An industry statesman
17 April 2008
Having traversed the nation's roadways since 1939, White Brothers Trucking Co., Wasco, IL., was founded by two farm boys, Chuck and Joe White. They started the business while they were still in high school, initially hauling produce to the Chicago markets in an old truck purchased for $25.
By 1957, the year in which Joe White died, the company had shifted its focus to hauling concrete products, capturing much of the area's market. Like his father Chuck, Jim White, 62, who is now president of the company, came to the industry at a young age.
“I grew up with the company,” he says. “It always fit me like a glove. I started out by sweeping floors, emptying trash cans and washing trucks.”
By 1964 he was working for the company full time, sometimes putting in as many as 120 hours a week.
“During the early years of my marriage to Ginger, the least amount of time I'd put into the business would be 80 hours a week,” he says of his early years managing and growing the business.
He remembers that on one of his family's first vacations, they transformed the family car and a one-way rental car into escort vehicles for a load going to New Orleans, where they stayed several days after the unloaded truck returned to Illinois. Ginger also drove an escort vehicle plenty of other times.
“She has more miles in an escort vehicle than I do in a truck,” he says. “She was really good about knowing who the drivers were and how things needed to work. She has been a big part of this company's success.”
White was well-prepared to take over the company when his father retired in 1982. He has remained committed to building on White Brothers' reputation for quality transportation.
In 2005, the company grossed $8.2 million. Its rolling stock includes 15 trucks, and the company also draws on 35 owner/operator trucks. Among White Brothers' 140 trailers are heavy haul equipment ranging from 9 to 13 axles; flatbeds, stepdecks and double dropdecks (all also available in expandable versions); and specials such as the ring gear units that were built in-house.
White Brothers runs in 48 states, Mexico and Canada, although White notes that his company's rigs have made deliveries as far as France, after being shipped from the Port of Baltimore.
In addition to its headquarters in Wasco (a little over 50 miles west of Chicago), White Bothers operates terminals in South Beloit and Manhattan, IL; Milwaukee, WI; and Wiggins, MS.
One of the company's specialties continues to be the hauling of long concrete structural pieces. An upcoming project involves the transport of concrete beams as large as 170 feet long and 233,000 pounds from Flagg Center, IL to a new extension of Interstate 355 about 100 miles away. During the first phase of the job, White Brothers will move 1,100 beams – 600 of which will be at least 120 feet long and weigh 120,000 pounds.
In 2003, White Brothers won an SC&RA Hauling Job of the Year award for moving two chemical mixing tanks from Elhart, IN to Beloit, WI. The final load was 18 feet tall, 17.3 feet wide, and weighed 71,000 pounds. The final route covered 82 roads in three states and required 26 state, county, township and city permits. The move was completed with no accidents, injuries or damages.
White offers a simple secret to the company's success: “ We have the right equipment and good people who know how to use it.”
He points out that the majority of White Brothers drivers have been with the company for 20 to 25 years, and that “most of our dispatch and management team are pushing 20 years.”
The company works hard to earn loyalty. After drivers deliver a load, they come directly home rather than being routed to yet another city, even if that means returning empty. Consequently, they spend less time away from home.
White Brothers' drivers also appreciate being paid by the hour rather than by mileage. “We want them to take their time and do the job right,” says White.
Reports from customers indicate White Brothers' drivers will keep busy for the foreseeable future. In addition to road construction, hot markets include mining and mnufacturing. White also anticipates plenty of work resulting from rebuilding efforts required because of Hurricane Katrina.
He has seen firsthand the devastation caused by the hurricane. In early September, Lutheran Church Charities called to ask if his company could contribute a truck, trailer and driver to haul a load of medical supplies, food and clothing from Addison, Ill. to Baton Rouge, La. True to form, White took on that task himself, driving more than 2,000 miles roundtrip.
“When a call like that comes across your desk, you can't say no,” he says, humbly
This type of perspective is vintage Jim White, and is much of the reason why his company is so successful and why he has been such an invaluable asset to the Specialty Riggers and Carriers Association and the entire industry as a whole.