Trucker of the Month
Alchemy on wheels
An owner-operator unleashes his creative powers by transforming his truck’s brand and building a brokerage business from scratch.
Jerry Jones remembers as a child watching big trucks haul loads on his grandparents’ farm and thinking that one day he would be the guy behind the wheel. “I rode in trucks with my dad,” says Jones, an El Dorado Springs, Mo., resident. “Every chance I got, well, I’d be driving the truck.”
At 16, Jones began driving hay trucks and gravel trucks around his grandparents’ farm and other local spreads. “Back then you grew up doing it,” Jones says. “There were no schools for trucking.” By age 17, Jones was driving a tractor-trailer for a grain elevator company. He hauled grain to places no more than 100 miles away.
“When I was younger, I cared more about driving a bigger truck than earning a bigger paycheck,” Jones says.
He loves trucks so much so that he’s kept every one he’s bought. “I have five trucks, but only run one,” he says of his 2003 Peterbilt 379 with a 550-hp Caterpillar. However, his 1973 Kenworth was his first truck, and he still favors that brand. “You kind of like what you grow up with.”
His preference is so strong that Jones remodeled his Peterbilt after the 1980 Kenworth W900 Limited Edition Gold Nugget that he owns. By ordering his Peterbilt with certain spec’s, such as a solid chestnut paint scheme and extended hood, Jones made the transformation easier.
Soon he took what he refers to as Petey to the Joplin Peterbilt Body shop to match the paint scheme with that of the Gold Nugget’s. Jones then took the Peterbilt to Truck Interiors of Seatac, Wash., to add the Kenworth button-tuck upholstery.
With a onetime stab at the beauty show circuit, he entered his Gold Nugget replica, a $25,000 project, in the Mid-America Trucking Show in 2003 and won 2nd place for interior cab only and 3rd place for bobtail new truck.
Jones’s trucking career took off as a 21-year-old, soon after he returned from Korea, where he served as a military driver.
He worked for Hofer Inc., in his hometown of El Dorado Springs, hauling feed, fertilizer and grain. At 23 and eager to run his own business, Jones bought the new 1973 Kenworth and leased to Hofer for a year. He pulled a hopper bottom grain trailer for the company but had bigger plans.
“I always had a dream in my eye for the big reefer trucks,” Jones says of the then new 1975 reefer trailer he bought one year later. “I looked for my niche, something the mainstream wasn’t doing, and then I specialized in it.”
He advises other truck drivers to do the same. “Establish good contacts and relationships as you go down the road,” Jones adds.