63 Years on the Road and Still Trucking: The Story of Jimell Johnson

February 21, 2019

I’ve met a lot of friends on the road. If you were down, someone would stop and help you get back going again. We were there for each other.”

- Jimell Johnson, J&S Trucking

Facts About J&S Trucking

  • Owner/operator driving since 1956
  • Moving Coyote freight since 2012
  • Logged 3 million miles – and counting – on his ’97 Freightliner
  • Based in DeSoto, Texas

Jimell and Sandra, his wife and business partner

J&S Trucking’s Story

Jimell Johnson of J&S Trucking has seen a lot of change in the industry. Considering that he started driving thirteen years before we put a man on the moon, that isn’t surprising.

Jimell started driving in 1956 and has been hauling freight around the United States ever since. We sat down with Jimell to hear his take on the evolving trucking industry and what life on the road has been like for the past 63 years.

 

Q&A with Jimell Johnson

When did you decide to become a truck driver?

Jimell: I started driving back in 1956. I knew a few guys doing it and figured I’d give it a shot. I didn’t realize I would fall in love with it, but I did.

What do you enjoy about it?

Jimell: I liked driving immediately. There’s a lot of freedom in being a truck driver. You get to take things one day at a time. I love moving around and seeing new things. I’ve seen the whole country driving from state to state while moving freight. I like that I’m never just in one place.

Does it get lonely?

Jimell: I’ve met a lot of friends on the road. Back in the day, we just had a CB radio to communicate with each other. Just hop on the radio and you’d always have someone to keep you entertained, or awake if you needed. If you were ever broken down on the road, someone would stop and help you get back going again. We were there for one another.

Do you have any favorite places to visit?

Jimell: I’ve seen the whole country, but my favorite was driving south from Southern California to Georgia. It was always such a smooth ride, had great scenery and I never had to worry about putting chains on my tires to deal with snow.

How did you become an owner-operator?

Jimell: I started driving for a company in 1956. I saved up and I got my own truck back in 1970, then leased it to the company I had been driving for. I was with them for 32 years until they got out of the business in the late 90s. After that I just kept going by myself and started J&S Trucking.

What kind of truck do you drive now?

Jimell: I’ve got an old ‘97 Freightliner that’s always done the job. It has about 3,065,000 miles on it now. I still do a lot of the maintenance myself.

You just celebrated your 81st birthday. How much longer do you think you’ll keep driving?

Jimell: I really take driving one day at a time. I just had my truck’s engine and transmission rebuilt, so it has quite a few more miles in it. I’ll keep going until I don’t want to anymore.

How did you find out about Coyote Logistics?

Jimell: About six years ago a lady at a truck stop recommended Coyote, so I called in and went from there.

What do you think about working with us?

Jimell: I really enjoy it. My rep, Brandon, has always been good to me. He keeps my truck running and fights for every dollar for me. Now I’ll only move freight with you guys.

What business challenges did you have before you started working with Coyote?

Jimell: I only move freight in Texas now, so finding enough freight to keep moving was difficult. Brandon has been great though. He’s given me enough freight over the past six years to keep my business going.

How do you deal with new technology?

Jimell: I haven’t had to really. I still have a flip phone. Whenever I need load information Brandon will send an email and my wife, Sandra, will fax it over to a truck stop nearby. Brandon’s made it really easy to work how I want to.

What’s changed about the trucking industry since you started?

Jimell: It’s been 63 years, so a lot has changed. Diesel was $0.11/gallon when I started and now it’s $2.90/gallon. Regulations have changed a lot too. We didn’t worry about hours of service at all. There’s also a lot less direct customer loads for smaller trucking companies, which has affected rates.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a truck driver?

Jimell: Work hard and focus on staying safe. Maintaining a good safety score is important. I’d also tell them my story. I learned everything on my own and stayed with the same company for 32 years. There’s a lot of freedom in being a truck driver. It’s a great opportunity to see the world around you.

Are you interested in working with a 3PL who can keep you moving for years to come?

 

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