Kandel Transport Co. President Jack Daniels may be bold saying that he prefers Jim Beam bourbon to that “Tennessee sour mash.”
But he’s heir in name only to the renowned whiskey maker. Formally named John, he’s upheld a storied trucking legacy that his father, Richard Daniels, started in 1946. Richard, then 16, made his first long-haul run from his hometown, Hicksville, Ohio, to Parsons, Kan., for a load of Army surplus ammunition. More details of those tough times are on Overdrive Retro and in Overdrive’s October story, “Birth of an icon.”
“Even pay phones were hard to find then,” Jack said of that first haul his father made – in an International with a 28-foot single axle trailer attached.
“Top speed on that truck was 50 miles wide open,” Richard, now 80, said earlier this summer before climbing into his Northern Star RV to drive to the Hicksville High School 1948 class reunion. “Pickups now are bigger than what I started driving.”
From Richard’s humble start as a small-trucks ice hauler in Florida, the owner-operator eventually returned to Ohio, headed a small brokerage firm in Akron, Ohio, and retired in 1992. Shown in the photo above to the left of his father, son Jack expanded the Akron, Ohio-based reefer carrier, growing it to more than 40 trucks. Richard still makes short hauls for Kandel on sunny, summer days.
Business has improved since the ‘50s and ‘60s, the elder Daniels says: “We had all kinds of problems getting unloaded back then. Everything’s handled now what I call properly.”
Son Jack inherited his dad’s high expectations and work ethic: “Flash has no place in a business owner’s life. Dad taught me that it’s important for me, my managers and dispatchers to get in a truck and do the real business of trucking once in a while.”
Bearing the legendary Jack Daniels moniker hasn’t hurt either, especially at food shows conferences, where his name often precedes introductions: “It’s really fun.”