasing the truck’s height, he was able to justify the need for AMP Research electric running boards from that automatically drop down when the doors open, giving him and his passengers easy access to the cab. At the time of the lift, he also added Fox shocks, which give the truck a smooth ride.
“I don’t have plans to go any taller,” says Jud with a smile. “It rides better than stock after adding the Pro Comp lift with the Fox shocks. I just love how it rides now.”
After years of searching for the right wheel to complete the look of his truck, Jud is thrilled with his decision to go with the 22 by 12 wheels from American Force Wheels. The nearly all-black design flows well with the Toyo tires, giving Jud the look he wants.
“I’ve had a hard time finding the right wheel to perfectly match this truck, but I think I’ve finally found what I’ve been searching for with these wheels from American Force,” says Jud.
Over the years Jud has added key upgrades like a Fuelabs pump, aFe intake, MAG-HYTEC rear diff cover, Curt Manufacturing turnover hitch and Pacbrake airbags. These are those little added touches that make a huge difference to a daily driver truck, but don’t always get the same recognition as other performance upgrades.
Made To Be Noticed
The custom paint along with the lift aren’t the only things that make this truck stand out; the Fusion bumpers with Rigid lights—along with Anzo headlights—complement the front of the truck that also includes a RBP grille and a second stainless etched Big Jud’s logo.
“I like the look of the Fusion bumpers. They look awesome,” says Jud. “I really like the overall feel of the front.”
The majority of the work has been completed by Cam Hulse and his crew at Adrenaline Performance in Shelley, Idaho.
“Cam is awesome, he does such great work and he does a lot of installs for the guys I work with at Premier,” says Jud. “He’s a great mechanic and he always gets us in and takes good care of us.”
Future plans call for a new transmission since his current one has started to slip a little. Jud has stayed away from doing a lot of the high horsepower upgrades because of his stock transmission, but after this next upgrade he says he’ll be ready to take his Cummins to the next level.
“I will probably go with a 48RE instead of a 68RFE on the transmission so if I want a solid 750hp daily driver I can and I know it will hold up,” says the truck owner. “I’d like to add higher horsepower upgrades after that. I love my truck and so I don’t mind investing in it. I like how it rides and I don’t ever see myself getting rid of it so I might as well make it as nice as I can.”
Jud’s Dodge Mega Cab is sure to continue to attract a lot of attention as well as remind those who see it traveling down the road that if you’re ever in southeast Idaho, there’s a great a burger place that is worth the stop.
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