Owner-Operator of the Month
Jeff Ledbetter’s self-reliance and creativity have made him a go-to guy for rookies at Hogan Transport.
Jeff Ledbetter’s first load followed in his father’s tracks – all 725 miles of them from Michigan to New Jersey.
“My dad put me in a truck and said, ‘Follow me and do what I do,’ ” Ledbetter says of that haul 29 years ago.
That lesson, like many others from his father, contributed to Ledbetter’s success. He is now a role model to younger drivers at Hogan Transport Inc., where he is leased for dedicated runs with Target Corp.
Now 50, Ledbetter will celebrate his 30th year in trucking and more than 1.3 million accident-free miles in July.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., resident benefited in his early years from his family’s legacy. His father, J.C., was trucking for more than 50 years, including 20 when Ledbetters’ parents were agents for different trucking companies. His older brother, Dudley, has his own authority.
“I’ve been around trucks all my life,” Ledbetter says. “It just seemed like a natural fit. I knew how to drive a truck before I could a car.”
Ledbetter purchased his first truck, a 1977 Freightliner cabover, in 1982 and has owned nine trucks in his career, mostly Peterbilts. In 1988, he started hauling paper goods and produce under his own authority, and his company grew quickly to a 10-truck fleet.
After his father died in 1996, Ledbetter says he lost interest in trucking and pursued other interests working for two concrete companies, driving for one and managing the supply yard for the other. But in 2003, he returned to the job he says he was meant to do.
“You grow up in it and it kind of gets in your blood,” he says. “It doesn’t ever really go away.”
Each year with Hogan, Ledbetter has received a safe driver award, getting only one speeding ticket 25 years ago.