Vows and Volvos

| April 07, 2005

Jennifer and Chris Hartfelder (right) rode to their wedding reception in a brand new white Volvo 780, thanks to Jennifer’s parents, Peter and Margaret Martens (left), owners of JenBar Trucking.

Not every little girl has big rigs named in her honor, and not every little girl grows up to ride away in a Volvo VN780 on her wedding day.

But to Jennifer Martens Hartfelder, 23, Volvos are like part of the family. Margaret and Peter Martens, owners of JenBar Trucking, named their company after their two daughters, Jennifer and Barbi, when they started as United States Postal Service contractors in 1983 with two white Volvo F716s. Instead of numbering their trucks, they named them, too, after their daughters. As they accumulated more trucks – all white Volvos – they continued the tradition until they ran out of names and started naming the trucks after friends.

Over the years, they have bought close to two dozen Volvos, Margaret says, and now they own 13. “You couldn’t sell us another truck,” Margaret says. “We’re very happy with our Volvos.”

Growing up, Jennifer and Barbi often spent summers riding in the Volvos with their dad. Each girl went alone, so she got special time with her father. At the time, Peter was driving a cabover tractor with a fold-down bunk where the girls could take their dolls to play house.

“With Daddy being a truck driver, he’d be busy a lot, and sometimes the only time we really got to see him was when we went with him in the truck. Not a lot of kids get to do that,” Jennifer says. “We got to stay up late and go in the post offices and meet the people on the docks. It was fun.”

The people at the post offices along Peter’s route got used to seeing the girls and would bring them doughnuts or offer to buy them ice cream. “The girls always knew who to smile at on the dock,” Margaret says.

As they grew older, the girls learned everything they could about trucks except how to drive them. Both girls spent summers helping with maintenance on the trucks.

When Jennifer got engaged, her father teased that they should use a Volvo for the wedding party instead of a limo. It had become a standing joke through the years that any time a large group needed transportation, Peter would offer to clean a trailer and put them in that.
To the Martens’ surprise, Jennifer and her fiancé Chris Hartfelder liked the idea. They decided they would ride from the church to the reception in a white Volvo tractor.

“It sounded like fun,” Jennifer says. “It would be something different, something special.”

The Martens owned only daycabs for their regional business – and those were well worn from the rigors of the road – so they set about finding a Volvo 780 for Jennifer’s wedding ride. “They are so large and so beautiful,” Margaret says. “That’s what she wanted.”
They had trouble working out the details at first, but then at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., they met Susan Alt, vice president of marketing for Volvo Trucks North America.

“She said, ‘We will make it happen,’ and she did,” Margaret says.
Working with Alt and Burr Truck in Vestal, N.Y., where they had bought most of their trucks, the Martens arranged to pick up a brand new Volvo 780 two days before the wedding. “It literally came off the line right to us,” Margaret says. “It never even made it to a dealership.”

Peter, the groom and his best man picked up the truck and brought it to the Martens’ house, where all the groomsmen joined in getting it ready for the big day. “They were having a blast polishing and washing,” Margaret says. “They polished it up so it was bright shining white.”

Because Volvos had been a part of the Martens family for so long, Jennifer could really appreciate the beauty of the 780, she says. “Even we had never seen such a nice truck,” she says. “We’ve always had the basic, stripped-down models. When you know what most people use on a day-to-day basis, you really appreciate the extra stuff.”

After the wedding, the newlyweds stopped to have photos taken with the Volvo 780 before leaving for the reception. The guests were so fascinated with the display that no one left for the reception before the bride and groom, Margaret says.

The Volvo made quite a spectacle on the 40-minute ride to the reception, Margaret says. The groomsmen had tied the bows from the pews all over the truck, and “Just Married” signs were magnetically attached to the sides. Peter, who was driving, honked the air horn at passing cars, and Jennifer and her new husband leaned out the window waving.

The truck made the day much more memorable than a normal limo, Margaret says, and many of the wedding guests told her they agree. “It was such a huge hit that it was almost a member of the wedding party.”

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