Frequently Asked Questions

Q & A With JRS Founder, James R. Smith

I was born and raised in Gum Pond, Alabama, not far from Eva (about 18 miles from Cullman). I went to school at Gum Pond and then Eva. I worked in a grocery store and gristmill for my daddy, on top of farming. James R. Smith

Daddy always had Ford pickups. He had a '39 model and then a '41 model. Both were new when he got them. The first one I drove was the '41 model - and I was probably 7 or 8 years old. Daddy always dug up Bermuda grass out of the fields. I wanted to drive that truck so bad. He would let me drive if I would dig that grass up and haul it off. So I got to drive that truck.

The first truck I bought was an old '36 model International pickup. I think we gave $35 for it. Me and a friend of mine bought it. We could go around and pick up scrap metal and scrap iron. A long time ago people would dump their trash - old stoves and stuff like that - on the side of the road in hollows and woods. We would take that old International and pick up all the metal. We would pick 'em up, load 'em up and haul 'em off and sell 'em for scrap. Sometimes we would make $10 per day. We did that for a couple of years. We just did it because we wanted something to drive. We made enough for gas and sometimes an RC Cola and a pack of peanuts.

The second truck I had was a '42 model Ford, a short truck with a 12 foot bed. I used it to haul coal, shavings, sawdust for chicken houses, lumber from sawmills, and logs to sawmills. That would have been in 1949.

1935 - and I was 12 years old before I got that first truck.

Yeah, I wasn't old enough to get 'em. I was doing all my trucking out in the country. You know we never had any police as far out as we lived. I didn't go to town in that truck. It was all dirt roads back in the woods. Then a few years later, I did get my driver's license. When I turned 16, I was sitting at the courthouse waiting on them to open. At that time I bought a '46 model Ford truck - 14 foot bed on that one, and it had windows. The other one didn't have windows

I used that old '46 model for I guess about a year (maybe a year and a half) before I got the first new vehicle I ever owned. It was a '52 model Ford truck. I was still hauling shavings, sawdust and coal. Then I started hauling fertilizer from Nashville and Mobile, getting a little stretched out.

I believe that was when we got an accountant. Yeah, it could have started when I was 14 years old I guess, which would have been '49. But we didn't really get set up in an office, and look like a trucking company until 1955.

Well we called it Eva, because that was where I lived. But we had the office in Cullman, on old 31 Highway, at Phelan.

Yeah, 1955 was when we opened the first office on Highway 31. I started off with that office and didn't have any hired help at first. It was just me. Some of the drivers would help, like Hulon "Jim" Caudle. He would help, and sometimes Albert Caudle, and their brother Malcolm. They all helped me some and all drove for me some. I had a couch in the little one-room office, and lots of times I'd spend the night on that couch. I lived with Mother and Daddy. I didn't want the calls coming in all night at their house, so if it was busy, or if I thought one of the trucks might have some problems, I would just sleep on the couch in the office.

It was in the late '50s. I started leasing in, mostly, tractors. I think I got up to owning about 100 trailers at one time. Most of them had bunker and blowers, where you put ice in front of them and turn the fan on. We didn't have reefers back then. We got reefers on down the road. Then we sold our company trucks, and leased all the trucks, and furnished the trailers. We hauled mostly chickens. We hauled all of Marshall Durbin's chickens. Most of the time, we were loading 25 loads a day out of Jasper and Mobile. The chickens went to Michigan and Ohio and up in that area.

Yeah, from '55 on up into the early '60s. In the '60s I had Hoyt Latham working for me. Faye Marty started in '72 and Bill Marty a couple of years later.

I decided to get a pilot's license and a plane to carry customers around. In 1961, I got a pilot's license, then went on to a flying school and got a commercial license, so I could fly for hire and charter. I did all of Marshall Durbin's flying for them. I carried Bob Parrish and Dick Hill all over the country. We'd go to Michigan, New York, Texas, Iowa - anywhere they could sell poultry. I was hauling all the chickens, so every time we called on a customer I got to know that customer, and we got all the business.

Later, I bought another plane and started chartering to different people. Every Sunday I would run the plane at the Cullman airport, carrying people for short sightseeing rides. I think I had seven different airplanes over the years. I had 2 at one time and did a lot of charter work. I flew airplanes until about '72 or '73 - maybe later than that, maybe '74.

I guess first of all I started running a fishing boat in Florida and met a lot of people. One of them was Hank Jr. - that's when I got in the music business. I was involved in that from '73 until '86 (about 13 years).

Let's see, after that I guess everybody knows the rest of the story. I went on to get a commercial U.S. Coast Guard's captain's license for a 100 ton ship. I started chartering and fishing off the coast of Panama City, Florida. I enjoyed that because I got to take a lot of customers fishing and enjoyed being with them.

At the time, we only had one company. Later, we got JRS Logistics going, and the kids got James A. Smith Transportation going. I enjoy coming up and meeting all the truckers, and seeing all the people. I still like trucks and everything about the trucking business. I keep it on my mind all the time and can't sleep at night for thinking about it. When I'm in Florida or traveling, I'm still on the phone back and forth from the office to the truckers and dispatchers for probably 4 or 5 hours a day. (I have big phone bills!)


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James R.Smith Trucking

James R. Smith Trucking can haul almost anything with its large fleet of dry vans, flat beds, and other equipment.

James R. Smith Trucking

James A. Smith Trucking is a nationwide carrier, specializing in moving refrigerated and temperature controlled freight.

JRS Logistics

JRS Logistics, Inc. coordinates movement of both refrigerated and non-refrigerated freight nationwide, utilizing contract carriers.

304 Truck and Trailer Sale

304 Truck & Trailer Sales not only sells commercial used trucks, but finances them too. We're located just off I-65 at Exit 304.

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