Remembering owner-ops Mark Mills, Jeff Seales on tough week for show hauler Clark Transfer

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Updated Aug 9, 2022


This edition of Overdrive Radio features a talk with Charlie Deull, third generation in the family behind longtime Broadway show hauler (among other touring acts) Clark Transfer, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Today, the company is principal in touring work all around the nation led by owner-operators leased on to the company, in addition to a network of outside agents (including many owner-ops and small fleets with authority among that network, too).

I spoke to Deull initially this spring, and some since, about the company’s efforts to bounce back from the big hit the COVID-19 pandemic put on the business. Coming out of it in the last year or so as big touring acts have returned in earnest, the company’s changed up parts of its contractor compensation package in unique ways. Clark is among the very, very few carriers out there offering a minimum guaranteed revenue to owners who lease there, for one, and for two, guaranteeing their fuel surcharge as a backstop for the less-fuel-efficient amid rising prices.

Read my July story about those and other developments in the lease contract via this link. 

In the course of my research for the story, which you can hear Deull tell in his own words in today's podcast, he sent along a contact number for owner-operator Jeff Seales, among the company’s longest-tenured leased owners at upward of three decades. This week, planning to revisit Deull's talk for the podcast audience, I was on the verge to making contact with Seales to talk about his business when I learned that Seales had passed unexpectedly.

Owner-operator Seales had a gift for 'herding cats,' as Charlie Deull described his expert direction of the delicate dance that is coordination of freight moving into and out of a touring Broadway act's many stops. Among many, many other accomplishments, Seales is remembered as the lead operator on the two-dozen-truck, 18-year run of the 'Phantom of the Opera' show's tour.Owner-operator Seales had a gift for "herding cats," as Charlie Deull described his expert direction of the delicate dance that is coordination of freight moving into and out of a touring Broadway act's many stops. Among many, many other accomplishments, Seales is remembered as the lead operator on the two-dozen-truck, 18-year run of the "Phantom of the Opera" show's tour.

It’s been a tough week for everyone at Clark Transfer on account of it, as well as the reality that another owner, working with the company since 2018, also passed within days of Seales. His name was Mark Mills. In the tribute to owner-operator Mills posted earlier this week to Clark Transfer’s Facebook page, the company noted he leaves behind his wife, Kelly, and a young daughter, McKenna, among other family. 

Mark Mills' first run for Clark Transfer in 2018 was hauled between Harrisburg and York in Pennsylvania, the company noted -- a relatively short drive that ended up under difficult circumstances taking 12 long hours of blizzard battling. But he got there. The show went on.Mark Mills' first run for Clark Transfer in 2018 was hauled between Harrisburg and York in Pennsylvania, the company noted -- a relatively short drive that ended up under difficult circumstances taking 12 long hours of blizzard battling. But he got there. The show went on.

Mills had worked on a variety of productions, but had consistently been with the band Chicago since 2019, when they were on the road. The Chicago crew set up a GiveSendGo page to help his family; access it via this link.

Both owner-operators Mills and Seales, it’s certain, will be missed. Condolences to the families.

Hear much more about both men, as well as Clark's lease program, with Deull in the podcast: 

[Related: How this hauler for some of the biggest acts in popular music survived early COVID lockdowns