December 2017

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

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VOICES 10 | Overdrive | December 2017 Carl Rhodes of Tunnelton, West Virginia, hauled coal around his home base (near Morgantown) from the age of 13, says his son, Rick Rhodes, who got in touch in October to note that his father was recovering from an injury and had a birth- day coming up. The elder Rhodes has been a fi xture of Morgantown-area truck- ing since his own father hauled pulpwood in a 1932 Ford from the mountains above Westernport, Mary- land, and Carl got his start in the local coal business. He got pretty good at backing the dumps up onto a steep tipple to get the coal "into a bin where they'd unload then into a railcar," says Rick. So good, in fact, that "older drivers would have him back their trucks up on that tipple for them." It's pretty clear the kind of kid his dad was, likewise the kind of man he would become – not one to be denied an opportunity to fi nd ways to do a job better than the rest. "When my granddad hauled to Westernport," Rick says, "dad would sneak out the back door and take a shortcut across the backyard to beat granddad to where he was going. When granddad got to the truck, dad would be waiting in the passenger seat for him." After military service and marriage to the love of his life, Rick's mother, the late Sandra Jean, Carl returned to the states and started a trucking business in Park- ersburg with his brother that eventually sold out. Back in Tunnelton, he got into the Western Auto business for a time, but dump trucks kept hauling coal past the store. He de- cided he should be "tryin' again" with trucking, and thus the "Tronagun" small fl eet was born. Rick himself started on with his dad in the 1970s, about the time Carl "bought two brand-new Brockways. We had older Fords with 534 gas engines – when I started, I drove one of them." Along the way, Carl Rhodes taught coal brokers in his area how to "dip the slurry ponds to get the fi ne coal out. He kind of perfect- ed that," one among many pieces of evidence of Carl's instincts for business process improvements that served him well. Tronagun went on to specialize in asbestos and other remediation through much of the latter part of the century. Following 9-11, the company worked on a Pentagon demo/reconstruc- tion project as well, among much other business. Search "Carl Rhodes" at OverdriveOnline.com to see more of his trucking history. Happy 85th from a son to his trucking legend dad Carl Rhodes, pictured here with a 1919 International truck his son Rick says he took to parades at the time of the photo. Rhodes turned 85 in November. Colin Young's collection of dashcam clips from a June run from Denver to Basalt, Colorado, in part over Love- land Pass, surprised him for the sheer volume of unsafe behaviors evidenced by four-wheelers, including their willingness to fl out basic laws of the road. "After 20-plus years of driving," Young says, "it still surprises me how many people continue to take the risks they take around big trucks." Catch white-knuckle moments, or share your own, at Overdrive's reader-video repository Dashcam Central: OverdriveOnline.com/DashcamCentral. Four-wheeler 'hall of shame' over Loveland Pass This 1985 Diamond Reo started its life as a long-haul dump-trailer-pulling unit, says Carl Rhodes' son Rick. "I talked dad into taking it to the local truck pulls when he was in his 60s," where he schooled the younger drivers, lead- ing by example when he won the pull, on just how it was done. "Dad really showed those young boys where it was at that day … made me feel good to see that big smile on his face."

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