Owner-Operator of the Month

Overdrive Staff | February 01, 2012

Dreama, whom Donnie met at Mason and Dixon in 1993 when she worked as a dispatcher, says her husband’s time and care put into the rebuild are the same traits he’s used to build his one-truck operation.

“It’s a profession for him, and he acts the part,” she says. “He’s been successful because he takes it seriously and makes sure when he accepts a load that he does exactly what he says he’s going to do.”

Wally Schnellenburger, a load agent for Mason and Dixon, has worked with Parsons since 1986, and echoes that his professionalism and customer service are part of his success. “We’ve never had any problems at all with Donnie on delivery or timing or anything else,” Schnellenburger says. “He’s one of the best.”


Rags to riches: the restoration of Parsons’ 359

The narrow-window style of the 1971 Peterbilt 359 is what originally caught Donnie Parson’s eye in 1996. The truck sat in a nearby neighbor’s yard, and Parsons says he was ready to pounce as soon as its owner put it up for sale.

“It had 1.5 million [miles] on it. It wasn’t totaled out or anything — it just needed updating and painting and restored,” Parsons said.

So he tore the truck down to the frame, sandblasted it and starting building from there. He pulled a 1985 engine out of a truck at a local junkyard to rebuild and fit into his.

He also added a newer transmission, updated the truck’s lighting, added cruise control and electric windows and put it back on the road in 1998.

“I’ve had some issues with it, but I’ve never had to get a tow truck for it,” he says. “I always make it back home.”

He’s put 700,000 miles on it in the 14 years he’s driven it.


Water retreats

Five years ago, Donnie Parsons and his wife Dreama spec’d and ordered an 80-foot houseboat that’s since been parked on Cherokee Lake in northeast Tennessee, about an hour from their home.

Parsons says the couple’s able to visit the lake at least twice a month in the summer and usually once or twice a month other times of year. They also celebrate holidays and other events there.



1949: Born May 22

1967-1969: Worked as helicopter mechanic in U.S. Army

1982: Bought first truck, a 1982 Peterbilt 359

1987: Leased to Mason and Dixon Lines

1996: Married Dreama Kessel


Donnie Parsons is a finalist for the 2012 Owner-Operator of the Year award, which is sponsored by Overdrive and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner will be announced at TCA’s annual convention, March 3-6, 2013, in Las Vegas.

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