More than any other segment of the market, pickup trucks have improved drastically over the years. Originally designed with only function in mind, pickups were hard-riding, ill-handling vehicles that were as drafty as they were devoid of creature comforts.

A change occurred in the industry around the '50s, with truck manufacturers developing a sense of style and incorporating comfort and entertainment options previously only found in cars. As a result, today's buyers can enjoy their hard-working trucks in plush leather seats with interiors that are overflowing with modern technology. At the end of the assembly line, where the aftermarket begins, drivers can take it a step further, personalizing their rides even more. That was the approach used by John Martel, owner of All American Welding in West Palm Beach, Florida.

John needed a truck for work but was unwilling to sacrifice comfort or modern electronics. His weekend truck is a Ford F-350 King Ranch, and it's easy to get used to that level of luxury. When it came to his work truck, the SLT package on his '08 GMC was not that far behind—a vital consideration when you spend long hours behind the wheel and rack up 40,000 miles a year. Lots of factory items were already in place, from heated seats to the sunroof, making the GMC fun to drive. But aftermarket electronic upgrades took it to the next level, beginning with the Pioneer AVIC-Z1 double-DIN navigation and multimedia receiver. It's a powerhouse that features a 10GB music library, NAV with traffic alerts, voice-recognition software, rearview camera, engine management info, and Bluetooth for easy connectivity. In addition to all its other capabilities, the head unit controls a pair of Pioneer amps that energize 6-inch Pioneer component sets in the four factory door locations. Bass comes from a pair of 10-inch Pioneer subs mounted under the rear bench seat. The 7-inch monitor up front and the drop-down, 12-inch screen in the overhead console round out this audiovisual extravaganza. Icing on the cake, however, is the iPad in the center console. It's the perfect business tool to keep in touch with email, scan the Internet, and receive blueprints at the job site. Monster Cable made all the connections and Dynamat guaranteed peace and quiet inside.

Outside, the GMC keeps its stock suspension, but there is a leveling kit installed up front. The rolling office runs 17-inch Rockstar HD rims for a touch of class and 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers for go-anywhere traction. To create some additional horsepower and torque for pulling heavy loads, John turned to Adam Pela of Pela Motorsports in Jupiter, Florida. One of the top tuners in the Southeast, Adam decided the factory turbo and injectors on the 6.6L Duramax were up to the task, but he improved free breathing by incorporating an AFE Stage II intake and a high-flow, 5-inch, turbo-back exhaust system. The increased fuel supply was addressed with an AirDog II 165-gph fuel delivery system while the EFILive custom DSP-5 tune provided five power choices to make the most of the engine's potential. At the touch of a button, there are shift-on-the-fly programs for towing that include an exhaust brake feature to handle the heavy loads as well as programs for mileage when empty and high performance at the track. To ensure the Allison six-speed transmission could handle the extra power, it was upgraded with a TransGo Jr. shift kit. John notes with a smile that the 8,800-pound truck goes through the quarter-mile in 14.53 seconds, so the changes were obviously effective! Having a ride that is cool, comfortable, and capable, however, is only half the solution.

As every successful businessman knows, you have to have everything you need close at hand when you're on the job and miles from home. John's business involves structural steel products for both residential and commercial properties. Creating columns, I-beams, and trusses demands the full gamut of welding capabilities, so to accomplish the task, John fabricated his own gooseneck trailer, building it from scratch and tailoring it precisely to his needs. With everything from raw structural steel stock to ladders, tools, and multiple welding options on board, the heavy-duty truck and trailer combination allows him to accomplish any task and reach virtually any job site. Better than that, he arrives in style and is still comfortable at the end of a long day. What more can anyone ask from a work truck?

John would like to dedicate his custom work truck to the memory of his former business partner who passed away, Jim Saville Jr. GBNF. Special thanks to S&D Construction for use of its work site as a photo location.