No. 1312



In our great nation, with our political and economic systems, it is possible to achieve far more personal success than anywhere else in the world. When any person has a vision or a dream of something they would like to achieve, the human spirit is unleashed. With time, hard work and perseverance, they can and will achieve it.
I say this because of a news article I ran across the other day that epitomizes this better than anything I have ever seen, known or run across before. We were sitting on the couch at home one day, and my wife Janis handed me this news article about the late Harvey Jones that had great interest for me. The reason I was interested is because I had met Mr. Jones personally back in the 1970s when he was the sole owner of Jones Truck Lines located in Springdale, Arkansas.
At the time, I was impressed with him because he had on his trademark bib overalls, and he was so short that when he sat in his office chair his feet did not touch the floor. My partner, the late Bob Gannaway, and I had stopped by to talk with him about investing in some attitude motivational materials for his employees. He did not buy anything and we went on our way.
But this article, written by Jack Hill, appeared in the Arkansas Business news publication back in 1988, and told the story of Harvey Jones and how he got started in the trucking business. Back in 1918, then 18 years of age, Harvey had returned to Arkansas from St. Louis, where he had planned to become a doctor, with the statement that this endeavor would take too long.
Rather, he took the $800 he had saved, bought two mules, a wagon and some supplies, and started his own business. He has going to make daily runs hauling groceries and hardware to Rogers, a 30-mile round trip over a road that was muddy and unpaved. By the end of the following year, 1919, he had made enough money to buy a used truck with solid rubber tires, an open cab with side curtains, and a cold running engine. Harvey kept his mule blankets, not for the driver, but for the engine. The idea was to coax more horsepower by keeping the engine warm with the cover of those blankets.
By 1927, the company fleet had grown to eight trucks and he had four drivers. They worked for almost nothing, but jobs were hard to find around Springdale in those days and a man was glad to work for 10 cents an hour. He also got 15 cents for meal money, for every eight hours he worked. Now, are you getting the picture here? I have been in those Arkansas hills in the wintertime and it is awful cold, and this job added up to long days and nights. Most of the roads were still unpaved (for instance, every mile between Fort Smith and Texarkana was gravel). Additionally, the trucks did not have much pulling power and their brakes were not too effective. That was a problem on the hills that began at Fayetteville and seemed to stretch forever to the South for those early drivers. Sometimes they had to block the wheels of their truck to keep it from rolling back down the hill.
Things gradually improved, and Harvey Jones stayed with it. By 1933, he had nearly a dozen drivers and terminals in five states. By 1949, he had incorporated his business, and Jones Truck Line had become the largest individually owned truck line in the country. By 1979, the last full year he was involved in the business before selling to Sun Oil Company, his revenues were just under $80 million and he had 685 trucks and 1,870 trailers. Was Harvey Jones a Legend? I would say so.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)